Sunday, January 13, 2008
Changing the World One Child at a Time
In 1995, Christopher and Barbara (Mikulski) Hoar wanted to adopt a child. Because they were over 40, they were encouraged to pursue an international adoption. Barbara was fluent in the Polish language and had relatives in Poland so they became determined to adopt a Polish child. The road was anything but easy.
They visited Poland in 1997 and were approved for international adoption, but this was only the beginning. When they returned to America, the Hoars attempted to make contact with anyone knowledgeable in Polish adoption, including several orders of women religious. The Little Servant Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculate Conception, came through with a brother and sister who were waiting to be adopted. On Mother’s Day 1998, the Hoars finally got to meet their children. They spent two weeks in Poland, getting to know the children as well as many other children who were also waiting to be adopted. While their own adoption was finalized in August 1998, they felt called to do something to help these other children left behind.
Early in their own adoption process, the Hoars had met with Rev. Michael Boland, administrator of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The organization had just committed to the creation of an International Adoption Program. When the Hoars approached Fr. Boland with their desire to help these Polish children, he invited them to work with Catholic Charities of Chicago.
Mrs. Elόbieta Podczazka, Director of the Public Office of Adoption and Care in Poland, came to meet with Fr. Boland. She emphasized that her office tried to place children in Poland. Only when that option was exhausted would her office look to international adoption. Even then, the first choice would be Christian families of Polish descent who would be able to help the children maintain their Polish heritage. The Hoars and Catholic Charities continued to work together to develop a Polish adoption program.
Out of this experience, Christopher and Barbara began Caritas for Children, Inc. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Caritas promotes, encourages, and provides support and financial assistance for the health, education, and general welfare of orphaned and disadvantaged children through the services of Catholic religious communities. Sadly, there are millions of orphaned, abandoned, and impoverished children in the world, most of whom will never be adopted. Caritas began a sponsorship program to help these children have their basic needs met and obtain an education. Caritas works with religious missionaries throughout the world to provide these services. These missionaries provide a unique service and perspective. They speak the language and are already well respected in the communities they serve. Many have first-hand experience of growing up in the same poor conditions.
The sponsorship program does not seek to provide purely monetary support. While that is obviously incredibly important, Caritas also seeks to provide a human connection between donor and recipient. The very name Caritas means love. Chris states, “In the relationships created by a Caritas sponsorship, families will come to know their child or children. We encourage the connection of the heart and know that financial support will follow. When a child knows that someone cares about them to help with education, food, and water . . . delivered in a program that is created to build their community and share the Gospel . . . they have hope for this life and eternity.”
To find out more about Caritas and how you can help, visit http://www.caritas.us.