I first met you in 2007. The room at Orphanage #2 was crowded and stuffy, and there were new shoes everywhere. You waited patiently as each child was seated and given their gift. There were shoes just for you. Shoes you wouldn’t have to share with anyone. You smiled that shy little smile, and the dimple in your chin reminded me of the dimple in my son’s cheek – and on that day, I may have fallen just a little in love with you. The time flew much too quickly, but not before I found out your name.
I walked into Orphanage #2 in 2009, and your handsome face greeted me again. Two years later, and you were still there. Some of your friends were gone – a few had traveled to the United States with new families. Our team brought gifts for Sasha, and you watched eagerly to see what her Texas family had shared with her. She would be leaving soon to live in a place you had just visited. As part of the Angels from Abroad program, you had gotten to travel to the Lone Star State with other orphans who were eligible for adoption. You had played on a boat, gone to a baseball game, run and laughed and eaten strange things like tacos. You came back with an album full of pictures and a heart full of hope. You practiced your English words and dreamt of a life an ocean away. We hugged and talked and prayed. And I fell just a little more in love with you.
I saw you again, just a few weeks ago. That smile and that dimple were warm treasures on a snowy day. You remembered I was from Texas, and ran to get your photo album. We looked again at every picture. You said you still wanted a family, and we prayed that God would give you the desire of your heart. The caregiver at Orphanage #2 said adoptions had declined significantly because of media coverage of a few bad situations – and she said with tears in her eyes that she wished there were stories about all the good instead. She worried for the children, like Andre, who were getting older. I wanted so badly in that moment to just say “Andre, you would be a fine Rock – come home with me.” I promised the caregiver I would advocate for you. And I held you tightly before we said our goodbyes – my heart overflowing with love for you.
Andre, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry about political games played by broken people and bad news stories that get in the way of really great news. I’m sorry about policies that forget about the innocents. I’m sorry that you may never get to return to the place you long to live.
And damn it, I’m sorry that you’re not mine.
But my promise holds true to you, Andre. I’ll advocate for you. I’ll tell everyone I know about you. And I’ll pray like crazy that things change for you and the other orphans who long for a forever family.
If you’d like to read a Russian response to the bill banning U.S. adoptions, click here. And if you’d like to add your name to a petition asking for a change of heart, you may read an amazing VERY good story here.