We are delighted to include this Blog from Vadim, a wonderful supporter living in Ukraine.

Although we rather don't talk about it, here in Ukraine babies are still being abandoned and children grow up without parental care. In fact, it's still very common. And the worst part of it all, often the information shared about children without parental care ("orphans") causes these babies and children not to receive the support they don't just require, but truly deserve.

According to most sources, over 60% of all Ukrainian children without parental care ("orphans") will end up in prostitution or organised crime, with around 20% as adults spending time in prison. In reality, somewhere in the region of 70% to 95% of those in care are not orphans at all; an orphan by Ukrainian and Russian terminology being a child who lost both parents. Many have one parent alive, but for various reasons are not in their care, these often referred to by professionals as “half-orphans”.

That most children without parental care aren't orphans seems to be true, seeing as less than 10% of Ukraine's children without parental care are able to be adopted, and children without parental care are (usually) not able to be adopted when at least one parent is still alive, and there's a possibility of return somewhere in the future. (Something which far too often doesn't actually happen...) However, the rest of those numbers I would rather call estimates than anything else.

That being said, most people see these numbers as cold-hard facts, and therefore are unwilling to support children without parental care ("orphans") here in Ukraine. As when they just end up in prostitution, crime, and/or prison, why would you choose to support them?

abandoned baby

Still, there is another side of the story. The side where these children are supported and end up being competent participating members of our society. And I'm not just saying this, as I actually am one of them myself. While today, I'm able to write this guest blog post for ChildAid, work at a daycare centre, and my life is at all aspects on track, I still come from the childhood you would wish upon no child. Abandoned as a baby, and growing up orphaned in a children's home in Donetsk, which eventually became war-torn, I didn't have anything of what I have today. It only changed because of the love and hope a sponsor previously gave me, and afterwards my parents by adopting me.

Hope and love, 2 often underestimated aspects of our lives, but actually truly life-changing. That's the part where it often goes wrong for children without parental care.

Speaking from my own experiences, I can tell you that when you lack love and hope, when you believe no one cares, you are able to do the most unexpected acts. Stealing and doing drugs undeniably being the most common acts, which I personally know of. Petty crime, as most would call it. However, that's not the way you look at it, not when you're in the situation, and not when you're out of it. When you're in the situation, you think it is what society deserves for not caring, for acting with disrespect to you, and in all regards being unfair to you. However, when you grow up, you look at it at as a major crime, something you should never have done, and basically the worst of mistakes. In fact, even today I actually look at my past with sadness, disgrace and regret.

On the other hand, when you do receive love and hope, the world opens up to you.

I still remember when that moment happened for me. In early 2015, shortly after being moved out of the war zone in Eastern Ukraine, a sponsor had paid for my care, and I finally received the psychological care I needed, as I had developed PTSD by then. It's undeniable I was broken by then, but not beyond repair. As time moved forward, piece by piece I was put back together, so to speak. Which continued as I was adopted later in 2015 by my parents, and was actually moved beyond the borders of Ukraine. First to Germany, then to Russia, only to end up back in Ukraine later on. The sponsorship ended when I got adopted, but my parents continued to pay for the care.

If it wasn't for the love and hope of that sponsor and my parents, I wouldn't ever have arrived where I am today.

And it's not like I will ever forget about the blessings I received. I have actually met up with my sponsor back in 2017, after quite a bit of struggles to even make it happen, and I still remain in contact with him today. It may have been a short time to some, but that short time of sponsorship he offered me has changed my life.

This is also exactly why I'm supporting ChildAid and its partners. As while by the numbers shared it may seem like there is no hope for a better future, there most certainly is, and I know that from my own start of life. Through the donations to ChildAid, here in Ukraine there are babies, children, young persons and full families who are able to turn their despair to hope, and move forward to the life we all deserve.

Guest Blog : Vadim, SnowCalmth

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