Advocating: You Can Do It Too (pt 1)

McKennaugh and KatiaIn the six months that TIO has been up and running, several people have stood out as youth who are really enthusiastic about TIOs vision. One of those people is McKennaugh Kelley. I contacted her to ask her to guest post after reading a guest post she did on The Rebelution. She wrote Loving Katia part one and part two. The story of how a teenager could find a family for an orphan captivated me, so when she contacted me about advocating for Miroslav, I asked her to do a how-to on advocating for orphans. The article turned out quite long, so it’s going to be a series. I hope you are inspired.

~*~

Take a 14-year-old girl who is homeschooled in the backwoods of Pennsylvania. She spends her free time climbing trees, swimming, hiking, and writing. She enjoys heralding in spring mornings before the birds, embarking on all things strange and adventurous, and will do almost anything to make someone laugh. Add her to a Ukrainian orphanage five thousand miles away, tear her heart out, give it to three little special needs kids, and send her back home. She doesn’t know anyone interesting in adopting disabled children a world away, but she doesn’t care. Putting clumsy fingers to a keyboard, she decides that she will do everything she can to bring to these children the love she knows they wait for.

It wasn’t the perfect recipe for success.

But you know what?

It worked.

Hi, I’m the strange 14-year-old slightly grown up. I’m turning 18. I spent three months in Ukraine with my family, seven weeks of which was spent at an orphanage. Three hours a day, every day. I had fallen into a place that I wouldn’t have believed existed a short year and a half before. I had cold water tossed onto my happy childhood. I was suddenly awake, older. These kids had had that awakening the day they were born. They received no happy childhood.

I was determined that I would bring one to them. It might be a little late, but they would have another chance. Leah of TIO asked me to share with you how I found families for three children, Yuri, Viktor, and Katia (aka Levina). So the following is the story of my struggle for them and some tips and encouragement to you…because you can bring love to a child, too. These are not instructions or guidelines, they are simply what I did and I hope that you can grab a few of my ideas, shape them for your situation, and take them a step further. I have summed this up so that I may have a chance of you reading it to the finish. If I were to tell you each detail, each failure and success, I would be typing for a month. So here is the small (but still long…) version, of a hard, good, terrible, wonderful story…

Fingers, staggering about the computer keys. The keys ought to have been crooked—I had typed this little girl’s plight so many times! Writing up her medical record alone took more time than I would care to admit, as I fumbled through spelling terms that I didn’t know the meanings of. If the list of diagnoses failed to make people understand Katia’s condition, the words “fifteen pounds and six years old” put it in a pretty shocking perspective. After that, I didn’t have to try quite as hard to explain what Katia’s life had been like. I started out advocating for her by blogging on my previously existing website. I got some people to pass my posts around, and tell her plight to people I wouldn’t have otherwise reached. I didn’t have a huge following, so the responses were few. I did have one very special friend who was a huge help and gave me so much encouragement. She loved Katia deeply, though she had only met her through my photos. This woman and I exchanged emails frequently, updating each other on any news about Katia. She basically turned her blog into a home for Katia’s story and photos. She spoke at conventions and handed out fliers about this little girl. On the days that I felt I would never find Katia a family, she was there backing me up, telling me that we could do it. She prayed for, loved and genuinely cared for this child halfway around the world. It is so helpful to have a friend to fall back on. A friend who will help you fight for a cause that you both know is worthy.

I called up the editor of a magazine that I read and loved, Above Rubies. It’s full of stories centered around family, adoption, birthing, mommyhood, and natural living. It goes out to thousands and thousands of people. Getting an article in their actual magazine would be difficult, but getting something in their e-zine was slightly more possible. I talked with the editor who told me that there are so many thousands of children like Katia who need help—she was simply another case.

I responded that there, indeed, are thousands of children who live in terrible situations. ButI had met Katia, I had seen her struggling for each breath, and I knew there was only one of her. And we had to let her know she was loved.

Katia got her story in the e-zine.

Have questions or comments for McKennaugh (or me)? Leave a comment. And stay tuned for part two!

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2 Comments

  1. Advocating: You Can Do It Too (pt 2) | Teens Interceding for Orphans
  2. Advocating: You Can Do It Too (pt 3) | Teens Interceding for Orphans

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