After camp Jed and I both began to see Vladik differently. Our hearts toward him were changing, but it wasn’t something we talked about with each other. We both just knew in our hearts we had a special love for him. Honestly, every person who serves at Romaniv has their “favorite”. Ha! You know, that one boy that you just connect with in a special way. My “favorite” changes from week to week. 😉
Separately, Jed and I both began to think more and more about Vladik. Our love for him grew and grew. Separately, we started to wonder if God had something more for us and Vladik together. We didn’t know even what that would mean. We didn’t know how old Vladik was (it’s impossible to guess the ages of the boys at Romaniv), if he was even available for adoption (only 9 boys out of 86 at Romaniv can be adopted), or what God had in mind. Then, over time we both, separately (great communication skills, eh?), began to feel like God was maybe asking us to consider adoption. Holy smokes. Scary thought. It’s one thing to love Vladik at Romaniv and camp. It’s a whole other thing to love him in our home, as our son, for the rest of his life.
In October Jed and I began to talk about Vladik together. We both shared with the other our musings about adoption and laughed about how crazy it sounded to bring pursue adopting one of our boys while continuing to live in Ukraine. Was it even possible? I mean, all of our boys have so many needs, could we raise Vladik here and continue to be effective in the work God has called us to? Was Vladik even adoptable? What about our other kiddos? Were there any safety concerns for them? Would a family need to live in America to be able to adequately care for Vladik’s medical needs? How could we afford an international adoption while living on raised support? Would it be possible to do an American adoption from Ukraine while living in Ukraine? So much to pray about and consider. We decided to keep those thoughts to ourselves for the time being and just wait on the Lord. We knew that if He wanted Vladik to join our family He would speak to us.
The very next morning, after we had first talked about our love for Vladik we got an email from a dear friend in Switzerland. She told us that she had had a dream about us and felt like she was supposed to share, even if it sounded strange to us. She dreamed that she was coming to visit us in Ukraine and we were so excited because we were adopting two boys from Romaniv! In the end we ended up adopting one boy, but then before we could get back to adopt the other one he passed away. 😦
Of course we didn’t know what the whole dream meant, but wow. What an encouragement from the Lord that he would speak to us through our friend about adoption when we had told NO ONE our hearts! Shortly after that we found out from the assistant director of the institution that Vladik was one of the few boys available for adoption! Oh my.
Then came November, a really dark time for us. We began to learn more about what makes Romaniv the way it is. Jed always says “Romaniv didn’t get the way it is from everybody doing their best job.” Ain’t that the truth. The plain and simple truth is that the enemy has kept that place in darkness for far too long, and he doesn’t plan to give it up easily. This work we do is absolutely our dream come true. We couldn’t imagine doing anything else, yet this work comes with plenty of pain and heartache. All is not lollipops and roses. We try to be very positive about what we share on social media about the Boys and our work. It’s not like we’re dishonest or anything, it’s just very important to us that we always maintain the boys’ dignity, and to remember hope when we share. Our boys have had everything stolen from them. We will not go in and steal their dignity as well. Honestly though, the more and more time we spend at Romaniv, the more and more layers of ugliness we uncover. That’s just bound to happen. In that regard, November was just plain rough on our spirits. It was not pretty. We couldn’t manage to think of much except putting one foot in front of the other. The weight of injustice became almost too much to bear. Adoption dreams were on the backburner.
Then two of our boys that we love VERY much were sent to a hospital several hours away and were lost to us. The Director said they would be gone for at least a year, and “maybe forever”. It felt like a death. We just arrived one day and they were gone. Oh the tears. We were devastated because we knew those boys would not understand what was happening. Would they be scared? Would they be treated well? Then we remembered our friend’s dream. One of the boys that was sent away, Valera, was Vladik’s only real “peer” in the Isolation Hall. He was the one other boy that would try to play a little, and the two of them were attached at the hip. One of our big issues with adopting Vladik was knowing we could never take him away and leave Valera behind, but Valera was too old to be adopted. When we first started talking about adopting we had discussed trying to get guardianship of Valera and were really thinking we could find a way to take him home too, and then he was gone. Just like the dream. So, so sad. Maybe this adoption idea was too much for our hearts to take on.
December came and we prepared to make a couple Christmas videos for Wide Awake, to introduce people to two of our boys. Jed decided to feature Boris in his video because they have a really special connection. I couldn’t decide who to feature in mine! After lots of indecision I decided to feature Vladik in my video because my deepest connection was with him, and I hoped maybe his family would discover him by watching the video. Jed and I had basically stopped talking about adopting him ourselves, so if he couldn’t be ours I made it my mission to find him a family of his own.
Thousands of people saw the videos of Boris and Vladik. 🙂 Only a few days passed and a family wrote an email inquiring about adopting him! My heart leaped and sank at the same time when I read their email. Is that even possible? It sure felt like it. We wanted a family for him so badly, but oh man, I had so hoped it would be us. Whenever our kids would watch the video of Vladik (which they were slightly obsessed with) Havalah would say “But Mommy, we don’t really want him to be adopted right? Because then we would never get to see him anymore!” She said it every.single.time. Anyway, I got over myself 😉 and was truly excited to get that inquiry about Vladik, but then we found out that the interested parents were too young to adopt Vladik. They were only 12 years older than him, and by Ukrainian law adoptive parents have to be at least 15 years older than the child they are adopting. Back to the drawing board, loving our boy more than ever after seeing how many people responded to his preciousness in the video.
Then one morning in January Jed woke up early and felt like God spoke to him super clearly, “So, when are you gonna finally move forward with adopting Vladik?” Uuuuuuh now, I guess???? Ha! Jed came and told me he felt like we were supposed to go for it, and that was that. I mean, we loved him, he needed a family, it was really a no-brainer. All of our reasons for saying no seemed absolutely fearful and selfish and lame. Our baby was right in front of our faces and he needed his mommy and daddy. We sought wisdom from our parents, our pastor, and a few friends, and they were all completely supportive and completely not surprised. 🙂 In mid-January we began working on documents, and on August 31st Vladik became our son.
It might have taken 15 years, but Vladik is finally found. We pray and believe that God will use Vladik to be a voice for those who are yet to be rescued. We pray and believe that God will use our family, and our adoption story to show Ukrainian people the value of our Boys. It’s awesome, God has spoken to us, and to many others that Vladik is going to bring our family so much joy. We know that of course there are bound to be some rough moments ahead, but we just keep getting the word “JOY”. As Jed and I drove away from court after the judge declared Vladik was our son we had tears streaming down our faces: “How is it that God saved Vladik for us? How did we get to be the lucky ones?”
He is so valuable. He is so beautiful. He is our baby and we are the happiest, most blessed family in the world.