Loving Katia (part 2)

Katia with dadMiss yesterday’s post? Read part of McKennaugh’s story here –> Loving Katia (part 1).


My prayers were answered when, after months of advocating, Katia’s story finally fell into the right hands. The Russell family read a poem that I had written about her in an Above Rubies e-zine and contacted me for more information. I sent them a long email about a child thousands of miles away with medical complications that I couldn’t even pronounce. They prayed. God answered. And the Russells started the year long process of adopting Katia. There were home studies and paperwork, dossiers and passports and fundraisng. When at last they got to Ukraine, they found Katia in an even worse condition. She was seven now. She was still fifteen pounds. After each visit they had with her, the Russells wondered if there would be another. Katia lay in her crib, seizing. But she lived. She was the weakest person that I have ever met but, somehow, she was by far the strongest, too.

Katia - homeKatia made it to the US. She was immediately admitted to a hospital here. Seizure medication, surgery, food. Food. Katia doubled her weight and grew four inches in 4 short months. Her blind eyes began to see. Casts shaped her legs, slowly, so they could bend. Her hair grew out and she has a mother to do it up in bows. She has three siblings always darting in to kiss her. She has a daddy to hold her. Now she is no longer a unwanted orphan child. She is someone’s daughter. The change is very visible. She is beautiful.

Every time I talk to Katia’s mother, Heather, or see a photo of this little girl, I think, “I came so close to giving up.” I had spent many endless days–months–trying to advocate for her and find her a family. For the longest time, it had come to nothing. I wondered within if I should give up. But I didn’t. I thank God I didn’t, for my words finally reached a family. I think that nothing in the world feels as good as knowing that you changed someone’s life. That you, with perseverance, helped a child leave a place where they were destined to live a life in a crib. I’m trying to say this in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m trying to collect credit for myself, because I’m not. I just want to say that anyone can make a difference…even a 14-year-old girl with Ukrainian soil on her feet who decides, “God wouldn’t want this child to die without hope. I can’t wait around for someone else to speak for her when I’m supposed to.” I wasn’t anyone special. I just knew that Katia deserved to have a childhood like I had had. It took a lot of time, effort, love and, most if all, a lot of God’s help. The point of this post is that teens can make a difference and that includes you. You can change someone’s life. All you have to do is try. Go for it.

~McKennaugh, age 17
Katia - after

Want to help a Ukrainian orphan? Yuri, a seven-year-old boy, is being adopted from Katia’s orphanage. I met him while I was there and he was the sweetest child. I was able to find him a family only recently and they are trying to raise funds so that they can bring him home. Visit the following link and consider donating to his adoption fund:  Hope for Yuri.

Have you ever seen before and after photos like this? (I haven’t!) How does this story touch your heart?


Partner with His Heart (part 2)

Turner Kids Hopefully you didn’t miss part one of this interview, but if you did, check it out here –> Partner with His Heart (part 1).

What were some of the most helpful things people did for you during your adoptions?
It was so nice to have friends and family who were supportive of our adoptions. I was actually nervous to tell people we were adopting 11 year old twins- but getting a positive response from our loved ones meant so much to us! The adoption process could be long and emotional, just hearing a friend express interest in the process really helped me through the ‘waiting game.’

Practical help, including friends and family donating to our massive tag sales, friends helping me organize benefit dinners, and especially watching my other 3 children while we were traveling overseas. It was also a huge blessing having people coming to my doorstep with meals after we arrived home. On many occasions I was brought to tears by people’s love and generosity during the whole process. And most importantly…prayer! Even though that is the unseen aspect, it was felt the most! I knew people were praying for our family, for the children being adopted, for our children already home, and for my husband and I. I truly believe our adoption experiences were held together by those who were praying for us.

Is there anything you wish people would not have done that they did?
Turners - In EthiopiaOn several occasions I winced at statements and questions asked to my daughters that I knew would make them uncomfortable. I have even heard someone ask them which country they like better! The key is sensitivity. Everyone is excited the child is finally home and they expect that every child will feel the same way, but in reality adoptions stem from trauma and loss. I was surprised to even hear that baby’s adopted right from the hospital will experience this loss. Some people expected that the girls would just automatically be thrilled with America and all the ‘stuff’ we have. We have found that even though our children have been hungry and gone without food, they still miss the food that they were used to. We think we have access to so much great food and yet, we were surprised to find that they were picky and do not like a lot of our foods! International adoptions come along with culture shock for children. We can not believe that our culture is better than any other’s. These children will miss their culture.

Do you have any suggestions for teens who want to help orphans and start adoptions?
Turners - J and HYou are never too young to make an impact in an orphans life! It was my 4 year old daughter–who remembered life in an orphanage–that pleaded with us to “go back and get more kids…they don’t have a mommy and daddy!” My five year old son was a huge catalyst telling us all the time that we should adopt more kids. Your voice is important–your friends and family are hearing what your saying. By reading books on the topic and doing research you can be a wealth of knowledge to families who express interest in the topic. It was Steven Curtis Chapman’s young daughter who had a burden for orphans and would often write letters to her parents asking them to prayerfully consider adoption. God then worked in her parents hearts and, after their Chinese adoptions, the Chapmans started one of the largest orphan care ministries in America, touching thousands of lives….which all started from a young teen praying for orphans.

If you regularly earn money you may choose to support an orphan monthly. At www.helpkorah.org you can choose a child’s profile who is waiting for a sponsor. I know 2 young teens who even decided to ‘share’ sponsoring a child–they split the cost between them monthly. And of course, Prayer! I remember when I was 18 years old–God put the country of India on my heart- it was a heavy burden and I spent hours reading about India. God would wake me up in the middle of the night to pray for the people of India whom I have never met before! BUT…10 years later when we decided to adopt a little Indian girl, I knew that those tears of my youth were not poured out in vain. I was interceding on behalf of my daughter’s country–possibly her young birth parents–without me ever knowing any of that at the time! Your prayers and petitions on behalf of the millions of orphans around the world will be heard in the throne room of heaven…do not grow weary in doing good–you are shaping a child’s destiny!
Turner Family 3
Has God laid a specific country on your heart the way he put India on Mrs. Turner’s heart? What makes you passionate about that country? Do you have any questions sparked by this interview?