Find a Family
A Christmas party. Thanksgiving dinner. Friday movie night. Easter dinner. Birthdays. These activities are hard to label as a project and so we have grouped them together under the title, “Family Environment.”
In short, our job in Romania is not a 9 to 5 job. In a very real way, it is as if we have 20 some-odd teenagers in our family! This means that we work 24/7; a parent doesn’t stop being a parent at five o’clock!
Our goal is, in a small way, to fill the role of the parents these orphans never had. A good parent raises up his child to become an independent adult. Even though the orphans we work with are teenagers/young adults, their maturity level does not match their age. Years of having no one to instruct, love, teach, and nurture them has left them quite immature.
We show the orphans love and acceptance and work on building a relationship with them. After this, however, comes a difficult time when, because we love them, we must help them to overcome these deficiencies from their past. This is always painful, for them and for us, and requires persistence, wisdom, patience, and, above all, God’s help!
Nevertheless, after several years of working with the orphans we can see a difference. Some are well on their way to becoming productive, independent, and mature Christians and citizens; others still need a lot of work.
This may be the most difficult part of our ministry in Romania. Not being a specific project, fundraising for this aspect of our ministry is limited to general donations. Therefore, we appreciate so much those who support us with their monthly gifts. They enable us to live and work among these young people, training, supporting, and loving them – just as Christ has done for us!
We would not be doing our job if we weren’t steering our young people towards the church! Sunday is usually a “working” day for us as we are surrounded by orphans at church and welcome them to eat with us afterwards as part of the Sunday Dinner program.
Most of the orphans to whom we minister attend church. We invite them and encourage them to come and to get involved, and have been pleased to see quite a few of them do just that!
In general, orphans are not looked upon favorably in Romania, and this attitude extends to the church also. However, we have witnessed many Romanians who have taken an interest in these young people and invested in their lives. We have also seen attitudes changing at some of the churches we attend.
At the same time, we work to change the attitudes of the orphans we work with so that they learn how to fit into society. For example, many come to church dressed poorly, make noise, laugh and cut up, run around the church chasing and hitting one another, and generally exhibit behavior that is not very church-like. These are opportunities for us to teach them proper manners, self-control, respect (for others and for God), and good societal behavior.
About half of the orphans with whom we work have been saved, baptized, and are members of a church. We would ask you to pray for the others!
Please see our Find a Family link.
ROM began legally functioning and working in Romania in 2003. Our first project was the Foster Project which was soon followed by a Bible study for young men. Since that time we have been ministering to two different groups of orphans; young babies abandoned at the hospital by their mothers, and teenage orphans.
In October of 2006, God really began directing us to question the efficacy of our Foster Program (by now renamed the Find a Family Program). The original purpose of this program was to place abandoned babies with foster mothers and find Romanian, Christian families for them. When one child was adopted we would replace him with another and rescue as many as possible.
To be sure, two beautiful babies were adopted by Christian families in Romania and God used us to save them from a life of growing up in the orphanage. However, three of the original four children with whom we started were never adopted.
Legally in Romania we could not choose which families our children went to and, therefore, could not choose to give them to Christian families. Through God’s grace, the children who were adopted went to Christian families, but the likelihood that one of our children would go to a non-Christian family was high and would completely violate what God has called us to do in Romania.
In addition to this, the cost was very high. Because of the bureaucratic Romanian government, we were forced to hire seven people for a project with four children. Over half of all monies donated to ROM were used to fund just this one project in 2005-2006.
Corey with Magdalena
Many other groups have foster programs in our area, but no one else focuses on discipling older orphans. We thought, “Why do something others can and will do when you can do something others can’t and won’t do?”
At the same time, the Bible study, and subsequent projects and activities with the older orphans, were and are still flourishing. We have seen much success in “Bringing the forgotten orphan children in Romania to faith in Christ, discipling them, and equipping them to be productive citizens and Christians,” which is, in fact, our mission statement. It was clear God was blessing that part of our ministry.
After much prayer we decided to heed God’s direction and focus all of our time, energy, and resources on evangelizing, discipling, and equipping the older orphans God has entrusted to us.
A week after we made this decision, through a miraculous series of events, another organization in Oradea, the city where we work, assumed all of our foster mothers and children into their program! This was a very clear sign from God, as one of our biggest concerns was how we could make sure our children were cared for!
At Christmas time we distributed gifts to all of the foster families and saw with our own eyes how well things are going with their new organization. We praise God not only for His guidance, but also for providing a way to take care of the families and children in the Foster Project so that we can now focus on the older teenage orphans.
Even though we no longer have the Find a Family Program, we have decided to leave this link on our web site for those interested in this type of ministry. If you would like more information on other organizations involved in foster care and adoption in our area (Oradea, Romania) please feel free to contact us and we would be glad to put you in contact with them. Following is the original text from our Find a Family link from when we ran this project.
Everyday in Romania mothers give birth in maternity hospitals and then leave, abandoning their children to the care of the state. The newborn baby is then transferred to a children’s hospital. The conditions in these hospitals vary throughout the country. However, even the better hospitals are poorly funded and understaffed. Newborn babies require much care, attention, and love. They receive none of these things in the Romanian hospital system.
Hospital staff have no time to hold, feed, change, or provide love to these unwanted children. The children are changed and bathed infrequently. Their diet is woefully inadequate. A popular method of feeding the children is to prop a bottle up against the crib and to leave the child to suckle.
Because of a lack of stimulation most children who are abandoned develop severe developmental delays. Because of this lack of stimulation many rock back and forth. This behavior persists even into adulthood with many of the children who spent their most critical developmental years in the children’s hospital. At three years old the young child is transferred to the orphanage where he will grow up.
This problem of child abandonment in Romania is a difficult one to understand for many. Communism fell in Romania in 1989 when the people revolted, captured their cruel dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and executed him. The country has had seventeen years to recover but the process is excruciatingly slow. Corruption is rampant in the government and most changes only amount to a show put on for the outside world, especially the European Community, which make Romania look better, but really do nothing to affect change.
Therefore, the number of children abandoned each year has remained steady since the fall of communism. One in four children currently in the orphanage system were abandoned in the last three years. This means that a fourth of all abandoned children in Romania are from 0 – 3 years old! Obviously a huge problem remains to be solved.
Our Find a Family Project seeks to provide permanent, loving, Christian, Romanian families for these abandoned children. We first choose a young baby from the children’s hospital and then place him/her with one of the four foster mothers whom we employ. We then immediately begin the process of nurturing the child back to health. Our foster mothers are all professionals who have raised children of their own and who have many years of experience taking care of abandoned children in Romania. We also employ two social workers who make regular visits to the children and file reports for the state, and a psychologist who evaluates our children. By evaluating each child we discover exactly what areas of development are deficient and our psychologist is able to give our foster mothers specific instructions and exercises to bring the young child up to normal levels.
The main goal of this project, however, is to find permanent families for our young children. By facilitating adoptions we are seeking to prevent the whole process by which a young person grows up in the orphanage and, upon being forced to leave at eighteen, must somehow make his way in the world. This usually results in a homeless orphan involved in drugs, gangs, and prostitution.
The children rescued from the hospitals will never know this lonely and cruel way of life. Instead they will grow up in a loving, Christian family and will have all the opportunities that a normal child has. In addition, they will be exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the time they are small.