In 2009, the government in Kyrgyzstan brought intercountry adoptions to a sudden halt. 65 children who were in the process of being adopted by American families were stranded in orphanages, waiting to leave with their families. Over the past five years, the families of the “Kyrgyz 65” have formed incredible bonds as together they faced a long and hard journey to bring their children home. This month, many of the remaining children are finally united with their families, and more children will be coming home this fall.
During the wait, single adoptive mom Suzanne Boutilier created the fundraiser Kwyltyng to Kyrgyzstan featuring “kwylts” (quilts) made by some of the Kyrgyz 65 mothers and their friends. The fundraiser helped Suzanne and the other families fund their adoptions through the lengthy and expensive process. Suzanne has now returned from Kyrgyzstan with her daughter, thanks in part to the support of the Kwyltyng to Kyrgyzstan community. Adoptive mother Pamela Allen, who has also been united with her daughter, made a kwylt called “The Wishing Tree” to capture their journey.
My kwylt is called "The Wishing Tree." It tells the story of the adoption journey that I traveled along with 64 other American families. To say it was a difficult road – is still a difficult road – is an understatement. But, it reflects the commitment that we made to ensure that vulnerable children have families to call their own.
I started my journey to adopt a child from Kyrgyzstan in 2007. By October 2008, I had been matched with a little girl. I thought that I would soon be travelling to bring her home, but instead, adoptions abruptly shut down in February of 2009.
Our families became known as the Kyrgyz 65 and we banded together around a concept called “The Wishing Tree.” In Kyrgyzstan, people tie ribbons on trees for wishes or prayers. I had a Wishing Tree in my front yard – others had them, too. Year after year we would tie ribbons for each of the children who were languishing in orphanages. The Wishing Tree helped to keep us connected. It helped keep us strong in the midst of the unknown.
We waited. And, we didn’t give up.
During the wait, two precious children died. Their deaths were avoidable, but we were helpless to intervene. Those two little girls are forever engraved on our hearts.
Adoptions finally reopened in 2012. Within days, I found out along with about a dozen other families that the children with whom we were matched were no longer available for adoption. Receiving that news after four years of waiting crushed my heart. However, with God's good grace and divine mercy, I learned about another little girl, Anarkul, who needed a family. It was a true miracle when she came home in the summer of 2012 and joined our family. Eight other children also joined their families that summer.
But so many didn’t. So many children still wait. And, their families have not given up.
This kwylt was made in honor and memory of ALL of these children – those who died, those who we lost, those who still wait, and those who came home. Since 2008, two more children have been added to this list – 67 children, in total.
Each child is represented on this kwylt by a ribbon. And, each ribbon is frayed on the ends from the effects of institutionalization. When you look at “The Wishing Tree” quilt, please remember Altynai and Alina, the precious little girls who died and left this world without a family (they are the white ribbons buried under the ground), the children who we lost or who are still waiting (they are the red ribbons in the tree), and the nine children who were united with their families in 2012 (they are the green ribbons growing abundantly from the nurturing they receive every day).
The Travels of “The Wishing Tree” Quilt
One of the Kyrgyz 65 families won "The Wishing Tree" quilt in the fundraising raffle. Before the quilt heads to its permanent home, it will go tour the office of several adoption and children’s welfare organizations. National Council For Adoption is proud to display the quilt in our office this month. If you’re in Alexandria, VA, feel free to stop by our office to view it!
The “Kwyltyng to Kyrgyzstan” fundraiser is now closed. To view photos of the kwylts included in the raffle, visit the event’s Facebook page.