15 years ago, I found myself on the other side of the world, my heart bursting with love for a baby boy. A baby boy who was abandoned in a hospital in Krivoy Rog Ukraine. His mother was HIV+, and nurses wouldn’t give him a chance. It was only through the incredible orchestrating of God that I was in the right place at the right time to pour in to him in a way that I believe would have a profound impact on the rest of his life.
I could write all day about my experience in Ukraine and the events leading up to me boarding that flight, but I’ll save that for another post, The reason I am writing today is because of a baby boy who changed my life, my perspective and my heart.
It was November 2003, it was cold and I will never forget the way I felt as I walked through the halls and up the stairs of the hospital. Replaying in my mind the conversation I’d just had with the director. “It’s standard” she said, “we always ask expecting moms whether or not they will be bringing their babies home with them, the orphanage can’t possibly fit them all, so they stay, what else could we do with them?”
As I got closer, the stench was enough to make me gag and a nurse asked if I wanted to turn back. I reluctantly declined, unsure of whether or not I could actually handle what I was about to walk in to.
I entered the nursery to find row after row of cribs, each one with a baby, some with several babies, ranging in age from mere days to almost 1. Most of them swaddled so tight they couldn’t move, some soaked in urine, all malnourished and not a sound to be heard.
Not one of them cried, at least not the older ones, they gave that up long ago when nobody came.
Not one of them moved, they couldn’t.
Not one of them diapered. They had something like a receiving blanket wrapped around them in a diaper type fashion, but it didn’t absorb anything. Each time they soiled themselves, they were cleaned with a wet cloth, and the sheet, ‘diaper’ and swaddle blanket had to be changed. But soiling was rare, as they didn’t eat or drink much.
Daily bottles were propped up for each babe, and that was ALL that they had.
Not one of them made eye contact, smiled, or even seemed to realize that there was anyone else in the room.
I learned that day, that there is no place so lost that God can’t save!
Day after day I came back, and day after day the nurses laughed at me. They couldn’t understand or fathom why anyone would come from Canada (which they imagined to be perfection and a life they could only dream of) to take care of these babies. They reminded me daily that “these babies are so worthless, their own mothers didn’t even want them”
This hospital became my mission. Each day I would hug and hold and feed and change as many babies as I could. Beyond the physical and emotional care that I provided, Loads of Love stepped in to bring food, diapers, clothes, mobiles and medical supplies for each one of them.
As the days turned in to weeks and then months, God brought joy in to the lives and hearts of those babies, the nurses and especially the director of the hospital, who’s cry for help was the reason I had walked through those doors on a cold November Day with nothing more than a willingness to help, a connection to an incredible ministry called Loads of Love and a heart that would be obedient to God no matter where it brought me. What I didn’t know, was that it was about to bring me to a baby boy who would steal my heart.
I overheard a conversation about a baby that was quarantined. The only spoke Russian and I understood bits of the conversation, but asked to know more. They brushed me off, saying things like ‘don’t worry, there is lots of babies here for you to hold, leave that one, even you couldn’t love him’
I challenged them on that and eventually learned that his mother was HIV+. He had no chance of being adopted, and there was no money for any medical care. They couldn’t confirm whether or not he was HIV+ due to the lack of basic medical supplies and no desire to spend time or energy on him. They kept saying something along the lines of ‘if he lives he doesn’t have it and if he dies, than he does’.
When they said quarantined, I heard ‘set apart’ and from that moment I knew there was something special about this baby.
I asked if I could hold him and they wouldn’t allow it. I insisted that I was willing to take whatever risks would be associated with caring for him and they responded by saying that the reason had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with him.
They explained that human contact will only prolong his little life and each day he is here is another day they are wasting valuable resources on him. They had already written him off, only because his mother was HIV+. They didn’t even know his status, and even if they did, I was there begging to help.
They denied his existence, but I knew he was real and loved and valuable and wouldn’t have him thought of as anything other than a gift from God. They wouldn’t name him and only called him by his mothers surname ‘Forca’ - Which I deemed to be unacceptable and immediately began calling him Michael or Meesha in Russian.
Each day after making my rounds, I asked if I could hold him and each day they laughed at me, until just once someone gave in and said ‘fine’. She made sure no one was looking, dressed me up in something like a hazmat suit, covered from head to toe and she opened the door.
That day, this baby was held, hugged, kissed and snuggled for the first time in his life. As I held him, God spoke to me and confirmed the message he had already placed on my heart.
This baby was special.
He was set apart.
He was going to live.
God had a plan for him.
I cried and prayed for this boy. It was brief, only minutes and the nurse waved for me to come out. I set him down in that crib, with a peace, knowing that even the dire circumstance he was born in to could not stop God from fulfilling the plan for His life. That God was greater than all of this.
That was the last I saw of him until one day I walked in to the nursery with all the other babies and there he was, with a name tag that said Meesha Forca.
At a time in his life where his brain was developing like rapid fire God brought me in to build an attachment and love him in a way that I know changed the trajectory of his life and opened the door for his potential to be reached as he grew.
Daily visits ensued for the rest of my time in Ukraine. I grew to love him, like he was my own and now having 3 children I can say that my mothers heart was first awakened by this boy who needed me, as much as I needed him, 15 years ago.
I left Ukraine when he was about 6 months old, but I couldn’t stay away. I returned back a few months later to find that he had been moved to the Baby Orphanage.
At this time, the report went something like ‘He is probably not HIV+, but at this point no one would adopt him, he’s to old. It seems they had finally accepted his livlihood and completed the proper documentation including his birth certificate where they formally named him Daniel or Danielca in Russian.
That visit was brief and I returned to Canada, my heart still across the world with this boy. I knew, however, that God didn’t need me in order to fulfill his plan for his life. I felt lucky that I got to play a tiny role, but knew that he wasn’t alone there, he was in the arms of the God who created him.
For a third time, I packed my bags and went back to Ukraine to check on the baby I could never stop thinking about. This time I brought Eric along and together we had the opportunity to love on him some more! I didn’t know it at the time, but that trip would be the last time I saw him.
Shortly after returning home, I got an email from a friend and mentor in Ukraine. Her email read: “I was in the baby orphanage and I have good news for you. Baby Forca was adopted and now he is in another family. I hope that it is good for him. The director can’t tell me who or what country he has gone to as it is a secret”
And just like that, my mamma heart lept out of chest with every single emotion at the same time. I was filled with joy to know that he had a family, and devastated that I wouldn’t see him again. Mostly though, I felt peace knowing that where my part of this journey ended, someone else’s began, and that through it all God would never leave him!
Now, here I am 15 years later and I still wonder so many things about him...
I WONDER where he is
I WONDER if he remembers me
I WONDER if he knows that there is something special about him, that out of hundreds of babies God set Him apart
I WONDER if his family knows that He was totally bald as an infant except for one tiny patch of hair on the back of his head
I WONDER if they know that he called me ‘mamma’
I WONDER if they know that he always had these same 2 fingers in his mouth.
I WONDER if they know that I pray for them
I WONDER, I WONDER, I WONDER
This year, he has been heavy on my heart and I feel an obligation to at least try to find him and his family. I want to share with them all of the pictures of his first few years of life, and to tell him the message God placed on my heart for him so long ago.
So, I am putting out a message, with the risk that nothing may come of this and I may continue to wonder for the rest of my life, but I can’t help but follow this prompting that hearing from me, may be exactly what he and his family need.
They say that there is only 6 degrees of seperation between everyone in the world, right?! If that’s true and in this amazing world of connections via the internet, I don’t think it’s impossible! Here is the information that would be most helpful!
Given Name: Michael or Daniel
Birthday: December 22nd 2003
Location: Krivoy Rog Ukraine
Adopted around age 2
So, can you guys help me out?! Can you share this blog post?! Lets create a Christmas miracle for him and his family (and me!) by sharing a message of love and stories of his first 2 years of life!