Celebrating Eight Years of International Adoption at MLJ!

8
Jun

8 year mapThis year MLJ Adoptions celebrates eight years of serving children in need of families. We are proud of how far we have come, and look forward to what the future has in store for our families and for our team. Over the past eight years, we have been blessed to find loving permanent homes for 362 children from around the globe. Of these children, 95 have been children considered older children or children with additional needs. We take a special pride in serving so many older children or those with additional needs. These children are some of the most vulnerable and the least likely to find permanent families.

The children we serve have come from many different areas of the world, with us having developed strong ties and created programs in many of the countries. MLJ Adoptions began primarily serving older children through its Ukrainian hosting program, where older children come to the US to be hosted by American families for a few weeks out of the year. We have recently re-introduced the hosting program from Ukraine, and over the course of the last eight years we have had the opportunity and joy to serve children from 24 countries, and have developed country programs in Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Samoa, and Ukraine. We have also developed a program to serve families in unique circumstances wishing to bring a child home from other countries not typically served by adoption agencies. These families come to us often because they seek to adopt a relative in the country or may have already completed an adoption of a child based on the laws of the child’s country, but are unable to bring the child home to the US. This is a newly developed program for MLJ in response to a US law called the Universal Accreditation Act requiring that adoptive families work with a Hague Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider.

Our Social Services team works closely with families to support our families’ initial transition and long after. Our team is committed to continuing education not only in the formal sense, but in an informal sense, to best prepare, encourage and support families before, during and after adoption. We are always learning from the experiences of our families how to best serve and support them. We are so grateful to our adoptive families and have learned so much from them. Over the course of the last eight years we have had the absolute privilege to work with and walk the adoption journey alongside courageous and self-sacrificing families who are fiercely committed to children in need of families. We are consistently and constantly blown away by the determination of our families despite what can be great frustrations.

Our team has learned and grown so much over the course of the last eight years. We have gone from serving 15 families to nearly 500. We feel so blessed that so many families have walked this adoption journey with us at a time when statistics show the frequency of adoptions falling sharply over the last eight years. It has been an incredible journey, sometimes extraordinarily rewarding and sometimes extraordinarily frustrating. We often work within broken systems in order to serve children in need of families. However, through the systematic brokenness and great loss, we have witnessed great joy when an “orphan” can become just a child again. We have seen some of the best of humanity at work in international adoption, witnessing a parent’s love and willingness to sacrifice at all costs for their child.

We look forward to continuing to serve children and families as long as children abroad are in need.

Nicole Skellenger works as MLJ Adoptions’ Chief Executive Officer and Adoption Attorney. Nicole has spent time in orphanages with children who have nothing and are desperate for affection and has committed herself to using her skills to create better futures for these deserving children.