Beauty Revived has joined with Adoption.com to bring you the 50 Most Inspiring Adoption Stories. We have found 50 amazing photographers with big hearts to donate a session to tell the story of an inspiring adoption story in their community.

Want to learn more about Beauty Revived and see the rest of the pictures? Check it out here and on Instagram.

Photography for this session by Rita Jana Photography Website

Lyon2015-5635-2If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Standing in a courtroom halfway across the world, in a country I had never even imagined visiting, I stood in front of a Ukrainian judge. My husband was back in the U.S., preparing for an unexpected deployment to Afghanistan. As an army family for the previous seven years before this moment, we were used to doing things the hard way. This would be no exception.

Why? The judge asked, his brow furrowed in honest disbelief. Why this child? You have four healthy children, why not just have another? You can have more children, can’t you?

How does a person answer a question like that?

Why this child?

What he meant was why a child with a disability. Why a child so far past the snuggling infant or cherubic toddler stage. Why a child who had spent her lifetime in institutional care, raised by the whims of often verbally and physically abusive “nannies” alongside a large group of children who were similarly forgotten by the world. A child whose worth was not measurable because, in fact, it had been forgotten as well.

Valerie2015-0369-L-c-cropWhy this child?

How will she know she’s beautiful, if no one ever tells her?
How will she know she’s so smart, if no one gives her the chance to learn?
How will she learn to love, if no one ever shows her what love means?
How will she realize she is incredibly resilient and brave, if she never has a life beyond the four walls of her institution?

For five and a half years her orphan status and her physical disability defined her, and would have put the entire course of her life on a tragic trajectory. She was considered “undesirable” for adoption in her home country, and probably mentally impaired, all because she walks with a limp due to prematurity at birth and her resulting cerebral palsy. She would never receive proper treatment for this condition. She would never have been allowed to go to school. She would never be allowed to live independently. She would, as a matter of fact, between the age of 6 to 8 years old, be sent away from the orphanage to a mental institution to live out her days on earth.

Why this child?

I wanted to say….
Have you seen the light in her eyes?
Have you heard her contagious laugh?
Have you watched her iron will to get up again and again and again? Every time she falls over those little legs that just won’t cooperate . . . and yet she gets up with a smile?
Have you held her hand and seen the fear and worry, the weight of the world on her tiny shoulders, finally start to melt away?

Because her Mama and Papa had come for her. Because she was worth the journey. Because she was worth just as much as our four biological children back home. Because she was worth whatever it would take to give her a real chance at living. Because, for once in her young life, someone felt she was worth something at all.

If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?

Valerie2015-0251-cropThe first time we met she chastised us directly. “I’ve been asking and asking for you, when would you come?!” Her sincerity and intensity in that moment is something I will never forget. It is something I know so many lonely children all over the world are still praying, wishing, and dreaming to say to someone, someday.

We can’t change the world, unless we start somewhere. In March of 2012, this once-all-alone little girl became an American citizen with a home, siblings, a mom and dad. A family, to fight for her and beside her, through whatever else comes our way. Two weeks later her Dad left for eight months in Afghanistan. She had, officially, joined the ranks of Army Brat.

The last three years have been a battle for our entire family to help her overcome the past, and I know it is the fear of these battles that keep so many from stepping forward. But I want you to know we are not exceptional parents or extraordinary people. The truth is it will be a difficult journey and I can’t promise rainbows and all happy endings, because children from hard beginnings will have to fight the rest of their lives for many things most of us take for granted. All we can do is make sure one more child isn’t fighting all alone. Every child should have the chance to laugh, grow, and learn in love. To be able to say, without a shadow of a doubt, “This is my family. I belong.”

Why this child? Because everyone deserves to be worth it all to someone.

Valerie2015-0273-1-crop