That is a question I have to live with every day. Sarah’s adoption changed her life. The promises she and her friends made to each other changed mine. That’s what happens when a practical mind like mine witnesses something happening that is statistically all-but impossible.
As I left my friends behind in that orphanage, I made promises to myself. I vowed that I would be back with a program to help them before they aged out of the system. I returned to the United States and my brothers’ families and mine worked tirelessly to build our company to the point where we could afford to help. That was why it was so critical for me to begin a program in 2012. Sarah was thirteen. Some of her friends were two years older than her. 2012 gave me one year to get the program going before it needed to be available to her friends.
We began with meetings and finding those who could help us. The seed was just beginning to sprout when catastrophe struck. Some people in the United States and other countries were unhappy with the results of presidential elections in Russia. Accusations were made, political sabre-rattling began, and then increased. Some U.S. charities in Russia got involved in politics that they never had a right to. Soon Russia began ejecting foreign “non-government organizations.” It finally got to the point where domestic agencies in Russia were required to fill out forms registering as “Foreign Agents” if they accepted money from sources outside of Russia.
That label, “Foreign Agent,” left over from cold-war times, concerned our Russian friends greatly. They asked us to stop pressuring them to establish the program. We respectfully honored their requests.
Ele Lembra’s lack of presence in Russia has absolutely nothing to do with the ban on adoptions from Russia to the United States. The people of Russia, and particularly the children, are my friends. That friendship is not conditional on whether or not Russia allows U.S. citizens to adopt from that country. Nothing would make me happier than to be able to help Russian children to have a better chance for success in their home country. Sadly, because some charities acted irresponsibly, Russia responded. Unfortunately, the reaction was harsh and stopped many positive things from happening.
Sarah made promises that seemed far more outrageous than the promises I made. She was able to keep hers, though it appears that I won’t be able to keep mine. I would always welcome the opportunity to expand Program Chance into Russia with open arms. Until that happens, I can only keep my promise in effigy. I will do all that I can to help other orphans in other areas. Perhaps, one day, I will have the opportunity privilege honor to work with children aging out of Russian orphanages. I will hope and pray for that day.
Please help us to assist orphans who age out of orphanages. Make a donation now. Ele Lembra is a 501c3 public charity. Donations to Ele Lembra are tax deductible with the United States Internal Revenue Service.