My name is Tamara Urbanczyk. I am a licensed social worker, and I work for Children’s Connections, Inc., as a Child, Family, and Adoption Specialist. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to write this article for National Adoption Awareness Month. By writing this article, my hope is to raise awareness about adoption, and hopefully inspire other people to adopt. I also hope to encourage people who are in the process of adoption, whether it be domestic, or international.
The adoption process is the ultimate sacrifice by birth parents and an incredible gift to adoptive families. I am truly one of the lucky ones who get to help build families through adoption while also witnessing the journey. Being allowed to use my profession in a field that I am so passionate about is a gift.
I have been positively impacted by adoption throughout my entire life, and the impact it has is growing daily. There is an ever increasing passion in me to be an advocate for children.
Growing up, I was often told stories of the day I was born, but one story told by my favorite uncle, Jeff, is by far my favorite. Uncle Jeff reminds me periodically that my birth was the reason he canceled a long planned fishing trip with his college friends, so he could be present to celebrate my arrival. I have always admired, respected, and looked up to him. He is one of my best role models. He has such a great sense of humor, and always knows how to make people feel special. He is a model father, husband, and son. So how does this story relate to National Adoption Awareness Month? My Uncle Jeff was adopted. His birth mother and birth father made the decision to place him in an orphanage at birth, and his adoptive mother and father welcomed their baby home at the age of 6 months. If I could speak with her today, I would tell her how appreciative I am of her. If she had not given him the gift of life, we would not have been so abundantly blessed by him.
Although I have always viewed adoption as a wonderful thing, during most of my life I never thought about special needs adoption. For some reason, I never realized or took the time to think about it. Thankfully, in November 2010, I had the opportunity to learn about special needs adoption through a service I attended on orphan awareness. The presenter was a mother, Kim, who had adopted a special needs orphan fromLithuania, and she was about to start the journey to rescue another special needs orphan fromRussia. I had a great respect for her, and her cause, but I am ashamed to admit, I was somewhat distracted by the euphoria of being pregnant with my first born child. At that time, I didn’t feel an urgency to personally do something to make a difference for special needs orphans. During her presentation, she referred to a ministry called, Reece’s Rainbow. She encouraged all in attendance to view the website and then find a way to make a difference. After I went home that day, I looked up Reece’s Rainbow on the web, and it started stirring a passion within me for orphans with special needs.
I had already witnessed Kim’s devotion to her son Cole, and couldn’t help but notice his sweet natured personality. When I found out that she and her husband, Rick, had committed to rescuing another special needs orphan, I was so excited to witness their journey. Throughout the year that followed, I watched them rescue the most precious little boy named Gabe.
Although the process was a joyous event, it was also plagued with sorrow. By observing and reading her blog, I learned some startling information. Gabe had been in an orphanage since birth because he had down syndrome. Gabe was much like the first special needs child she adopted, Cole. Cole was placed in an orphanage at birth because he had fetal alcohol syndrome and autism. Children who are born with any “defect” in the region where they originated, are quickly labeled as “imperfect” and their parents are encouraged to leave them at the hospital. Unfortunately, many of the parents are influenced by this advice, and these children are deemed inappropriate for society. These precious children usually spend 3 to 4 years in a baby house, and then they are transferred to adult mental institutions, depending on the country and region. I still cannot believe that 3 and 4 year old children are sent to adult mental institutions and isolated their entire life. Kim described Gabe’s transfer to the institution as “traumatic” for him. Often times these children are severely abused and neglected in these institutions, sometimes to the point of death. I want to do more for children like Gabe and Cole who are still waiting to be rescued.
There is so much to be learned from Cole and Gabe. In speaking with Kim, she described Cole and Gabe as “the light of her life.” She also explained that parenting these 2 boys brings more joy than can ever be imagined. She described 17 year old Cole as her “hero” who finds beauty in everything and everyone. When speaking about 5 year old Gabe she stated, “I can’t imagine his precious spirit being suppressed, and him not being allowed to express himself and his needs.” For myself personally, I look forward to any opportunity to interact and converse with Cole or Gabe.
My experiences with my Uncle Jeff, and with Cole and Gabe, have greatly impacted my life. I love my job at Children’s Connections, and it is so much more than “just a job,” for me. Adoption is my passion. I can’t wait for the opportunity to help create more families through adoption. I am also very honored to be working with birth mother’s who are giving the ultimate gift.
If you are considering adoption, or in the process of adopting, whether it be domestic or international, I extend my deepest respect and gratitude. Adoption is a beautiful thing for all involved. I would like to close with a picture of Cole and Gabe, because a picture brings a story to life. I am thankful that they have a reason to smile, and that they are deeply loved.