Wanted: Four Loving Families

Oh man, today is your lucky day!

Today is the day I introduce you to some beautiful treasures.

I promised that I would begin to advocate in earnest.  I warned you this day was coming.  Woohoo!

There are 9 boys that I have been told are available for adoption.  For some months we have been in the process of verifying with the government department of adoptions that yes, they are 100% legally free for adoption.  At this point I have confirmation on 4 of the 9 boys, and we are waiting on the rest.

So, let’s meet the first 4!

*FYI, I’m giving them alias names to protect their identities.  

Meet Alex!Oh my friends, this boy is precious.  Alex came to Romaniv when he was 7 years old and now he is 15.  We have until the end of this year to find him a family and then he will “age out”, meaning he will become to old for adoption.  We can’t let this happen because this boy deserves the love of a family.  Jed and I both agree that he would make a FABULOUS son.  He is such a helper!  Last summer, when the weather was nice, we would take the Isolation boys outside and some of the big boys who have more freedom would join us.  Alex was always in that group.  He would run to help us push wheelchairs, or gently take our blind boys by the hand.  Every week when bananas are being served he is sure to be seen helping the less capable boys with their bananas, making sure no one steals from anyone else.  PRECIOUS.

In 2011

His first picnic!

Alex doesn’t speak, but I wonder if he would, if he were given the chance for love and security?  I know it might sound scary to adopt a 15 year old, but this sweet boy is not your average 15 year old.  He has never had the experiences my 6 year old has had.  He is a responsible helper, but he is also like a little child.  Precious, precious boy.  Someone please see this treasure!!

Meet Stephen!Stephen is one of our Isolation Hall treasures.  We want a family for him so desperately.  He is 12 years old, but really about the size of a 6 or 7 year old- just an itty bitty thing.  The nannies say that he is blind, but we believe he can at least see shadows.  He always wants to be near the window- especially on sunny days.  There are two places you can usually find Stephen- either standing under the window at the end of the Isolation Hall, or sitting on a chair in the kitchen, waiting for the next meal.

Where he spends most of his days

Jed was describing Stephen’s behaviors to a woman in the US who works with children with visual impairments and she said that his description matches many children they work with who have sensory issues surrounding their vision.  She said that for some of those children they can actually be taught to see!  Stephen is extremely sensory-seeking and needs to feeeeeeeel the world around him  🙂  He loves to spin, flap his arms, spin some more, run, spin, you get the idea.  He has absolutely no sensory input at Romaniv- so he has to create it himself.

Last summer

He does not speak and displays many institutional behaviors.  He is NOT harmful or aggressive to himself or others.  He is absolutely adorable and has so.much.potential.  He is more than a diagnosis.  Please see our Stephen!!  I have video for interested families.  🙂

Meet Micah!Okay, Micah.  Ridiculous cuteness.  To know him is to love him.  Micah has lived with the big boys for many years, but only recently has been staying in the Isolation Hall.  He gets severe headaches and they put him in with our Boys when that happens.  Our volunteer team absolutely fell in love with him over the past month.  He is so funny!  He speaks and always says “thank you” and “goodbye”.  Somehow he is super polite!  It’s hilarious to see it in that environment.  I have awesome video for interested families.  You just have to see this boy in action.  His pictures don’t do him justice.

In 2008

In 2011

Micah turns 16 this year and we just have to find him a family by the end of the year or he will age out.  One very important consideration is that he has a brother who was born in 2001 and they must be adopted together.  Unfortunately we don’t know anything about this boy.  He is in another orphanage.  I know, I know, this is a lot to take on.  But please, don’t turn away.  I truly believe God can do anything- even provide a family for Micah and his brother.  🙂

Annnnnd last but not least…

Meet Jonathan!Jonathan is the boy I know the least from this group.  I simply haven’t spent much time with him.  He used to live in the Isolation Hall, but shortly after we moved here he was moved to the big boy group.  He is 12 years old, but about he size of an 8 year old.  He came to Romaniv from the baby house orphanage when he was 5.

In 2008. SO CUTE.

Last summer. Working hard! 🙂

We’ve heard that Jonathan has a heart condition, but I really need to get that verified.  He is described as kind and cheerful and I heard from one volunteer that he always helps the nannies clear the table after meals.  🙂  I will try my best to find out more information about him, I just didn’t want to delay getting his face out there.  Are you out there Mommy and Daddy?

So there you have it.  There’s the first of our 9.  I hope to tell you about the rest as soon as I get confirmation of their availability.

I know they are not little babies.  I know that you might not fall in love at first glance.  But I can vouch for their value.  I have met them.  I have held each of them in my arms.  They are not just pictures and diagnoses and ages.  They are real boys- as real as my own sons.  I can vouch that God’s plans for them are of no less value than his plans for my own sons.  They have spent their growing up years thus far in a place no person should have to live for one day- let alone years.

Their childhoods have been stolen.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Please stop and ask the Lord how He would have you respond.  If you can’t adopt, will you at least help me share them with the world?  My faith is big.  There are adoptive families out there.  We just need to introduce them to their sons.  🙂

If you are interested or would like more information please contact me!  You can comment here or email me at kjohnson@wideawakeinternational.org

*Thank you to Mission to Ukraine for the pictures of the boys when they were little!


Not a lot of words needed today.



A family has found their boy.  Vladik doesn’t know it yet, but in just a few months, Lord willing, he will be a beloved son, orphan no more.


We are rejoicing and we can’t wipe the grins off our face or the tears off our cheeks.


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Oh the joy he will bring to his family.  UNBELIEVABLE.




The family wishes to remain private right now, until they are further along in the adoption process.  There are many unknowns in adopting from this country, so please pray with us for a speedy process with favor all along the way. Just know that they are doing everything they can to get to their boy as quickly as possible!  We will share more when we are able.



Hold on baby boy, Mommy and Daddy are comin’ for ya!  WAHOOOOO!!!!!

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  John 14:18



About a Boy

One year ago, at seven years old, he was transferred to our institution. We were shocked when we saw him. He was so beautiful. His skin was soft and unblemished, his eyes were bright, his smile mischievous. We said he didn’t belong in that place of suffering, but honestly, no one does.

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The nannies doted on him, laughing when he only wanted to eat milk and cookies instead of borscht. They would sneak him candy and rub his soft cheeks.

Then time moved on, and the darkness weighed down on him. Those bright eyes and that beautiful smile began to fade. Children are not made for institutions. Children are made for families- and he had none.

By spring he was less social. He allowed us to hold him, but didn’t seek out the physical affection like he had before. Soon he began to self-harm- just a bit- and not always, mostly just when he was stressed.


Summer came and he was regularly self-harming. We tried to take him to the Sensory Room but he would cry and try to escape. There are so many of them and so few of us, we had to focus our precious Sensory Room time on boys who would tolerate the therapy. And in the background he was fading away.


Fall brought brisk wind and the time had come for us to stay inside.  When we would arrive for our visits we rarely saw him up walking in the hall.  He was more and more often found in bed, arms restrained in an effort to keep him from harming himself. He would smile when we entered his room. We would stand over his crib talking softly to him and he would laugh. Then we would take the restraints off, hoping to give him some moments of love and he would cry, reaching for the restraints and the comfort they had come to provide. It was almost as if he knew he needed them- he knew he couldn’t help but self-harm- and he had no Mommy or Daddy to protect him from himself. I remember never wanting to leave him on those fall days, but having no choice.


December came along and he was almost always in bed. I do remember one day, December 12th, when he was up and had a light in his eyes- almost like before! We all praised him and cuddled him and hope filled our hearts. He and I played in the hall for quite a long time and I was reminded of how far he had come from the boy he used to be. But I hoped he was coming around.


Then came January and our hopes were dashed. He stays in bed all the time now. He doesn’t smile when people enter his room now to fetch him from bed, in fact he doesn’t smile at all. He is like a ghost boy. He is a shadow of his former self and we are lost on how to help him. The nurses and doctors try music and massage and attention, but he only declines. It seems that he has given up.

The thing is, I don’t blame him. He is only a boy- yet he is without a childhood. He suffers day after day and he has no one to comfort him. Overworked nannies simply can not give him what he needs. The nurses are stumped and worry night and day about him. I dream about him at night. His eyes have no light. He is a shell.



But it doesn’t have to be this way. You see, out of 80 boys at our institution only 12 are available for adoption, and he is one of them. He is legally free to have a family, and now we need to find them.

Do you have room at your table for one more precious child? Do you have room in your heart for one more invaluable soul? No, I cannot tell you how he will develop or if he will ever speak or if he will ever live on his own. I cannot tell you how he will respond to a Mommy and Daddy or how long it will take him to trust or how long before he will accept your love. But I can tell you that he is valuable and he was created with purpose and he is worth any inconvenience adoptive parents could encounter on his behalf.



Please stop and pray. Please ask God how you should respond. We are watching our boy waste away before our very eyes and I almost want to beg for someone to come take him away. But all I can ask of you is to be open to saying yes.

Open your heart and trust that if God is asking you to respond He will give you everything you need to do what He is asking you to do.

Time is of the essence.

*Any serious inquiries can be sent by email or left in a comment. I approve the comments before they are published, so if you want your comment to be private it will stay that way.

The Most Important Post

November is a good month.  We have two family birthdays, it’s Thanksgiving, the holiday season begins, the weather is cozy, and it’s National Adoption Month!  Did you know?  Have you heard?  There is a whole month designated for sharing about the plight of orphans and the blessing of adoption.  Yep, that sounds just about perfect to me.

We’ve been sitting on some important information for a few months now, considering how, when, and where we would share our hearts.  Well, now is the time and here is the place.  After all, it is National Adoption Month!

With a bit of fear and trembling I’m going to share, and then I’m going to ask you to prayerfully respond.  There are many different great responses, and your response will likely be different than mine.  For the sake of our Boys, every response is important.


The work we do, and Mission to Ukraine has done for many years at Romaniv is important and necessary.  It is life-altering for our Boys.  Boys who were once strangers that flinched at touch and cowered from any human interaction are now dear loved ones who come scooting and crawling and hobbling as soon as they hear our voices.  One boy who used to avoid eye contact at all cost now seeks out our gaze and will sit forehead to forehead with Jed as the guitar is played- just looking into Jed’s eyes. No words, just a look.  It is enough for us to see that God is doing miracles.

And yet.

No work we do could ever be more beneficial than a family.

No treatment could ever be as effective as the love of a family.

No weighted vest could be more comforting than a mother’s arms.

No helmet could offer better protection than a father’s embrace. 

This work we do is a stopgap.  It is the next best thing possible in this situation.  But it is not a family, and it is not nearly enough.  There is no future for our Boys here.  Even if our dreams come true and we build group homes where they can be loved and cared for, it still won’t hold a candle to a life spent as part of a loving family.  There are nannies at Romaniv that do care for the Boys deeply, but they face an impossible task.  How can 2 nannies care for more than 20 boys with severe disabilities and do an even satisfactory job?

Most of the boys and men at Romaniv are not legally free to be adopted.  Either their parents still maintain their parental rights, or the boys are over the age of 18 which prevents them from being adopted.  To those boys and men we commit to doing whatever we possibly can to love them, care for them, and give them a future worth living until they day they are made whole in heaven.


Some of our Boys, though, ARE available for international adoption.  We haven’t shared this with you before for several reasons that might be hard to understand.  There are many layers to this.  We feel protective of our Boys and the work that is being done; we want to avoid any exploitation; we have a relationship to maintain with the orphanage directors that requires vigilant care.  Nothing about this is simple, so we tread lightly with steps full of prayer.  And yet, one of our Boys is not thriving.  He is wasting away before our eyes and we can’t stand by and watch without acting.  He is ill and will never thrive in an institutional setting.  He needs the best medical care.  He needs a nutrition plan.  He needs therapy of all kind.  Most of all he needs a mommy and daddy to love him as their son- to believe in him, to fight for him and shower him with affection.  We are compelled to act and we can’t hold off any longer.  Time is of the essence.

So I’m asking that you see our Boys.  I’m asking that you stop and see them for the treasures they are.  See their immense value.  See their precious beauty.  Consider their lives as weighty as your own and ask the Lord how you should respond to this knowledge that some of them are waiting for families.  If you follow Jesus you are called to care for the orphan in some way.  Even if you don’t believe in Jesus I bet you can agree that this is a justice issue that can not be ignored.

“Learn to do right; seek justice.
    Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
    plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

Maybe you are supposed to pray.  A million times thank you!  Prayer is important and essential.  Any of the progress that’s been made has only come through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Our Boys need prayer!

Maybe you are supposed to give financially to help improve the quality of life for our Boys.  Yes!  Thank you so very much!  None of this would even be happening if we didn’t have faithful financial supporters on the team.

Maybe you are supposed to adopt.  Please don’t dismiss this response.  I am confident that some of you who read this are called to respond through adoption.  Children were made for families!  Children were not made for institutions.  One hour spent at Romaniv will prove that point.  I must warn you though that any romanticism concerning the adoption of one of our Boys ends with the fuzzy feelings you may be feeling as you read this post.  It will not be romantic.  It will be a hard road and much faith will be required.  But- it will be a road worth walking.  I am confident of that.  Orphans are very important to our God and He has gone to great lengths to prove His love for these particular Boys.  He will not allow the world to forget them now, and He’s not about to forget them when they step out of Romaniv’s gates.


I was with these Boys yesterday.  I held them in my arms.  I kissed their cheeks.  I held their hands so they wouldn’t harm themselves.  They are real people.  They were created with purpose and God has good plans for them.  I can’t even imagine one of my four children living like our Boys.  I can’t imagine my Ezra, nearly 9 years old but the size of a toddler, sitting day after day rocking back and forth in his bed.  I can’t imagine him sitting and sitting and waiting and waiting for his life to begin.  I can’t imagine not going to him and taking him out of that place.  Our Boys are as real as Ezra and they are as deserving of love as he.  They were created with just as much purpose and intentionality.  They were created in the image of God and God does not make mistakes.

There you have it.  Now you know, and I now I humbly ask you to respond.  I ask you to stop and pray and ask the Lord what He would have you to do.  Please pray that adoptive families   would step out with boldness and faith.  Any serious inquiries can be emailed to kjohnson@wideawakeinternational.org and I would be happy to talk with you more.  If you have questions about what adopting an institutionalized child looks like in real life I can connect you with adoptive parents who have walked that path.

Please share this post and give our Boys a voice this month.  Thank you!

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.” Proverbs 31:8