10 Dec Alex and Natty Ilie
Capturing Grace on a three week journey through Romania and Croatia
Have you ever thought about the fact that we are “created by God in His own image” (Genesis 1:27) and that we change throughout our lives? Our thoughts, actions, and attitude towards people are different from year to year. This is especially true in times of difficult, challenging situations when it seems that there is no way out. It is during those times that we especially need to remember – “for God, nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37).
Six months ago, I knew absolutely nothing about adoption. I didn’t know that there were so many children who lived in difficult circumstances. I didn’t know that it was really possible to help them, I didn’t know how strong the love of foster and adoptive parents for children can be.
All of this changed a few months ago while photographing for Jodi Tucker as she traveled throughout Romania, encouraging foster parents with her book, The Second Mother. During my time with Jodi we stayed in the home of Alex and Natty Ilie who have seven adopted children. I was so impressed with the cozy ambience and joy that fills their home. I witnessed joy and gratitude in the eyes of children who had only known sadness and abuse before being adopted.
Then, a few weeks later, I found myself in the same house, in the same room, and it felt like coming home. All familiar faces, laughter, conversations for me that I was excited about. But this time I was with talented humanitarian photographer Ronnie Mosley, serving as his Capturing Grace team member.
About ten years ago, Alex and Natty learned that they could not have biological children, it was a very difficult season of their lives. But as believers who trust God, they knew that God had a plan for their family. Both Alex and Natty felt a calling from God to adopt, so they decided to adopt one child who would be more or less like them.
But the Lord had a different plan when twins Alina and Cristi appeared at their house. They were seven years old and were gypsies. Their childhood story is very difficult, victims of domestic violence. Cristi was quick to embrace Alex and Natty as his mom and dad, shortly afterwards Alina did as well. Now, these children are 19 years old and have many gifts from God. Alina is incredibly positive and serves in a worship group. Cristi has already started his independent life, attending college in another city, “this child has a real gift from God for drawing,” one of his teachers exclaimed.
A few years later two more children appeared in the llie’s family, siblings, Crina and David. At that time, the children were about 4-5 years old, now they are teenagers, with big hearts that are warm. “David always helps me with hard work, until recently Crina could come to our room and sleep with us. She is a very kind girl,” Alex says about his children.
David’s birthday 🥳
Two other sisters, Denisa and Bianca, are also a part of the Ilie’s family. The story of their childhood is very difficult for our understanding. They slept in the forest for more than one night, running away from their parents who beat them and treated their children badly. But Alex and Natty appeared in their lives, helping them into a completely different life, showing them true love. When Ronnie and I listened to the stories of Alex’s children, we could not hold back tears because we saw the true love of God that reigned in this family’s home.
In my September visit, I also met one angel in their family: little two year old Eric, another adopted son of this family. Eric has had 25 operations due to his condition of hydrocephalus and West syndrome. Sadly, Eric’s biological parents declared in front of the judge: “neither me, nor my wife, will stop our jobs or lives for a child” and “our life does not revolve around this baby”. But for the Ilie family, he has become a valuable treasure that pleases all family members. Alex and Natty decided that for Eric, it is worth it to stop a job, and if there is a need, to move mountains for him.
Dear reader, I couldn’t say more here, I’m sure that you feel the emotions I had being with this amazing family. There is only one thing I want to ask you: please pray for this little angel Eric. He is fighting for his life every single day.
Thank you Ronnie for allowing me to share this story with our readers!