Note: I had the privilege of speaking at the annual Alianță Romania Fără Orfan (Alliance Romania Without Orphans) Summit The following is the transcript of my workshop. It was a wonderful group of people, and the first time I have publicly spoken with an interpreter. Here is a picture of a courageous single woman Daniella, who attended the workshop and left very encouraged. She is in the process of adopting a seven year old daughter! Please pray for her and ARFO!
Greetings to you and your beautiful country from The United States. My name is Bonnie Klein and I have had the privilege to visit Romania every year for the past four years. I have been married to my husband Daniel for 42 years. We have six children. Our oldest daughter, Marie, and her husband Christian and their children live here. Our youngest daughter Isadora was born in Romania. She had lived in an orphanage since birth. She was adopted in 1999 when she was 6 years old.
When my husband and I first married we never planned on having a large family. We had a son, Aaron and then three years later we had a daughter, Marie. Five years later we had another son, Andrew, then a daughter, Sarah and then another son, Timothy. It was a happy family with five children. Even though by American standards we didn’t have a lot of money, we had lots of love and God always provided everything we needed.
When our youngest, Timothy, was 6 yrs. old, our hearts were stirred to consider adopting a 4-year-old girl. At first, I must confess I felt a little silly. Why would I want another child? I had three sons and two daughters! As a follower of the Lord Jesus, I did believe that every child was created in the image of God and every child’s life has value.
My husband and I had read the scripture in the Bible in James 1:27 –
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
We were caring for my mother who had been widowed. This was acceptable in our culture to care for our elderly parents, but children? I already had a house full of children, then ages 6, 8, 10, 15, and 18! Was there room at our family’s table and in our hearts for one more?
We prayed earnestly about this important decision. We shared the idea with our children. Everyone was in agreement – we did have room in our hearts and we can always make room for one more at our table!
I believe every life has a story. We have the privilege of writing parts of an orphaned child’s story by adopting them into our family. We share our identity with them and our home and our love, as we add chapters to their life story. We do not have to be childless to do this.
This is why Adoption is Not Second Best. Many couples who cannot have biological children will choose to adopt and many people will think it is second best.
We discovered that adoption is not second best, it is instead God’s good plan. In the Bible in Psalm 68, it describes God as this-
“God is in his holy Temple. He is a father to orphans, and he defends the widows. God gives the lonely a home.”
This is God’s plan for the orphan crisis, to give the lonely child a family. For each of us to make room in our hearts and at our table for a child. If those who were able to, made the choice to adopt, then the problem would be solved. You being present here speaks of your heart being concerned for these children. God bless you.
It was 1996 when we started our adoption journey. A little 4-year-old girl name Izidora located in Târgu Mureș was presented as a “waiting child” to us. A “waiting child” was a child that most people did not want to adopt, either because of their age or having some kind of problem. She was four years old, had some developmental delay and a heart murmur that possibly needed surgery.
My husband and I were not nervous about these things. All children, including the ones in our home had different medical needs. When you have a biological child you do not know what you are getting – boy or girl? Personality? Hearing? Think of how different you are from your brother or sister! No two children are alike, each are created uniquely by our heavenly Father.
What I was nervous about was this – could I love an adopted child the way I loved my biological children? How could I know for sure? This was something that we wanted to do and asked God to give us the special love needed for this child.
We discovered that LOVE is more a choice than a feeling. I had chosen love many times for my biological children, from changing a dirty diaper to talking with a teen. In fact, I discovered that it was easier for me to add a child to the end of our family because I already knew that sometimes children could be hard to love!
Our adoption process was a long wait. What was supposed to take one year took three years. By the time Isadora came into our family she was just a few months less of being seven years old. I will not pretend it was easy. All children are a blessing and a burden! An adopted child, especially an older one, will come with painful memories of being very alone. They will struggle to trust you, because their experience is there has been no parent they can learn trust from.
It is a slower road, but today we have so many resources to help us connect with an adopted child. Because I had raised five other children I was able to relax with childish things Isadora did because I was already a mother. It was easier for me to mother her, because I had experience.
As an adopted child Isadora did struggle with identity. I have found this to be true with all six of my children growing up, trying to figure out who they are. It is especially true for an adopted child.
As we loved and encouraged our daughter throughout the years we saw her start to trust us and her siblings. We have told her that her life is a story that God is writing, He brought her into our home and made her a Klein. He has a good plan and purpose for her life.
In the Bible in the book of Acts 17: 26 it says, “From one man God made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and God marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
We believe that God also allows her to write parts of her story and now at 25 years old, Isadora works full time and lives independently of us. She gets to make her own choices, and like some of our other adult children, she sometimes makes choices we do not think is the best choice!
She does know these things though – she knows she has a family, people who will always support and love her. She has parents who will listen to her and speak truth to her. She has a place to belong during the holidays. She knows that God has a good plan and purpose for her life.
Isadora’s story is not over, she has a bright future. Her short fifteen years in our home seems like the blink of an eye now. It is a few chapters in the book of her life. Having the privilege of being her mother is one of the best things that has happened to me. I am a better person because of loving her.
I know God in a more intimate way because I now understand His unconditional love for me. Our family table would have an empty spot without her. My heart would have an empty spot without her.
Sometimes the problem of the orphan crisis seems overwhelming. We can be tempted to think that what we do will not make much difference. We have discovered that making room at our family table and in our hearts for Isadora was like planting a seed. And that seed grew and sprouted and multiplied.
Never in our wildest dreams did we think Marie’s trip to Romania in 1999 was more than to help my husband pick up Isadora. But God had more planned. He planted a seed in her heart to love the children here. She has been back and forth from the United States several times and finally moved here permanently in 2014.
Never in our wildest dreams did we think that our oldest son, Aaron and his wife would adopt internationally, especially from Ethiopia. But God had more planned. When traveling to Ethiopia in 2009 God planted a seed in their hearts to love the children there. They are living and working in the US, while working to create a vocational school for teens in Ethiopia.
Never did we think we would have such a diverse family, but it is one that we are proud of because we believe it is a little picture of heaven, our unity being part of a larger family.
I have found Romanians to be a very hospitable people. So, I would ask you to search your hearts and ask yourself, “Do I have room at our family’s table for just one more? Do I have room in my heart? Is this something I have the ability to do?”
While you ponder those questions, I would like to show you some pictures of our family. Then if you have any questions I will try my best to answer them.
January 15, 1999 – We celebrate “Dora Day” the day she entered the United States. I am telling her here that “I am your mama!” I felt instant love for her!
1999 – This is the picture we sent out to friends and family announcing Isadora joining the Klein family.
2001 – Isadora’s school picture – she is 9 years old and her heart did not require any surgery.
2005 – Isadora’s school picture – she is 13 years old with braces on her teeth.
2008 – 16 years old and her favorite food is Chinese – years of braces are over!
2009 – Ten Year Anniversary of “Dora Day”, so we celebrated with having our picture professionally taken together.
2009 – Our oldest son, Aaron served on a local college board. He had a special function that his wife could not attend so he asked his youngest sister Isadora age 17 to be his guest.
2009 – Easter Sunday and the family has grown to include our first grandchild, Spencer Daniel. Our oldest son, Aaron and his wife adopted Spencer from South Korea.
2010 – Christmas photo and Isadora age 18 has glasses now.
2010 – My daughters; Sarah, Marie, and Isadora attending a church women’s retreat with me.
2011 – Regency Ball – Isadora picked out the dress style and fabric and I made this gown for her.
2011 – Mother’s Day with the four remaining children
2011 – Isadora with her father at her high school graduation – 19 years old
2012 – Isadora with her good friend Loni
2012 – Isadora with her best friend Paige
2012 – The family table at Thanksgiving at our oldest son’s home.
2013 – Christmastime with Isadora age 21
2014 – Father’s Day at church – my husband Daniel is in the middle with Isadora, beside him. Our son, Aaron is on the left with his wife Cacey, and our son, Andrew is on the right with his wife, also named Casey! We told our youngest son, no Caseys!
2015 – Isadora receives a book in Romanian for her 23rd birthday from Marie. We have tried hard to help her be proud of her Romanian heritage.
2016 – We had a family reunion and all six children were home at the house they were raised in. It was a special time and they re-posed the same as the original picture of the six of them.
2016 – This is a picture of me celebrating my 60th birthday last year. These are my precious grandchildren. Aaron and Cacey adopted two more children from Ethiopia, they are on the left, Teddy and Emma. On my right is Spencer, my first grandchild, even though his brother Teddy is my oldest grandchild. The two little matching girls are Addy and Mercy and they live here in Romania and attend the public school. The youngest boy with them is Noelan. He was in the process of being adopted by Marie and Christian and much to our sadness, the adoption process failed. Christian shared in the last session about that story.
2016 – We also have a grandson Taylor and a new granddaughter Cassidy. Our family has had our share of heartache as I have two granddaughters not with us named Eisley and Ava. It’s important to mention their names as it’s important to remember them.
2017 This is a current picture of Isadora currently 25 years old. She is maturing, working at a McDonald’s and has become a manager! She is in the process of renting her first apartment. She recently has saved her money to purchase a car. She lives just 20 minutes from us. She is self-sufficient. She knows she is loved and has a family. We are very proud of her accomplishments.
In the United States we have an annual Holiday called Thanksgiving. It was celebrated just two days ago. Most people eat a traditional turkey dinner. We talk about what we are thankful for. This is a picture of our family’s table from last year. I am so thankful we adopted Isadora and she is part of our family.
Romania will always be very special to us as this country allowed us to make our family complete.
This last photo is of a Romanian dinner table with tradition dishes – but you might also notice some empty chairs.
So, I would ask you again to search your hearts and ask yourself, “Do I have room at our family’s table for just one more? Do I have room in my heart? Is this something I have the ability to do?”
Thank you for listening to my story.