Five years ago, eight-year-old Otilia was taken from a small Romanian orphanage to northern Virginia to undergo a painful surgery and another complicated process — international adoption.
For the eight children who grew up in the Darius House, a privately-run orphanage in southwest Romania, life wasn’t bad. They called each other brother and sister, and the level of care was second to none in the country, particularly for children with special needs. The kids often had sleepovers at their caregiver’s houses or went on special outings with their other “siblings.”
In short, they had everything they could need or want, except for their own families.
Thankfully, every last one of the original children have been adopted. And one Sunday last summer I witnessed their first reunion in five years as Otilia made the trek back to Romania and entered the Darius House again — this time as a teenager and with her new American family in tow.
The house has changed, the children have changed — like Otilia says, “everything is bound to change.”
This is not your typical family reunion. Otilia has forgotten most of her native language, so communication between siblings is difficult. But everyone understands as her “brothers” Ionica and Florin embrace her repeatedly, kissing her on each cheek. Everyone understands as Teo beams, perched on his wheelchair at the head of the table. And everyone understands as Otilia offers up a prayer of thanksgiving:
“Thank you for everyone who got adopted. Thank you for our families. Thank you for everything.”
For more information about the organization that runs the Darius House, visit Romanian Christian Enterprise’s web site at rcenterprises.org.
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