Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Farewell 2014

Christmas and New Years Greetings!

   Before this year disappears and a new one starts, I wanted to take the time to thank you all for your help, support and patience this year! It has been a crazy year for us setting up the Board and then the 501c3, as well as fun and invigorating! Change can be hard for me, but in the end God knows best and I am trying to let my hair out and enjoy the ride!

I could not have done it though without the support of my husband, Jack, who at this moment is in making dinner so I can work on end of the year business. Our Board has been amazing!!! I cannot thank Rick, Debbie, Amy and Aileen enough for encouraging and pushing me this year! Julie and Amy did an amazing job on all the legal paperwork to get us into non profit land (which was my worst fear)!! And a thank you needs to be said to Alina and Cornelia in Romania for doing the day to day storing and distributing of supplies and loving on those precious babies!

Lastly, I cannot say how grateful I am for the donations that have come in this month! I have been overwhelmed with God's blessings through you with $820 coming in this past week alone! This leaves are budget in a comfortable position to start fundraising in the next few months for my early summer trip next year! Thank you all and God Bless!

In Him,


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Oradea Update

Hello Friends and Family,

   I left you several weeks ago without an update on the hospital in Oradea, but I have found it extremely challenging to keep up with almost any correspondence lately due to house renovations, babies heading off to school and a myriad of other duties! Please forgive me and I hope you enjoy hearing how the second week of my work trip went!

   Stepping into the Oradea Medical Clinic,as it is now called, is always a mixture of good and sad memories, a sense of belonging and an eagerness to love on the sweet babies there! We had several babies coming in and out while I was there and each were so unique and special! This trip I was able to assist Alina more and I loved it! Feeding, bathing, changing may seem most mundane; however, when combined with a song sung, tickles and eye to eye contact, I know these babies' little lives were touched. I so wish I could show you pictures of their little faces online of these babies, but confidentiality of the State forbids it.

   I was able to connect with one of my favorite doctors and see her new cardiology clinic, as well as see some of the nurses I have worked with for the past eleven years. Most of the hospital has been renovated, though the back staircases have been left untouched, cigarette smoke is still in the halls and the bottle nipples are still clipped to an unnaturally, large holes that the babies choke on, but the use of supplies has so changed the atmosphere and babies!

   Supply buying was interesting to say the least! We worked with two different stores to order bulk because we could not get all our supplies from one place. Now that individuals and non profits have restrictions from purchasing wholesalers, it takes a lot longer to find all the supplies. We managed to get most of what we needed and one store could even deliver to Sibiu for us. The rest I dragged my friend Paula with me from store to store trying to scrounge enough infant cereal, towels, hand soap, etc. She was a trouper and so was her little car!  

   Prices, of course, have increased so we were moderate in our purchasing and I hope that will get us through the year. With the increase in prices and the expansion of Project Hope for the Children we are looking for some more monthly supporters. People who are passionate about this ministry and what it offers- hope! I would love to see some first-time givers as well! We have so many of you who have given over and over and I love it and am so humbled by it, but I know also that there are many of you who have spoken of wanting to help in the past and have not been able to for various reasons. I promise you that your donation will be thoughtfully spent to help the lives we touch in Romania! 

  Donations could be anywhere from $5 to $50 a month, a lump sum or given every month, check or paypal. All would be a blessing as PHFTC reaches out it's hand to the poor and needy! Thank you for considering this. You can visit Paypal through our website and also read my latest Post at http://projecthopeforthechildren.blogspot.com/2014/09/a-mothers-heart.html Thank-you!

Ramona Petrella Cummings
Executive Director of PHFTC
6983 Chase Rd.
Fabius, NY 13063

A Mother's Heart

Recently, I sent my two babies off to Kindergarten. The emotions I felt the preceding weeks were different from anything I had ever felt before- pride, sorrow, accomplishment, worry, all blended into a feeling of heaviness of heart. My children love school and I enjoy seeing life through their eyes,, but I have pondered how many times in the future I will be burdened about a change or transition or decision in my little one's lives... Many I am sure.

While in Romania, I heard a tragic story. Not too many days have passed since that I have not thought about it and tears have not come to my eyes. There is a Roma gypsy woman in one of the villages that we shall call Maria. She works hard to care for her family. Her husband is a drunk and regularly beats and rapes her. They have 11 children and Maria has not abandoned one of them! She has no education and no means to support herself or resources to help like we have in the States. She cares for her children to the best of her ability, shelters them from their father's rages and takes the brunt of it many times. She has had to watch a daughter become a child mother and then to take on the responsibility of caring for those grandchildren, even though one is handicapped.

This woman's heart has been broken so many times and yet... she is courageous! This woman is a role model for me to trust in the Lord and persevere when my "trials" come. If you think of it, please take a moment to pray for Maria today in all she faces. I am so glad to have met Maria before and that Project Hope for the Children can be a small part of her life. After eleven years of ministry, I am still amazed at how God puts people and situations in our path to help and how I can learn from them. Thank you for your part in enabling PHFTC to help!


Monday, August 25, 2014

On to Sibiu

  Dear Friends,

   The Board at Project Hope for the Children and I have been so excited about an opportunity to expand and help even more children! earlier in the year we were asked if we could start helping a pediatric hospital in the city of Sibiu, Romania. We researched how that would look and the woman, Cornelia, that would be handling the distribution of the supplies. After sending down a small bath of supplies Cornelia approached the Nursing Director about something permanent.After a phone interview with Alina, the hospital invited us down for a full interview when I would be in the country.

   On Thursday, Alina and I started out early in the morning via train for Sibiu. It is an eight hour trip on cold war trains with filthy bathrooms~ needless to say it was not a comfortable trip. However, the countryside was lovely and when we reached the city of Sibiu, Alina and I were treated to a city filled with beauty!

   Friday morning we arrived the hospital around 10am for our interview and were very warmly greeted by Cornelia and the Director of Nurses, Carmen. God gave me the words (in Romanian) to introduce myself and the ministry and how he hoped to help the social babies. Alina was able to explain her job in Oradea and how we operated there. We stated that we wanted to help the whole child as much as possible. Not just with diapers and wipes, but with stimuli such as: music, color, pictures, baby gear and loveys for their cribs. Amazingly, Carmen readily agreed to anything we wanted to do!

   We will be supplying one ward for now and hope to increase next year to the full hospital next year. This one hospital would cost about $6,000 a year. Our hospital in Oradea costs over $6000 a year and some of the other foundations we help cost us between $1,000-2,000 a year. This does not include operating and travel expenses or Alina's salary. Please pray that more donations come in the next couple of months so that we can continue to cover everything!

  The babies were so sweet in Sibiu and I regret that I cannot post pictures of their adorable faces due to confidentiality, but I can show you some other pictures of our time there!

  Oradea Train Station                                          Pediatric Hospital of Sibiu

L-R  Cornelia, Alina, Carmen, Ramona       Cornelia, our liaison
        Enjoying the beauty of Sibiu

For more pictures of our trip you can find us on facebook 

Ali and I were so blessed by the warmth and excitement that the hospital showed us and we are excited at this new opportunity to serve the children of Sibiu! Thank you for your part in that!


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Visit to Tinca

One of the many places I went this year was to Tinca where Romanian Relief and Forget Me Not Ministries are located. I was able to see RR's Medical Clinic again this year where they give ultrasounds, medicines and counseling. PHFTC was able to donate about $500 worth of diapers to the children that they have in their group homes and foster care.

I also had the privilege of visiting Forget Me Not Ministries again! This year I was able to see the garden that the Roma's have planted under FMNM's supervision and was able to attend a Joy Beadz session. I have been selling the bracelets as a fundraiser for both of our ministries this year and it has been great for both our foundations! PHFTC was able to purchase about $500 in diapers and wipes for one of the projects FMNM has.
Here are some pictures from there!

Thank-you to Sarah, Lavinia, Rachel and Dave for your hospitality! Can't wait to see you next year!  ~Mona

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Only 5,000 Miles and Five Days Away!

The Baby Hospital in Oradea
 Dear Friends,

  I leave this coming Thursday at 7:30 pm for Romania! I am so excited and so blessed to be traveling over there again and for the outreach that Project Hope for the Children has! The first three images to your left are the hospitals we help put supplies in, whether on our own or in collaboration with another foundation, in Oradea.

Infectious Disease Hospital
  The image at the bottom of the page is the new hospital about 4 hours away that Alina and I will be having an interview at while I am there. We have already sent a small amount of supplies there and the trial went very well. Now the hospital is hoping we can do something permanent for their social babies, as do we! Please pray that all goes well with the interview!

The Tuberculosis Hospital
  Thanks to all of you who have donated in the past several months- I never take it for granted! However, I am still hoping for about $1,000 more to come in. With increasing needs and places asking for assistance, we will have no issues spending the money that has come in! Isn't that a great problem to have!

    If you have wanted to donate and haven't yet there is still time! You can donate on the website via our PayPal button or mail a check to Project Hope for the Children Inc., 6983 Chase Rd, Fabius NY 13063. I will be keeping you updated while away on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Hope-for-the-Children/146117805560061. If you haven't liked us already, now would                                                        be a great time to do that!
                                                                                              Many Blessings to you All,
the new hospital we hope to sign a contract with

Monday, June 30, 2014

Many Things Going On

The Latest at PHFTC

Hello Everyone!

  I know it has been a long time since I have done anything online including blogging, Facebook or emailing, but that does not mean that nothing has been done! On the contrary, things have been so busy on this end that I feel I now have a part time job!

    I am so very proud and excited to report that we are now Project Hope for the Children, Inc!We are still pending with the Federal Government, but we have five years to complete paperwork and fully stamped for approval! Our treasurer is working on the paperwork so I know it will not take that long, but for now we can act as a not for profit!

   We have set up a bank account and you can now donate directly to Project Hope for the Children!!!  Pompey Community Church is still working with us as we transition over the next couple of months so don't panic if you donate through them; we still have our accounts open with them. I am so thankful to God and everyone that has helped with making this possible!

   Another exciting thing to report is my upcoming trip to Romania! I was able to purchase tickets for around $1,600. I have never paid that much before so it was a bitter pill to swallow, but I am traveling alone this year so it essentially took up the price of what 2 tickets cost. 

   I leave July 31st and return August 15th. Please keep me in prayer as I my itinerary leaves very little room for delays. Also, Jack will remain behind with the children and work his day job and care for the kids with the help of our sweet sitter, Brittany! Thank-you Brittany!

   Another praise is that the owner of the apartment where we stayed last year is letting me stay for free this year! This is one less cost for the ministry! Thank-you Florian! 

  I am excited to see how our hospital is doing and hold those precious babies! Also, we just received permission today to interview and be introduced to a new hospital in Romania! We are very excited to have this opportunity to start a work in another hospital and care for the babies there! Please continue to pray that Alina and I have a good meeting in August with the hospital directors and we can set up something permanent there! 

   We still need a few more thousand dollars in donations in the next month to meet our budget! If you want to help this year, we would love to accept your donations! You can donate by sending acheck to Project Hope for the Children at 6983 Chase Rd, Fabius, NY 13063 or by going to http://www.projecthopeforthechildren.blogspot.com and giving through PayPal there.    I will be sending out a list of things we need to purchase for me to take over in the next email.

 Have a wonderful day!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lots of News!

Good Afternoon from Sunny NY!

  I just wanted to update you on what has been happening with the Ministry lately!

I am excited to report that we have submitted our corporation request to the State and are hoping to start operating as Project Hope for the Children soon! We will have a very busy Summer as we  do the necessary things to get us up and running while fundraising and speaking for this year's trip. And speaking of trips, I am excited to say that I will be returning in August for two weeks!

Along with that announcement come a couple of prayer requests. First, the ticket prices are astronomical! Double and Triple what I have ever seen!  I am looking at between $1600- $1800 round trip- and that does not cover all the transportation expenses involved! Please pray that I can find a good itinerary for a reasonable price!

This year I believe I will be flying solo. This has not happened in over 5 years and I know I will miss my babies dearly( and enjoy some refreshment alone). Please pray for Jack, Katie, Andrew and Babysitter Brittany while I am gone!

And lastly, please pray for the funding to all come in! We have had some requests for more supplies and are venturing into another hospital. This Spring is an experiment to see how it goes but by Fall we well might be supporting another baby ward. Last year we also contributed to two excellent ministries run by friends that are doing fantastic work in the town of Tinca and I would love to bless them again this year if possible! We need to raise about $10,000 in the next few months to cover the budget for the entire year!

 If you have never, ever given to PHFTC before and think that this is a great ministry, please consider giving this month! I cannot imagine how much would come in if everyone who has never given would donate just $10 to PHFTC! We could come close to covering the budget needs and could aid so many people! I love our faithful givers and am so encouraged by them, but I know there are so many of you who support this Ministry and would like to take the next step by giving a gift of $10 or more. Please consider!

 You can donate through PayPal via our website:
 http://www.projecthopeforthechildren.blogspot.com or you can send a check to 6983 Chase Rd, Fabius, NY 13063. Make the check out to Pompey Community Church; Memo Line - Project Hope for the Children. A tax receipt and thank you will be sent at the end of the year:)

Many Blessings,

   Ramona Petrella Cummings

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Help Wanted

We all have several gifts and talents that God has given us that bring us and others pleasure and sometimes even bring in an income! I have some too, however, I seem to be lacking in the tech area. Computers are frustrating to me, though I enjoy the benefit of them sometimes.

In short, PHFTC needs someone who will volunteer their time to help me update things for our growing Ministry. This special person would need to have knowledge of Blogs, Websites, Mail Chimp, Social Media and Marketing would be a huge plus! I enjoy learning, but find that I have a hard time teaching myself and fitting that in with my family life.

If any of you would be interested in helping PHFTC out in this way please call or text me at 607-591-1065 or email me at ramonasmail2002@yahoo.com.



Friday, April 4, 2014

Fundraiser Success!

Hello Everyone!

  I have an exciting update about our 11 on 11 Fundraiser in March! We had 11 people either donate or commit to donate to the Ministry! In total we raised $1,134! What a success! I want to give a big thank-you to Jeff, Mike, Kelli, FCC Mission Group, Thomas, Kevin, Sid and Belinda, Clara, Heather, Charles and Gloria, and Steve and Amy.

Just recently PHFTC has been asked to send supplies to another pediatric hospital in Romania. I am excited to think that we have the money to branch out like this and help the babies in a hospital that resembles 2003 conditions! The babies have nothing and what does come in gets stolen from them! Please pray that we might be able to permanently expand to this hospital and help make a difference. I am hoping to visit these babies in August if possible!

I am starting to schedule my fundraising/speaking schedule so if anyone knows of a church, civic organization or group that might be interested in having me speak please pass on my information to them! You can check out schedule page on the website to see where I'll be! 

Also, for you Face Book users please consider liking our PHFTC page so your friends can check us out! It is a simple, easy and effective way for a non profit to get advertising~ Thanks! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Project-Hope-for-the-Children/146117805560061?ref=hl

Have a wonderful day!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Snapshots of Memories

It's the 22nd of March and that day has special meaning to me because that was the date I first entered Romania! Indelible snapshots are still imprinted in my mind of the people and places that were so new and strange to me. Has something or someone ever completely changed your life? You could not imagine your life without that particular event or person?

My time in Romania was that type of time for me. It was like I had been preparing my whole life for something and each day that I spent in that country I felt like I was given the smallest peak into my life as it was meant to be. Working with babies in the hospital has given me such joy and I want thank all of you for having joined me in this life passion!

Project 11 on 11 only needs 5 more people to give in any way. Just $11 donation, $11 once a month for a year or $11 for each member of your household in way, shape or form! Checks can be made out to PCC, 6983 Chase Rd, Fabius, NY 13063 or you can go to www.projecthopeforthechildren.blogspot.com  and click on the PayPal button.

Please enjoy some of my life's snapshots and again thank-you for allowing this Ministry to operate and help people!

From the Heart,


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Update !

Hello Everyone!

 I promised you a couple of weeks ago that I would bring you up to speed on things that have been happening with PHFTC! Life has been hectic so I am just getting around to writing this and am thrilled to share!

I have been deeply blessed by my Board Members- Aileen, Rick, Amy, and Debbi! We have been busy setting up a budget, writing our bi-laws and making decisions. One of our biggest decisions  has been to set up a 501c3 for Project Hope for the Children! This has been a step that I have contemplated many times, but have felt too overwhelmed to do on my own. With the help of our Treasurer/CPA and Julie, our attorney we are going to proceed! Please pray that this next step goes smoothly as we transition from being under PCC to our own non-profit. Stay tuned for me on this!

March has kicked off our 2014 Fundraising and Project 11 on 11 is still going on! We have had a good start with 3 people promising $11 a month for a year. Another person donated $100 and one of my churches chose PHFTC to donate over $480! Still looking for at least 7 more people to join in this month! You can donate from anywhere in the world by clicking on the PayPal button on the Homepage on our website or mailing a check to PCC, 6983 Chase Rd. Fabius, NY 13063 -Memo line Project Hope for the Children.

Some more exciting news is that we have been asked by a nurse in another pediatric hospital in Romania to donate diapers and wipes so she can help the abandoned babies warehoused there. This hospital is just like ours was 10 years ago. The babies are languishing with no diapers, wipes, baths, decent food or clothes. The hospital does not even have water some days. We are going to have several boxes of diapers and a few of wipes sent to her and see how the arrangement works. In the summer, I am hoping to gain permission to enter this hospital and see what else can be done for these little ones!

And lastly, I have a prayer request for you all. Many of you know that I was in a car accident a year and half ago. I injured my left knee and neck. I am still suffering pain, stiffness and many sleepless nights from this. I have had many different types of treatments and nothing seems to give me long-lasting relief. My knee could be permanent and we are waiting on the insurance company to give permission for a pain therapy treatment on my neck. All this to say, that I am tiring of the pain, fatigue and limitations this has put on my family and myself! Please pray for total healing so I can function normally again! Thank-you!

Please remember to LIKE us on FaceBook and spread the word about PHFTC

Many Blessings!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fundraising 2014

For those of you who know me, you know I like numbers and how things relate to a certain number! I am very excited about a fundraiser that I am going to offer! This is going to be a great way to kick off our 2014 Fundraising Season! Please consider joining in to support our babies this year!

Today is the 11th of March and 11 years ago in March I flew over to Romania to live! That is when I Project Hope was founded in my heart and funding the abandoned babies with supplies started! I would like to propose three donating options for your consideration.

During the month of March if you would:

   Give a one time donation of $11 to PHFTC

   Give a one time donation of $11 for every member of your household (Pets included:)

   Give a monthly donation of $11 from you or your family. ( Every month or a lump sum amount is fine)

Eleven dollars will buy several packages of wipes, several bottles of shampoo and soap or 1/2 pack of diapers!

If 11 of you give $11 then we would have $121 for supplies; if 111 of you gave then we would $1221 and we could keep going... We need to raise at least $10,000 for this year's budget! Get your families, your churches and even groups involved if you want and lets see how much we collect for Project 11 on 11!

You can donate using our PayPal button on our home page on the website or you can send cash or checks made out to Pompey Community Church. Memo line- Project Hope for the Children. Mail to 6983 Chase Rd, Fabius, NY 13063.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Great Article!

This article explains so well what is happening to the children in Romania! It also shows how important PHFTC is even when it seems small! If you want to join in and help, please check out our donate page and share this blog with your friends! ~Mona

For Romania's Orphans, Adoption Is Still A Rarity

A disabled and orphaned Romanian child in his bed at the Targu Jiu orphanage in southwestern Romania in 2009. Romania has, in general, improved conditions in orphanages that provoked outrage when they were exposed internationally nearly a quarter-century ago. However, some 70,000 kids are still in the care of the state.i i

hide captionA disabled and orphaned Romanian child in his bed at the Targu Jiu orphanage in southwestern Romania in 2009. Romania has, in general, improved conditions in orphanages that provoked outrage when they were exposed internationally nearly a quarter-century ago. However, some 70,000 kids are still in the care of the state.
Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images
A disabled and orphaned Romanian child in his bed at the Targu Jiu orphanage in southwestern Romania in 2009. Romania has, in general, improved conditions in orphanages that provoked outrage when they were exposed internationally nearly a quarter-century ago. However, some 70,000 kids are still in the care of the state.

A disabled and orphaned Romanian child in his bed at the Targu Jiu orphanage in southwestern Romania in 2009. Romania has, in general, improved conditions in orphanages that provoked outrage when they were exposed internationally nearly a quarter-century ago. However, some 70,000 kids are still in the care of the state.
Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images
First of two stories
The 1989 overthrow and execution of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu provided the first glimpse of a country that had been mostly closed to the outside world — and many of the scenes were appalling.
Among the most disturbing were images of tens of thousands of abandoned children suffering abuse and neglect in Romania's orphanages. Many were confined to cribs, wallowing in their own filth and facing mental health issues.
There was outrage in the West. Foreign charities came in to help. Europeans and Americans adopted thousands of children.
Nearly a quarter-century later, the fate of Romania's abandoned children is an unresolved issue. While the orphanages, in general, have improved, the number of children in state care — more than 70,000 — is nearly the same as it was in 1989. Many in the field say there are tens of thousands more on the streets who are not being counted.
Romania remains a relatively poor country, and the legacy of Ceausescu's policies has not been completely erased.
Complicated Laws
Romania's adoption laws are complex and are seen as one of several reasons there are relatively few adoptions domestically. Annually, between 700 and 900 children are adopted of the 1,200 to 1,400 considered adoptable. Foreign adoptions, which were common during the 1990s, were halted a decade ago.
Under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, handicapped and orphaned children were neglected, unbathed and malnourished in orphanages throughout the country. This photo shows orphans at a state institution in Grandinari, Romania in 1989, the year Ceaucescu was overthrown and killed.ii

hide captionUnder Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, handicapped and orphaned children were neglected, unbathed and malnourished in orphanages throughout the country. This photo shows orphans at a state institution in Grandinari, Romania in 1989, the year Ceaucescu was overthrown and killed.
Isabel Ellsen/Corbis
Under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, handicapped and orphaned children were neglected, unbathed and malnourished in orphanages throughout the country. This photo shows orphans at a state institution in Grandinari, Romania in 1989, the year Ceaucescu was overthrown and killed.

Under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, handicapped and orphaned children were neglected, unbathed and malnourished in orphanages throughout the country. This photo shows orphans at a state institution in Grandinari, Romania in 1989, the year Ceaucescu was overthrown and killed.
Isabel Ellsen/Corbis
A revision of Romania's adoption law, which went into effect in April, aims to make more children eligible for adoption and more quickly. But many involved in child protection doubt that the new law alone will significantly improve the lives of these abandoned kids.
Bogdan Panait, head of Romania's Office for Adoptions, says he hopes the new law can bump the number of children considered adoptable to 2,000. But this number would still be less than 3 percent of the children in state care and less than 9 percent of those residing in non-family situations.
"It's not a system for children's rights. It's a system for parents' rights," says Bogdan Simion, executive director of SERA Romania, a nonprofit foundation that is one of the largest financial contributors to Romania's child welfare system.
Consider the case of Tatiana. She spent two years in a baby ward at a Romanian hospital because she had no birth certificate, her caregivers say. But the law states a birth certificate should be issued within 45 days, even if it means listing the mother and father as "unknown."
In Romania, to be considered "adoptable," a child's biological parents must be deceased or indicate that they have no interest in having a relationship with the child. But beyond this, all relatives as distant as siblings of grandparents also must sign away rights to the child. The aim to reintegrate a child into his biological family, for better or worse, is considered the ultimate goal.
Defining Relationships
The biggest change in the new law is a child's eligibility for adoption should be considered after a year without a parental relationship.
But what a "relationship" is, exactly, is unclear. How frequent must contact be to constitute a relationship?
"As often as possible," says Ramona Popa, ROA's cabinet director. "It depends. There are possibilities because sometimes it is very hard for them to come."
Romanian orphanages were routinely overcrowded and children often lacked toys, as was the case at Bucharest's Number One Orphanage in 1991. A new law should make adoptions a bit easier. However, adoptions remain relatively rare.ii

hide captionRomanian orphanages were routinely overcrowded and children often lacked toys, as was the case at Bucharest's Number One Orphanage in 1991. A new law should make adoptions a bit easier. However, adoptions remain relatively rare.
Siumui Chan/AP
Romanian orphanages were routinely overcrowded and children often lacked toys, as was the case at Bucharest's Number One Orphanage in 1991. A new law should make adoptions a bit easier. However, adoptions remain relatively rare.

Romanian orphanages were routinely overcrowded and children often lacked toys, as was the case at Bucharest's Number One Orphanage in 1991. A new law should make adoptions a bit easier. However, adoptions remain relatively rare.
Siumui Chan/AP
Many children now linger in the system because their mothers express interest by stopping by once a year.
Mothers have the option of leaving their newborns at the hospital when they go home. They do not have to give up the rights to the child at this point –- or ever. Some kids are lucky enough to get moved into foster care, which is required prior to adoption eligibility. Others remain at the hospital until they are 2, and are then moved to orphanages.
One foster mother living in Eastern Romania says she considers the two children she fosters her own. But she's unlikely to adopt them. She worries what would happen if she brought the idea up to the children's mother at this point. She's afraid the mother, an alcoholic and victim of domestic violence, would block the adoption and, possibly, take the kids back.
"It's a hard situation because they are not legally adopted," says the foster mother's biological daughter, Cristina. "But they are so much a part of my family. But they are not legally abandoned and they are not adopted either."
For Panait, there are many challenges. Any new approach not only requires the buy-in of a separate-but-intertwined child welfare system – but also relies on changing the minds of a people.
"This is a first step," he says of the revised law. "We are trying, after we are finalizing this first step, to find a solution for all the children. And after we will try all the possibilities. Probably we will have to find other solutions."
Ceausescu's Legacy
Many of the problems today can still be traced back to Ceausescu. When he came to power in the mid-1960s, he aimed to create a race of Romanian worker bees. He instructed all women to have at least five children, and outlawed abortion and birth control.
But many parents couldn't afford to feed and clothe families of seven or more, and children were abandoned in the thousands each year and the state orphanage system grew.
Many thought the state would be able to do a better job of taking care of their kids than they could. And this mentality, especially among the poor, remains today.
Most of those who apply to adopt children are couples who have been unable to have children on their own. Yet few Romanian couples are open to adopting children with disabilities or those of Roma descent.
Meanwhile, studies by the U.S.-funded Bucharest Early Intervention Project and other groups show that mental, physical and emotional issues that result from living in a non-family setting, such as anxiety and attachment disorders, have a much better chance of reversal if the child moves into a family setting before they turn 2.
But within the current structure, it's difficult to get children into the arms of a couple before this small window of opportunity slips away.
Tatiana, the 2-year-old toddler left at a Romanian hospital, was lucky enough to form an attachment to a caregiver who took a special interest in her.
"To get to adoptability you will need a period of 18 months, which is huge. For the child this is huge. For the small child it is huge," Simion says. "It touches the very soul of its brain development. So this has to stop."
Meghan Collins Sullivan is a former supervising editor at NPR. Her reporting in Romania is supported in part by a Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Every Person has a Story....


As I gazed at the young girl bending over the crib and smiling at her baby, I struggled with emotions. Yesterday, I had been angry and incredulous that someone could abandon her baby at the hospital where there was so little comfort or concern given. Now as I watched this teenage girl smiling at her baby, I wondered if I had been too harsh.

I continued to watch the girl struggle to feed her baby. She precariously held a spoon of potatoes over her prone baby and attempted to get the food into the baby's mouth without it falling onto the bed or choking the baby. She was trying... but had no idea how to care for her little blessing. I tentatively walked over to her, braving the stench that rose from her body and offered her a smile. I asked if  I could feed another baby with her and set about modeling to her how I fed my baby. She watched me carefully as I propped my baby up and fed her with the spoon. She smiled and copied me. I chatted to her with my limited Romanian and she did so with hers.

 I remember showing her how to clean her baby up after feeding and changing his diaper. She smiled appreciatively for the tips and for the courtesy that I was extending to a gypsy- something that rarely happens in the country. We forged a bond that day and when I explained to her later that the only reason her baby had diapers, wipes and cereal was because my ministry was providing it, concern rose in her eyes! You see, she thought that her baby would be better cared for in a state run, Romanian hospital than in her village. Sometimes that is true, but in this case, it was not. This young teenage girl made an adult decision and took her baby home that day.

And I learned something that day, as well. Every person has a story and it shapes their decisions. Sometimes those decisions are based out of selfishness, but sometimes they aren't. It might not look smart, loving or selfless to us outsiders, but not knowing the story we cannot not judge. When a woman leaves her child at the maternity hospital hours after birth it could just be that there is a physically and sexually abusive husband at home and she desperately wants to keep this baby safe. And when she makes this decision, it becomes our responsibility to care for that baby and love on her and keep her safe.

Thank-you for the part you have in that in supporting this Ministry!

~from the Heart~ Mona