We hope to inspire through this interview with adoptive mom and nonprofit founder, Kate Szostak! Kate, her husband Benjamin, and son Luca adopted their daughter, Winnie-Rose from Armenia in 2019. Since then, they have added another son, Wolfie, into their home. Winnie received a life changing surgery and is thriving in her family. Take an inside look at their journey that is still changing orphans’ lives today.
What was your journey that led your family to adopt?
Serendipitous in a way. Something that was written for us and our story. It was just something that we were led to. When I was younger, I had two friends who had been adopted internationally. One thing these friends shared with me on multiple occasions was how their lives would have been if they had not been adopted. They were so happy in their adoptive families and were doing great. My friendship with these adopted friends left an impression on me that became a desire to adopt a child myself one day.
How was your family led to adopt from Armenia?
Once married, we were blessed with the birth of our son, Luca. After he was born, we started talking about adopting our next child. We had a heart to adopt a child with special needs. We were living in the United Kingdom at the time and started reaching out to local agencies. Through the step-by-step process, we were led to adopt a little girl from Armenia. This was serendipitous, because my grandmother’s close friend was Armenian and fused Armenian culture into my childhood. Soon we received a referral, a precious little girl who had a physical disability that needed surgery and fitting for a prosthetic leg.
What was Winne’s Impact on your Community?
When we brought Winnie home, it was interesting because she was the first adopted child in our community, and so she was really the first face of an orphan that all our friends, family, and neighbors encountered. A lot of them asked how they could help other children like Winnie, and we had some friends who were inspired to adopt themselves! It was just beautiful to see how Winnie’s story and life influenced others to move forward and help other children.
How has Winnie’s Life Changed Since Coming Home?
Winnie is now a precious ice-skating princess who loves going to kindergarten! Winnie was born missing her hip socket and most of her thigh bone. When we adopted her, we knew she would need surgery and fitting for a prosthetic to be able to walk. There are only a few places in the world where this special surgery, called a rotationplasty is performed! The surgeons were able to rotate her leg so that her foot works as a bending knee, with a prosthetic from the knee down. Winnie can walk, dance, and even take the ice skating lessons she loves!
What is Winnie’s Favorite Toy?
We recently bought Winnie a baby doll with characteristics of Down Syndrome. As soon she saw the doll, she was obsessed with her and named her “Sunny.” Winnie plays with her all the time. Watching her be maternal and nurturing with doll baby Sunny reminds us of how she interacted with the babies at the orphanage. Many of the babies in her orphanage in Armenia had down syndrome. We often look at pictures of the orphanage and she realizes that many of them have down syndrome, like her baby doll.
Tell Us About Your Nonprofit Grant Organization for Adopting Families
After spending five months at the orphanage in Armenia while adopting Winnie, it was heartbreaking to leave the other children behind who are still waiting for families. My husband and I just felt like we had to do more to help more children like Winnie come home. We started a Nonprofit that provides small grants to families who are adopting children with special needs from Hague Convention Countries. We named the organization the Blue Bear Family Foundation and we invite families to contact us through our website. We love helping families adopt and more kids like Winnie come home!