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How Long Will I Need Family?
by Rey Diaz
Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2015
When I was accepted to university, the first person I called was my mom.

When I was granted a fellowship at grad school, the first person i called was my mom.

When I got engaged to my wife, Elise, the first person I called was my mom.

When I had my first child, the first person I called was my mom.

When my aunt passed away, the first person I called was my mom.

When I accepted my new position as Executive Director for Orphan Outreach, the first person I called was my mom.

You could say I’m a “mama’s boy,” and there is some truth there.  Even as an adult, I still want to hear my mom’s voice, so full of love and pride.  When I face trouble and trials, so often I find myself remembering with nostalgia the prayers of my mom over my life.

So, at what point will I not need my mom?  When will I grow up, and not need to hear her voice?  I think the answer is never.  

Fifteen years old. The age doesn’t seem so pivotal for most of us. But for children who have grown up in residential care in Eastern Europe and Russia, fifteen might be the most important year of their lives. Fifteen is the year when a tearful goodbye is made to the only family situation they have even known - oftentimes a government institution. Fifteen is the year they hear the heavy door slam behind them. Fifteen is the year they attempt to make it on their own. And then find themselves in the care of a pimp. Or a dealer. Or a crime boss. Fifteen is the year a new door of institutional care is opened to them - a prison offering at least shelter and food.

Statistics on children aging out of the system tell us that they will likely end up in jail or on the streets in prostitution - or dead.  Imagine what it’s like for an orphan child raised in an institution his or her entire life.  Then at 16, 17 or 18, he is thrust into independent living.  Imagine the fear she faces as she heads out into a big, dark world all by herself. Imagine the anxiety, worry and fear racking his brain. Who will he turn to for help?  Who will support and advise her?  Who will be there when he just wants to cry?

Yuliya’s mother died when she was just a baby.  And then a few years later – when she was only 6 - her dad abandoned her. She was raised in an government orphanage. How many years passed before the staff realized she needed glasses?  How many years passed before the staff realized she needed dental work?

Then at 17, with no family or friends to turn to, Yuliya was sent out to an unknown world.  Thankfully, she is now not alone - because she has joined the Orphan Outreach graduate program.

In our broken world, the graduate program creates a sense of belonging for those who have aged out of traditional orphan care.  The staff cares deeply about each orphan.  As the staff gives a list of all they do, I can’t help but realize it’s the same list of everything my mom still does for me!  In a very real way, the program IS family for the young adults like Yuliya.

Yuliya is shy. She’s an introvert, hesitant to give even a small smile.  But she is surrounded by people who love her, pray for her, and are deeply committed to her success.

And because of the special Orphan Outreach family that provides her the love and support she needs, she is now studying to help kids with special needs. God has allowed her to see His purpose, so that she may become family to children who need the love and support she’s been given.

Right now, you can be part of Yuliya's family by supporting the Orphan Graduate programs in Latvia and Russia, and help us establish a NEW program in Guatemala! Your financial gift makes it possible. And right now, your contribution is DOUBLED (up to $200,000) through the kindness of donors who have seen transformation in action.

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