Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. - Matthew 25:40
Sloan and Gina Rolando are a couple who have tried to never ignore a calling. Sloan was called to the ministry and then to marriage and fatherhood. Gina always wanted a big family, and has been ever watchful for ways to serve. She recalls that they first considered adoption in the early years of their marriage. Conceiving their first child proved to be difficult, and they both immediately opened their minds to the possibility of adoption. The Lord’s plan for them was ever-changing, however, as first Kira, then Gregory, and then Lucy and Clare were born into their family! The work of the church remained a focus for them as Sloan completed his seminary training, was ordained as a priest in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and accepted a calling to a parish in Goshen, Indiana. Despite the fact that they were blessed with a large family, the thought of adoption was always present. Gina and Sloan knew that God would make it known to them when the time was right. They understood that this blessing, as all things, would come in God’s time, not theirs.
Three years ago, Gina and Sloan were inspired by friends who were hosting an orphan in their home through Project 143. This organization connects orphans from Ukraine, Latvia, and Kazakhstan with “host families” in the U.S. The idea of hosting was new to the Rolando’s, but they realized this might be a way for them to serve orphan children. Although hosting is an amazing way to advocate for orphans, with or without the intention to adopt, Gina admits, “Adoption was on our minds and in our hearts from the beginning. The adoption calling was blossoming anew! With the cooperation of their four children, they knew that reaching out to another child across the ocean was exactly what they could do to fulfill the call.
“The day we were looking at the profile pictures of host children, the girls were crowded around me. They all pointed to Dasha at the same time and said, ‘Her!’ With Sloan’s blessing, I called P143 the next day.”
Things just fell into place after that. About three months later, the Rolandos all went to the airport to meet Dasha, a tiny teenage girl with dark brown eyes and long, dark hair. She spoke no English other than “please,” and “thank you!” Regardless, within 48 hours, it was clear that she was a perfect fit for the Rolando household! In spite of the language barrier, the kids were finding ways to communicate, playing games and doing craft projects. Before long, they were all smiling and laughing.
Dasha smiles a lot, and is very active and silly. She is strong and self-sufficient, and was determined to help her new sisters and brother whenever Gina assigned them chores. Gina believes strongly that Dasha does not want to be perceived as vulnerable.
She is vulnerable, though. At 13, she is at risk for a number of reasons. With no known living family and no real job skills, affordable housing, decent food and healthcare will probably be out of reach for her once she leaves the orphanage at age sixteen. Her diminutive size and beautiful face put her further at risk, once she is released. Here are the facts:
Each day, 38,493 orphans “age out” of the orphanage system (at age sixteen)
Studies have shown that 10%-15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age eighteen
Within three years of ageing out, 5,000 will be unemployed, 6,000 will be homeless, and 3,000 will be in prison
60% of girls in Dasha’s situation eventually turn to prostitution for survival
Dasha is intelligent, kind, funny, and talented. She is a dancer and a tumbler, having participated in a dance group at her school. Gina laughs, recalling that Dasha was good at everything she tried while visiting over Christmas. With her host family, she went rollerblading, to a gymnastics open gym, ice skating, and trampolining. How amazing will it be for her to become fluent in English, attend school, and, for the first time in her life, dream of a happy, productive future in which she is part of a family -- loved unconditionally? Gina and Sloan can keep her safe from the horrors of homelessness, poverty, crime, and prostitution that threaten every orphan released at the tender age of sixteen.
One may think...there are so many orphans. What difference does it make to help one girl? But to that one girl, it means the world! Furthermore, when we advocate for orphans, God participates fully with us because He is “...a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” - Psalm 68.
As Christians, we are charged to, “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” - Psalm 82
The great news is this: even if you are not called to adopt, you can be a part of this work too: through your prayers and emotional support, help with fundraisers, and through monetary donations! Not everyone is called to do God's work in the same way. One of Gina’s mentors at P143, said this: “If you are curious as to what your purpose is here on earth, look at your past, your hurts, and use them to help someone else...this is where the healing begins." -Daron Northrup, adoptive mother and P143 volunteer
Sloan and Gina expect adoption costs to be between $25,000-$30,000 with additional costs afterwards due to particular healthcare needs, educational costs, and counseling. If you are moved to help them in this work, thank you very much! Let’s make this happen for Dasha! Let’s bring her home and give Gina and Sloan the chance to love her as they love Kira, Greg, Lucy, and Clare!
Thank you for reading their story and thank you for your help and prayers!
DonationsSee top donations
- Nancy Novachenko and Fred
- Parishioners Of Holy Trinity, Goshen, IN
- Oryhon Family
- Mark & Olena Therrien
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