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Why Living in an Orphanage is the Best Thing that Could have Happened to me

March 20, 2023

Sitting at the Newark Airport, after an incredible, life changing mindset and personal growth conference, I get to write on my fancy laptop. I'm rapidly typing and trying to keep up with my thoughts. I'm enjoying the busyness of people walking by and the constant reminders of flights boarding. In the midst of a lot going happening, I'm so thankful. Today and it seemed daily, I slow down and give thanks for this life I'm building with my husband.

We have a successful remodeling company in Minnesota. An amazing team and amazing clients. We get paid to design solutions for our client's homes and desired lifestyles. Together, we've been able to design a few million dollars worth of projects and we are just getting started!

How is it possible that less than 30 years ago, my siblings and I lived in a humble shack with dirt floors, somewhere in Guatemala. Our birth parents could not care for us and left us with random people. By chance someone noticed the abuse we were going through and reported our situation to the Guatemala authorities. Then on one day, our ives changed. We were taken to Guatemala City for the first time and that same day placed in an orphanage. Immediately we had 45 friends. For five years, we shared birthdays, toys and clothes with all of these kids. This was the best life we had been given to date.

1995 in the orphanage

One of the earliest and most painful memories was when I had to let go of the idea of seeing my birth mother one more time. I remember, for two years, after we were placed in the orphanage, I would hear the door bell ring and as often as I could, I would run to the door. So many times I had visualized my birth mother go over the overpass, next to the busy highway, where our orphanage was located and I saw her turn the corner to our street and ring the door bell. Each time it was not my birth mother at the door, my little heart broke, until I had no hope and just anger. How could a mom forget and loose 3 kids? Five year old me did not understand.

My siblings and I never saw our birth mother again, but I love her, forgive her and release her. It's likely she was very young and no education or means of caring for kids. I hope something beautiful became of her life, but statistics tell me differently.

Within the last year, a mentor of mine said the phrase, "Life happens for me, not to me." This changed my perspective on many of the painful things I went through as a child. I see how these things, have shaped who I am choosing to become. These painful experiences serve me and empower me as I move forward.

My 5 reasons (of many) why living in an orphanage was the best thing that could of happened to me.

-My siblings and I were able to stay together.

-I am constantly filled with gratitude.

-I am resilient.

-My siblings and I were adopted together, by amazing parents!

-I was introduced to what now are my foundational values for faith and living generously.

These are some reasons why I say, "living in the orphanage is the best thing that could have happened to me." Today, I could of been my birth mom, reapeating a cycle of hopelessness and poverty. Today, this is not my story. I'm the author of my story and the next chapters are going to include a lot of creating beautiful spaces and impacting the lives of hundreds of little kids living in orphanages.

March 20, 2023 in New Jersey at a Conference

Live beautifully and generously,

Ariela Bakken

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