A Home for Ania
Examiner, The (Independence - Blues Springs - Grain Valley, MO)
Author: Robert Hite
Mark White thought he would to go Poland, teach English to children and feel like he had done a good deed for the world. Simple.
But his commitment went much further than he expected.
White, 47, and his wife, Nancy, 48, are now trying to adopt one of the orphans Mark met in Poland, even giving up one of their precious horses in the effort.
Ania, 7, does not speak a word of English. Her home is a 19th century castle, where she lives with other orphans. She does not know the Whites are trying to adopt her, but she knows Mark.
Mark, an environmental risk manager for Missouri, went to Poland for the first time in April. He met Ania while helping build a playground.
This is one of the photos of Ania on a playground in Poland from a missionary friend. It was among the first photos the Whites saw of her almost a year ago. The photos inspired them to propose a new playground for the the children's home and eventually led to their decision to attempt to adopt Ania.
"She stole my heart," he said. "I just fell in love with the country and the people there."
After they met, Ania asked through an interpreter if she could ride on Mark's shoulders. That is where she spent the afternoon.
After returning from the nine-day trip, he thought about her, talked about her and cried when he heard songs on the radio that reminded him of her. He went back again in October, and started the adoption paper work in January. He plans to return to Poland in March or April, finalize plans for the playground and meet Ania again.
Nancy White, a library secretary at Lee's Summit West High School, at first did not share her husband's enthusiasm about adopting Ania. Their grown children, Andrew, 22, and Megan, 18, are out of their three-bedroom Lee's Summit home.
"A lot of people were praying for us," she said. "God needed to change my mind or Mark's mind, and He changed mine."
They talked to social workers who assured her that Ania's inability to speak English is not a significant problem. They are researching the major adjustments Ania might have to make.
Paul Beaver/The Examiner
Mark and Nancy White play with Dory, their 2-year-old paint. Ania, a 7-year-old girl Mark met at the Polish orphanage, talks about her love for horses.
"I just woke up one day and was fine with it," Nancy White said about the adoption.
Mark said representatives with Reaching Arms International say it may take six to nine months, maybe longer, to complete the process.
The White's sold one of their horses last week to send money to Poland to pay for administrative expenses.
"I think I needed to do everything to get her out of there," Mark said.
They realize that adopting Ania means teaching another child about growing up, going through school and other aspects of childhood and young adulthood.
"Nancy said it looks like we're going to have to teach another person to drive," Mark said.
To reach Robert Hite, send e-mail to email@example.com or call 350-6321.
Mark White carries Ania on his shoulders in her hometown in Poland. After they began to get to know each other she often chose to ride on his shoulders.
As she frequently did Ania rides on Mark White's shoulders with other children in her town in Poland.