Vlad the Worker Man

When we adopted Vlad we really had no idea what to expect for his future. He could say a handful of words, but they were pretty difficult to understand. His behaviors were VERY institutional. He would screech and scream in public, he flapped his arms and made strange sounds. He had zero concept of appropriate social norms and personal space. He was a little bit like a wild animal, to be honest. But he was curious and he wanted to learn, so we started to teach him. 

The day we adopted Vlad

Over the past 6 years, Vlad has far exceeded anyone’s expectations. He can read and write in Ukrainian and he is fluent in Ukrainian and in English. He’s grown from a 15-year-old who wore size 8 boys’ clothes into a 21-year-old man who is taller than me and still growing! He is responsible and smart and never forgets a face. Vlad is a miracle. 

One of the dreams we have for our boys is that they would each grow into their full potential. That they would be allowed, in this space of healing and love, to fully become the men they were created to be. For Vlad, we saw his great potential for growth, and an impossible dream began to grow in our hearts. We began to dream that Vlad would one day have a job. 

Vlad is a hard worker around the house and once he understands a task, he completes it in a timely fashion. We knew he would make a great employee, but the barrier to employment was a cultural one. People like Vlad, with significant intellectual and physical disabilities do not work here in Ukraine, in general. I mean, it would be extremely rare to see someone like our boys out in about in public, let alone working at a public establishment. You just never ever see it! But still, we dreamed of a future in which Vlad could work and grow in his independence. 

Then we met Dima. Dima owns an electrical supply store in Zhytomyr. Jed met him through the construction of the duplex. They did some business together and discovered that they had mutual friends. Dima had even visited Romaniv once! Jed and Dima developed a friendship and Dima became interested in our work. He came out to visit a few times and began to more fully understand what we are doing here. Then he told us he wanted to help. Jed heard those words and decided to not hold back. 😉 “You want to really help? Would you consider giving Vlad a job in your shop?” Without hesitation, Dima said that yes, he would be happy to give Vlad work. Oh.my.word. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Vlad as happy as he was the day he learned he was going to be a “worker man”, as he put it. 😆

Vlad and Dima on his first day of work

On May 11th Vlad began to work in Dima’s shop. For the first couple of days Tanya, our special ed teacher, joined him to help coach him on appropriate behavior in the workplace, and to help Dima find the best tasks for Vlad. He started out working twice a week for a couple of hours at a time, and now works 3 days a week for 4 hours each day. He is one happy dude. Vlad mostly works in the back of the store, bringing inventory from storage to the front and helping with counting inventory and such. Dima told me this week that he has to check up to make sure Vlad doesn’t make mistakes, but that he has progressed a lot in his abilities over the past couple of months. They are so patient there and truly want to help Vlad to be successful in his work. It’s become a bit of a mission for the store employees. It seems like they all feel joy and pride in the sense of purpose the work brings to Vlad’s life.

Vlad at work

This month Vlad became an official, documented employee. I can’t emphasize enough what a miracle that is. It just doesn’t happen! We are so proud of Vlad and so thankful to Dima and his staff for making this happen for our guy. Vlad is growing in independence and maturity and having an occupation is a priceless gift in Vlad’s life.

Yesterday we celebrated Vlad’s 21st birthday. He’s an adult. He has a job, responsibility, a paycheck. I think back to the little tiny 15-year-old we adopted and marvel at all God has done. He has brought the right people into Vlad’s life at just the right time. We are so thankful and so proud.

18 comments

  1. Jaime Lowe · July 24

    I love your stories and journey Kim!! This is so my life right now too! May the Lord continue to lead, and guide each day. May His face shine before us like never before. May His favor be upon us. In Jesus name, Amen

  2. Denise Woods · July 24

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing, and thank you ro Dima for coming alongside you with awesome help for Vlad’s independence!

    Happy 🎂 Birthday, 🥳 Vlad!

  3. Vonnie Bittner · July 24

    I’m so proud of you Vlad-man! Kimber, my heart is soaring right now as I think of all the changes, and dreams being fulfilled! God is do good! Love you all! Miss you Vlad!

    • kimnjed · August 4

      We miss you tooooooooo!!! ❤️❤️❤️

  4. Victoria Dickinson · July 24

    This is truly the Kingdom breaking in!
    All the restoration/healing/joy and love of God. Ztown needs this, thank you, Dima for letting this joybringer flourish💙 Way to go Jed for being bold and asking👊
    Happy Birthday, WORKER MAN boatloads of sweet blessing!
    Love, V-

    • kimnjed · August 4

      Vlad says Thanks! 😆

  5. Kimberly Copple · July 24

    Beautiful. What a testimony of redemption and Vlads fortitude! We love you!

    • kimnjed · August 4

      It really is a wonderful testimony. ❤️

  6. Teresa Moyer · July 25

    This is so awesome!!!! So happy for Vlad!

  7. Dana L Ewer · July 25

    Wow! What a blessing Dima is! Way to go Vlad!

    • kimnjed · August 4

      Yes, Dima is a great blessing. I would love to hear how your family is doing! Since we’re off social media I’m out of the loop. If you ever feel like emailing me I would love it! 😍

  8. Lisa · July 25

    I love this so much! Continually praying for you all.

    • kimnjed · August 4

      Thank you so much for your prayers. We really do appreciate it and need it. ❤️

  9. Laura Powell · July 28

    Happy birthday to Vlad, and I’m praising God with you for the miracle of employment! Thanks for writing!

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