Have you ever felt like you were living inside a movie script? I recall a winter night in Romania, January 1999, waiting… hiding in the cemetery next to the orphanage.
At some point midweek, during our stay at the orphanage, Dale had asked Virginia about four particular children, siblings. She said, “Oh no, that mother would never give up those children”. She went on to say how their mother loves them, that she lives out of the country, and that they have an Aunt who visits them and so they were not “adoptable” children.
Based upon Dale’s strong sense that these were the children we should adopt, he continued to pursue gathering information about them; he asked the nurse for further information. Sensing our sincerity, and with her heart of love for all of the children, she gave Dale the information he requested in order to contact a relative in a nearby town. Working as the orphanage nurse, and coming from a large Christian family herself, she knew how desperately children needed a home rather than a large institution to call home. Dale asked her if there was a way for us to meet with the relative who was involved with them. She said that she would arrange for us to meet the children’s Aunt, Maria, in a neighboring town some 40 miles away. She knew of Aunt Maria because of her many visits to see the children on Saturdays. This began an adventurous journey for us.
We arranged to meet “Ileana” on Friday night in the cemetery at 9:00 p.m., once she finished her shift. This was not easy to do as we were being monitored for our safety while in the country by our host. Fortunately, Gene – our friend and Virginia, had plans that evening to go and visit someone so they would be gone late into the night.
Ileana had arranged for a taxi driver, who she trusted and could confide in, to meet us at the appointed time. We all quickly jumped into the Dacia Taxi and headed to Suceava. Ileana took us to her sister’s small apartment to explain our situation. We needed help from her since she was a teacher, bilingual, and could interpret for us. From there we went to the train station to use the phone to call Aunt Maria. Sure enough, Maria was home and willing to have late night visitors; Ileana’s sister briefly explained on the phone the intention of our visit.
It was about 10:30 p.m. when we entered the third-floor apartment, a big smile crossed Maria’s face; we soon learned that she recognized us! The previous Sunday we had been in her church in Burdigeni and Dale had spoken there, briefly mentioning to the congregation our desire to adopt children. Now, here we were, standing in her apartment inquiring about her nephew and nieces. We had a very good introductory visit. Maria said she would contact her sister, Rodica, the children’s biological mother and explain the situation. Maria also informed us that she had brothers living in Michigan that we could contact as well upon our return to the U.S. I remember feeling like our mission had gone well, and realized that something was unfolding that would dramatically change our lives forever.
Making contact with Maria was important and now we had to get back into the orphanage at midnight without being detected or our whereabouts questioned. Our plan was to be dropped back off at the cemetery. Just as we were exiting the taxi, Virginia’s driver pulled onto the main road in front of us and raced over to us (for some reason I think of a scene in 101 Dalmatians whenever I think of this). Ileana narrowly escaped in the taxi, missing the confrontation that ensued. After a heated exchange, Dale assured Virginia that all was well and we were safely back for the evening. When we rounded the fence of the orphanage many children were hanging out of the windows and yelling something about finding us! So apparently our MIA episode had been buzzing about the orphanage that night.
We were due to leave for the U.S. on Monday, so we had the whole weekend to observe the children. On Sunday we attended the church connected with the orphanage and spotted the youngest of the four, Betinia, sitting in the choir area playing with a hole in the front of her dress. She was in the children’s choir and loved to sing! She was almost 5 years old and so cute. After church I went up to her and picked her up and hugged her. I knew this was, perhaps, my last opportunity to meet her and I didn’t want to miss it. The older siblings were hanging around us continuously and so we knew we’d get to spend more time with them.
Upon our departure, we left with the sense that these were the children we were hoping to adopt; so we felt certain our paths would cross again.
Once we return to the US, Dale contacted the children’s uncles in the Detroit area and explained the situation to them. They had already been contacted by Aunt Maria and also had spoken to Rodica, who lived in Italy. We learned that George, their biological father, had been living in Israel for sometime and that little or no contact had been made with him for about 5 years. So having made these initial contacts we continued to pray and wait to see what lay ahead.
Photo Credit: Pixabay, Demary