Three Siblings Adopted Together (Romania)

The following story is about a life changing visit to a Romanian state orphanage. Karen Rosella, an Eleos missionary, had no idea that day how God would use her to forever change the lives of three very special children.

By Karen Rosella

One day I visited a large state orphanage to help put on a children's program with our Romanian church group. We were met by about 300 children. I was not sure what to expect, but to tell you the truth, I was more than overwhelmed. There were so many children with so many needs; all of them wanting attention at the same time. The neglect was obvious by the way the children behaved.

It was the younger children who really touched my heart. Most of their heads had been shaved and I couldn't tell if they were girls or boys. Many were not able to talk and only communicated with noises and screams. Some of them were so small that it was hard to believe they were actually 3 years old. I picked some of them up and they remained stiff - not knowing what it was like to be held. A lot of children had sores from herpes and they smelled like urine. I found it hard to be there, and after about a half-hour of the children pulling at me from all directions, I was ready to leave. In my heart I wanted to do so much, but I felt helpless with the vast needs that I saw.

What I didn't know was that God had a plan, even then. At some point during our visit, a specific child caught my attention. While I had others all around me pulling and yelling at me to be picked up, this child just stood there looking up at me with these big brown eyes. Immediately, I was drawn to that child and I even had one of the other girls take a picture.

Over the next few days, these children stayed on my mind. The Director of the private Christian orphanage that we work with told me that she had space in her orphanage to take in more children. She said if I wanted to bring a child to live in our home for a period of time she would work on getting the child transferred to her orphanage. That was all I needed to hear! I asked my husband if it was ok to bring a baby home for a few days. He agreed.

On our next trip to the orphanage, I brought home a little 3-year-old girl with big brown eyes - 'Roxana'! She stayed with us while her transfer was in process. We had no idea how long this would take. I kept signing her out of the state orphanage to keep her with us in our home until the transfer was approved. I did not want to see her go back to the state orphanage.

During this time, Roxana was becoming a part of our lives. When she first came home with us, there were many adjustments. She did not talk and she was afraid of everything; with every change, came screaming. It was amazing, though, to see how God was changing her each day. She was learning how to talk; she seemed to be growing physically, emotionally, and her hair was even starting to grow.

After 2 1/2 months Roxana was transferred to the Sanctuary Orphanage. My husband and I then began discussing and praying about what God would have us do. Did He want us to try to adopt Roxana, or did He just want to use us to get her into a better orphanage? Our feelings for her only grew stronger. We really loved this little girl and it seemed so natural to have her as a part of our lives. We decided to begin the process of adopting her. About 1 1/2 years after the day I met Roxana we joyously welcomed her into our family as our new daughter. Our adoption was complete.

When we were in the process of adopting Roxana, we learned she had an older sister, Loredana, and a younger brother, Ovidiu; who were both living in state orphanages in Romania. After Roxana’s adoption was final, we decided to visit her brother and sister. We thought, the siblings should at least meet and we also left open the possibility in our hearts of trying to adopt them as well if God should ask us to do so.

They were staying in an orphanage 1-1/2 hours away from where we were living. Loredana had only learned she had a brother one month earlier when he was transferred to her orphanage; they were both going to learn that day that they had a sister as well.

As they entered the room it was striking to see the resemblance of the three siblings. We had about one hour with them. Ovidiu, who was three at the time, stayed only about 20 minutes. He cried the whole time. He didn't know us and he was afraid we were going to take him away from the fragile security that he knew. Loredana, was so stunned to learn she had a sister. We watched her as her six-year-old mind tried to take in very quickly all that was happening around her. We could only imagine what was going through her mind... “Why didn’t I know I had a sister?” Why isn’t she here with us? Who are these people she calls Mama and Daddy?” She was quiet most of the time. It was a lot for her to comprehend. We could see she was longing for the life that Roxana found. She held Roxana's hand the whole time and she held the picture of Roxana close to her heart. This little girl broke our hearts!

As Loredana had a hard time comprehending what was happening, we as well, didn’t know what God was doing in our hearts. After what we went through with Roxana’s adoption, the last thing we wanted to do was to repeat it all over again... the questions, the uncertainty, and the long drawn out process! However, it became increasingly clear that God was leading us to bring Loredana and Ovidiu into our family as well. The Bible says, “God sets the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6).

We then began the process of adopting Loredana and Ovidiu. After about a year since first meeting them we were able, through a series of miracles, to get Loredana and Ovidiu transferred to the Christian orphanage that we worked with so they could be near their biological sister and us. They even lived in our home for four months while we were in Romania. It was such a joy to see these three siblings who didn't know each other play, fight, and share together as normal siblings. There was a natural God given bond between them. After four months we returned to the U.S. where we continued to work on their adoption. Loredana and Ovidiu were moved to the Christian orphanage where they received wonderful care.

Unfortunately, our wait for the adoption to be final would last another two years due to Romania's unexpected moratorium on International Adoptions. The wait seemed to drag on endlessly. Then, suddenly, the Romanian Government issued a ruling which allowed the adoption cases of children who have a sibling living abroad to proceed. This opened the door for our adoption to proceed. Five months later we would receive the wonderful news from our adoption agency that the adoption is final -- Loredana and Ovidiu are officially our children. We could now come get them and bring them home.

A Journey Home - by Ed Rosella

After two years of waiting Loredana and Ovidiu took their first steps on American soil! A friend and I went to Romania to pick them up, while Karen and Roxana waited in the U.S. The children were so ready to leave the orphanage! The staff said they didn't believe they had the patience to wait one more day.

We surprised them by arriving earlier in the day than they expected. When someone told them their Daddy was here, they both ran to the door and with a leap Loredana flew into my arms; Ovidiu followed suit right after her. With hugs and emotion their days without parents had come to an end!

We spent a few hours chatting with the staff, but the children were ready to leave from the first minute. They put on their coats and backpacks as a hint that they wanted to go. We ate dinner with some friends and by evening we drove to the nearest city to stay in a hotel. That night before Loredana went to bed, she prayed, "Thank you God for giving me a family!"

The next day we went to an Internet cafe where we sent Karen an e-mail. Loredana sat next to me and Ovidiu sat next to my friend. I asked Loredana if she wanted to write anything to Mama. She wrote something that melted our hearts, "Mama, I love you, thank you for loving me!"

As we drove in the car, the children made several special comments. Loredana said, "I believe I am dreaming that you came to get me." Ovidiu said, "Daddy we no longer belong to the orphanage!" He also said, "thank you for coming to get me!

The next several days were a special time of bonding with the children; everything was new to them. They spent their life in an institution and now the littlest things were amazing to them. We had fun watching them be fascinated by elevators and lights.

It was a long journey home. We had to go to the American Embassy in Bucharest to get their visas to enter America. We arrived in the U.S. where Karen and Roxana greeted us at the airport with balloons, kisses, and hugs. It was a wonderful reunion!

Loredana and Ovidiu's lives had been changed and uprooted in just a few days. They are, however, adjusting very well to their new family and to their new world. Roxana is so thrilled to have her biological sister and brother home. It is amazing to see how well they get along and how powerful the sibling bond is.

One day we drove around and showed them different things about their new country. We asked them if America was different from Romania. They told us, "everything is different"! We asked them, "Like what?" - expecting to hear them say something about the houses and cars they were seeing out of their windows. They however responded, "In America we have a family and we didn't have one in Romania." From their perspective just having a family was more important than anything else in the world.

In all of our years of working with orphans the one thing we have seen that burns in an orphan's heart more than anything else is the desire to have a Mom and Dad who will care specifically and especially just for them. We feel it is our privilege to fulfill this dream for our three very special children.