Our New Adventure Begins

IMG_7870 (500x333)Ever since I was a little girl, the plight of the orphan has tugged on my heartstrings like nothing else. The thought of children without parents to love and take care of them, really bothered me. I was born into a loving family with incredible parents, and my 5 siblings and I were brought up knowing the meaning of belonging, security and unconditional love.

Anytime a book, movie or story had an orphan in it, it would immediately catch my attention. IMG_8855 (500x421)I told myself that someday, when I was old enough, I would do something about it. I would give my love to a child who didn’t have it. My family has heard me talking about adopting since I was a teenager.

Of course, I talked about it to my husband even before we were married. He hadn’t really considered it until that point, but over the years, he has made it part of his dream and become completely supportive and just as passionate about it as I am.

It was important to us to adopt from Russia, since that’s where our heritage is from, but when that didn’t work out, we moved on to providing a loving home for children in our own community.

Most of the time, the baby is keeping me company while I write my blog posts:).

Most of the time, the baby is keeping me company while I write my blog posts:).

Why didn’t we pursue adoption in another Soviet country such as Belarus or Ukraine? Why aren’t we pursuing international adoption?

We did do our research in regards to both countries and many others.

Belarus:

Sergi and I were both born in Belarus, so the obvious choice would be to adopt from our country of birth.  However, that isn’t even an option.

Belarus does not have any agreement with the US for international adoptions. I am not a Belorussian citizen, since  my family and I moved to the States when it was still part of the Soviet Union. Sergi is both a Belorussian and an American citizen, so the only way for us to adopt from Belarus would have been for him to move back to Belarus permanently, adopt a child/children and apply for immigration to the US all over again. Most likely he wouldn’t have been approved for an adoption anyway, since adoptions for men are not very common. He would have had to live in Belarus a few years in the meantime. Being separated for years didn’t interest us in the slightest.

There is a lot of legal work that needs to be done in order to complete an international adoption. You can’t just go to another country, adopt a child and bring it back home to America. We spent more than a year doing all sorts of legal work and getting paperwork done for our Russian adoption. Since Belarus doesn’t have an agreement for adoptions with the US, this would have been difficult to work through. Trust me, this would have been a messy option.

Ukraine:

Ukraine does not allow international adoptions for children younger than 5 unless they have special needs. At this point, my husband and I want to adopt very young children, since we are young ourselves. (I am mistaken for a teenager all the time; I want to look like a mother, not a big sister.)

As for adopting from another country, such as China, Ethiopia, Korea,etc., here are a few things that we based our decision on:

1. All international adoptions are very expensive. We lost A LOT of money when we were trying to adopt from Russia, so we would have to wait to save up enough money to cover another international adoption.

2. International adoptions are usually very long processes and people spend years on waiting lists.

The same reasons apply to private adoptions in the US, expensive and a long waiting time, in most cases.

This is a very personal choice. It’s different for every family, but for our family, we decided that there are many children in our own community that need parental care and it was the best option for us at this point in our life. Who knows? We may adopt internationally or privately sometime in the future.

What is Foster Care? Why Foster Care vs. Adoption?

Foster care in our country is when the parents have died or, for many different reasons, can’t take care of their children, either temporarily or permanently. This is when the children are placed in a foster home, to be taken care of by licensed, trained people, who will provide a home and some sense of normalcy for them, while the different situations with their parents are resolved. Usually, the children live with a family, in their home and part of their daily life, unlike institutionalized care in most other countries. There are group homes in the US too, because there aren’t enough foster homes available, but most children are part of a normal home life.

I was very resistant to foster care for a very long time. Yes, these children have always had a special place in my heart, but I was terrified of foster care. The main fear I had was getting attached to the child and then having to say good bye.

Foster care is very risky. After all, the main goal of foster care is reunification with the birth parents or other family members and only after all possibilities are exhausted is the child available for adoption.

Life has taught me many lessons. I found out that anything in life is risky.

Having your own biological child is just as risky. You have no guarantees that everything will end with a happily ever after. My husband and I went through the excruciating pain of burying our daughter and that wound will always be there. florida-olga-k-may-2007-012I still think about her all the time,  I wonder what she would have been like, what her personality would be, who she would look like. I know that she would be in first grade right now and in my mind, I’m always following along the milestones that would have been, if only she had lived.

Adoption is not guaranteed either. Russia had never permanently banned adoptions of their orphans by Americans before, yet it happened. You can adopt privately and the biological parents can change their minds. It also happens.

Getting fingerprinted to have our backgrounds checked and be approved for adopting an internationally adopted child.

Getting fingerprinted to have our backgrounds checked and be approved for adopting an internationally adopted child.

We can’t avoid pain. As I say many  times, we live in an imperfect world. Life is NOT fair.

I’ll never forget going outside for a wheelchair ride for the first time after more than a month in the ICU. As my husband pushed my wheelchair on the sidewalk, I saw a really young teenage girl at the entrance get discharged from the hospital with her newborn baby. The raw pain and anger just ripped through the core of my being. My husband and I had been so excited to welcome our daughter into our family and had been eagerly and enthusiastically preparing and dreaming of the day when she would finally be born and we would bring her home. Yet, there we were, with empty arms, standing outside the hospital entrance, watching this young girl getting into the car with her mother and new baby.

We can’t control the different situations that happen in life. We can choose to become bitter and cynical, or allow God to give us His strength, carry us through the difficult days and move on to make the best of the life that we were given. photo (4) (500x500)I’m sure it will hurt when we have to say good bye to a child we have poured out our love to. That  is a very real possibility and we know what we are getting ourselves into. Of course, we don’t know exactly what it will be like until we’ve actually experienced it, but we know the realities of foster care.

Do we pull ourselves back and put up guards so that we won’t get attached to prevent heartache? Absolutely not. These innocent, precious children deserve ALL my love, care and dedication. They will be a part of our family in every way, just as if they were born into our family, for isn’t that what they really need? Neither will these children be our “ministry project”. They will have full access to our devotion and affection. 

It also hurts not to enjoy the awesome experience of loving a child. As I cuddle the baby, kiss his sweet cheeks and watch him smile, I wouldn’t want to miss this for anything.

Yes, we would love to adopt and have children permanently. We will certainly adopt when the opportunity comes up. Maybe it won’t happen right away, maybe we will have to say good bye to many children, but eventually, some of them will become a permanent part of our family. We are sure that we will have many opportunities to adopt in the coming years.

In the meantime, we will pour out all our love on the children that are with us and they will feel security, unconditional love and affection. They will also be in our thoughts and our prayers for the rest of our lives.

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Baby’s first bath.

Foster Care is a Great Option:

  • Foster care normally costs little or nothing. If the child you are caring for is up for adoption and you become their legal, adoptive parent, the adoption won’t cost you anything. During the years when we were in the process of adoption, we heard many, MANY people tell us that they would love to adopt, but they just couldn’t afford it. Well, there’s no excuse here. Adopting through the foster care system won’t cost you anything.
  • No age limitations. As long as you are an adult over the age of 21, you can become a foster parent. Many private adoption agencies have age limitations for the adoptive parents, but you don’t have to worry about it with foster care.
  • Foster care is much faster than adoption. Adopting privately or internationally usually means a really long wait, sometimes years. It took us a few months to get certified as foster parents and you will get a child shortly after that.
  • No overseas/across the country travel or long time off work needed: The children in foster care will be right from your community, so you don’t have to take time off work or spend lots of money on traveling. Most of the time, the children will be brought right to your home by the state workers.
  • Foster care licensure paperwork is much easier than for adoption: Preparing our paperwork for a Russian adoption was a nightmare, even though I  consider myself an organized person, who usually breezes right through paperwork. Although we did have to go to classes and some paperwork is still part of the process, it’s much simpler for foster care.

    All the documents that we needed to notarize and apostille for the Russian adoption.

    All the documents that we needed to notarize and apostille for the Russian adoption.

  • You can specify exactly what type of children your family will be comfortable taking care of. If you would rather not get a newborn, that’s totally fine, you can specify the age, gender, race, health, etc. of the child. You can be as nonspecific as you want and take care of any child, newborn – 18. However, you can be very specific. For example, there are many people who want to take care of children who are the same age and gender as their biological child, so they can share the same room, go to the same school etc. It’s totally up to you.
  • As a foster parent, you are well informed of your child’s case. You will know how the biological parents are doing with their case plan, what the plan is for the future, new happenings, etc. I think this is very helpful in preparing yourself, both physically and emotionally, as the foster parent, and also preparing the child. It’s very unlikely that the child will suddenly be returned to the biological parents with no warning. Depending on the case, the child starts out with short phone calls to the biological parents, then short, supervised visits, eventually working up to longer visits, weekend visits and finally reunification. You will also know if the biological parents are not following their case plan, and when the goal of reunification changes to possibly finding another family member to become a legal guardian or termination of parental rights, at which point the child will be up for adoption.
  • Foster care is a phenomenal way to have a positive role in the community that you live in. As a Christian, it’s so important to me to show the love of God to the people around me. It’s so much more convenient to live in our own little world, without noticing the great need around us.
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    You will have the opportunity to build relationships with the biological parents and other family members and share with them a better way of life, and show them the life that they can have if they make better choices. Many of these families have never been a part of a functional home, so it’s such a wonderful opportunity to share with them the family that we are blessed with.

Is it possible to love a child that isn’t related to you by blood as much as a child that is biologically born to you and your spouse?

How can you measure love? I know that I love the baby that is with us now with every ounce of my being. Do you love your biological child more than I love my baby? Love is love. It’s a commitment. It’s a choice we make every day. I’m not related biologically to my husband, yet I love him more than everyone else in this world combined.  He was a stranger,  we met, fell in love and got married. Our love is a very strong feeling and it’s a lifelong commitment.

I saw a picture of you with TWO babies. What happened to the other baby?

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My husband and I are licensed for two children at this time. (That’s how much room we have in our home.) Last weekend, we were given another baby boy, this one was 2 months old and he stayed with us for a short time, until another family member was found and approved to take care of him. He was a sweet little boy and it certainly felt like we had twin boys for awhile, since they were only one month apart. IMG_8348-2 (500x333)Parents with twins, isn’t it funny how both of them start crying at the same time, need to be changed and fed at the same time? We loved having two boys and will most likely have another child sometime soon.

“A life without cause is a life without effect.”

The question that I constantly ask myself is, “if I don’t do foster care, who will?” Someone needs to provide loving homes to these children. The need is great, but there aren’t that many people willing to open their homes and families to these children.

My Dad, giving a hand with one of the boys, while Sergi was holding the other one.

My Dad, giving a hand with one of the boys, while Sergi was holding the other one.

There are so many misconceptions about foster care and we want to not only give our love to the children that so desperately need it, but we also want to shed some positive light on adoption and foster care as well. This is why we chose to publicly share our story with all of you, even though it would be so much easier to keep it private and consider it nobody’s business but ours. This was a very difficult post to write, but it’s important for me to share this information with others.

I encourage all of you to look into foster care. Get involved in your community. Be open to the possibility to become a foster parent.

My brother and his fiance watching the boys, while we were getting ready for company.

My brother and his fiance watching the boys, while we were getting ready for company.

Don’t automatically assume that only childless couples should become foster parents. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for foster children to be part of a home that already had other children? It’s also a great way to teach your biological children to be compassionate and caring. 

Of course, not everyone should become foster parents, but you can lend a hand to others who are fostering. How about bringing them a meal or giving them a gift card? We’ve had many people who have already volunteered to babysit, and we really appreciate it.

Ask foster parents if they need anything for the children. Many times, we don’t know the exact age or gender of the child that will be part of our family, so it’s hard to prepare until they are actually with us. Maybe you can bring them some diapers, formula, clothes, toys, car seat, etc? We’ve had so much support from our families and are extremely grateful. The possibilities are endless, as long as you have the desire to help.

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Comments

  1. Tallya says

    I’m so glad that you wrote this and I hope many will take the time to read it. From the comments I’ve read, so many people have no idea what foster parenting means!

  2. Natasha says

    It was the best thing we ever done. we lost our daughter at the same time u did, so we decided to do foster care. we adopted 2 girls and still fostering kids. ( we have 2 bio, 2 adopted and 4 foster kids) so there is not a dull moment. lol. God bless u. and I hope u know u will have more than two kids, because that was we said we wont take more than 2, but they kept calling and calling and we could’t say no. lol

  3. Lana says

    What a great read! Thank you for posting this. It actually enlightened me about a lot information I didn’t know — mostly about foster care. May God bless your kind hearts that have opened up to these precious children! May He give you wisdom, courage, and strength to be guiding lights in the lives of these children. God bless you!

  4. Katia says

    Thank you so much for taking time to post this…I’ve always had an interest in adoption even as a teen and lately it felt like it’s something that was just a distant realization, or that it wouldn’t happen. This definitely opened an old calling in my heart :) ..thanks so much and may God keep pouring blessing into your family!

  5. Helen says

    thanks for sharing Olga, orphan children my passion also. I received my passion by losing my mom when i was 12 years old. I read both articles about your daughter and this one. I could see through all this that Heavenly Father molded you to who you are, full of love. God bless you dear. I’ll tell you one thing, adventures with God is always wonderful, doesn’t matter how painful they are. Since my mom didn’t teach me to cook, i’m always blessed with your recipes. You’re mama for many, you probably don’t realize. I bless with all God’s blessings, you are precious!

  6. says

    Olga, you are very strong and inspirational to so many. Thank you for sharing your story, all of it and not afraid being vulnerable in front of people. People like you and your husband make the best parents. I pray God bless you and give you abundant grace and patience as ALL parents need. :-)

  7. Larissa says

    Olga, your beautiful story made me cry! May God bless you abundantly in everything that you do! May he use your family as an example of His love to us as you show it towards the hurting and vulnerable children. Blessings to you, dear!

  8. demelzabunny says

    I’m sorry: I made a mistake in my last post that I thought you adopted. Just please take my sentiments and apply them to the sweet little charges you’re currently taking care of and will in future take care of. You and your husband are special people. I wish you all the best.

  9. Oksana says

    I often listen to focus on the family broadcasts, and they have a big heart for foster kids. We have kids of our own, but I have a place in my heart for opening our home to foster kids too, but my dear husband isn’t there yet. I’ve been sharing your family’s story to him. I’ll definitely show him this post too. Thank you so much for sharing. You’re right, it’s nobody’s business but yours, but this post actually cleared up a lot of things on adopting and foster care. You did all the research and laid it out so simply here. Great job Olga and Sergey

    • says

      I’m so happy to hear that this post was helpful to you, Oksana.
      I think it’s really important for spouses to be on the same page with important decisions like this one. If it’s something that God wants you guys to do, He’ll let your husband know about it too. Wish you all the best.

  10. Elena says

    God, bless you and your family!!!!! I have wanted to adopt when i was growing up. Now i have 9 kids of my own (10-0). So adopting is most likely not an option now, or doing foster care. But i am glad that someone else is able to do that, God bless you!!!!!!!

  11. Lara says

    Thank you for sharing your lovely story! And thank you for a beautifully written, well articulated, easy-to-read blog post. God bless your growing family! This is only the beginning. :)

    • Tania says

      Lara, I agree with you.. Olga writes beautifully, very articulate. I also love the love she writes with for those babies. True humility.

  12. Di says

    hi olga!
    “And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name receiveth Me.” Matthew 18:5
    I wish all God’s blessings to you and your family!!

    p.s. it would be nice to have a post about the baby’s room in the future :) if you dont mind of course!

  13. Dina says

    Hi Olga!!
    I’m so happy for u, God bless ur family for what ur doing!!
    My sister in law used to do foster care she had 3, 4 year olds. Then one day she got a 3month old, parents of that baby didn’t want to charge their life style and after 2 years they wrote of the parental rights it was sad but now my sister in law adopted him and I don’t think they paid anything for adoption! They r so happy with him, his a smart cute little 3yr old, and the saddest of all parent r Russians too. So god bless u for what ur doing n hope one day u will have one to keep.!

  14. Kathleen says

    Thank you for this post. It is refreshing to see Foster Care/Adoption in a positive light. We have foster parented over 60 children so far. We have adopted 6 from the system. All special needs except one. I would be careful posting pictures we are not allowed to do in my county. Enjoy your wee ones.

    • says

      Thanks, Kathleen! We certainly are enjoying our precious little guy.
      Wow! You guys are incredible! That’s so inspiring for me to hear. May God bless your family.
      In regards to the pictures, I’m careful to choose pictures where you can’t see the child’s face.

  15. elena says

    Thank u for sharing all that information, It is really helpful and informative . I did not know about foster care, so i found this post very eye-opening . My husband and i have 3 kids and we have talked about adopting some day, after reading all this , we may have to look into foster care. Many blessings to u :-)

  16. Yelena says

    Very touching story!

    I have a 6 month old and since i was young always wanted to adopt a child , but as you pointed out the road to international adoption is an up hill battle. this has really opened my eyes as i never thought of fostering but this is something i will need to look into once my daughter gets a little older, and hopefully it will lead to adoption. thank you for sharing, i hope it will move a lot of people , it has moved me! God bless you and your family

  17. Krystyna says

    Thank you for sharing your heart so openly! I completely agree with you about “the fear of getting hurt.” Sometimes it’s so easy to focus on the “what ifs?” and be crippled by the fear of the unknown. I’ve learned to plan for the worst, but hope for the best. God doesn’t promise us we’ll have a comfortable life, he says we’ll have trouble in the world and it’ll be painful, as we both know, but it’s about pushing forward and sacrificing your comfort for God’s plan. Difficult to do, but so incredibly rewarding when you see God’s plans come to pass and a child is able to gain a precious gift, a gift of love and care! You guys are amazing for opening your heart to these children and we pray that God comforts you and gives you strength to pour your love and care into these precious angels!

  18. Tina says

    Your post brought me to tears. May God bless you and your husband and your future. Thank you for changing lives and showing love to those that need it most.

  19. Rebecca Schulz says

    Sorry, I’m stalking your adoption posts haha.. just wanted to thank you for giving your perspective and experience of the foster care system. I’ve researched it, but it’s so nice to hear your encouraging words. Most others I talk to say it’s long, very complicated, and basically a losing battle. This really gives me hope that we can foster children in need within the next couple of years!

    • says

      Hi Rebecca! I am thrilled that you are interested in finding out more information about adoption and foster care.
      The things in life that really matter are worth it, no matter how hard they are.
      God bless you and I hope that you will stay excited to foster in the future:).

  20. Tania says

    Love your humility, truth, and love for these babies. Your blogs are very well written and articulate.

    I share your love for adoption too, the movie “Anne of Green Gables” really opened my eyes when I was 12. Keep doing what you’re doing Olga, you’re an inspiration to us all! xo
    God bless you, your husband, and your babies!!

    • says

      Thanks for the encouragement and such sweet words, Tania. Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorites. I’ve read it over and over again many times.

      • Tania says

        I recently heard a song I used to listen to by the Christian group Avalon. It’s called “Orphans of God”. It’s really good. Because as Christians are all grafted into the vine. Anyway, I think you may really like the song too. :)
        I also want to add, thanks for being a trailblazer in our Slavic community and advocating adoption and foster care. I have never understood nor ever will comprehend why there is such a stigma in the Slavic Christian culture about adoption. We were adopted by God after all. I’ve met numerous childless couples who would be great parents but didn’t want to go against the fold of our Slavic ‘standards’. I hope your story and advocacy brings hope to someone else, who would otherwise be reluctant to pursue the path of adoption in fears of Slavic social norms.

        • says

          Thanks for sharing such a beautiful song, Tania.
          We are so blessed to be a part of such a beautiful story. God has been so good to our family and we are so thankful that He gave us such a wonderful opportunity to have these children in our lives. I think that families with children would be great for foster care or adoption, not just childless couples. Imagine making children a part of a family with other children already there? How wonderful is that?

          • Tania says

            Hi Olga, sorry for the late reply. I’m glad you liked the song. :) It’s so powerful, always strikes a cord with me.
            Good point, I agree, families with children would also be great for fostercare and adoption. My coworker does fostercare, it was fun to see his Christmas cards with his bioloical children and a few grade schoolers and an infact from fostercare. It was lovely to see.
            Take care!

  21. says

    Can I just say how incredible you are?!?!

    There needs to be more women like you :)

    I have been wanting to get involved in advocating for child abuse cases and fostering ae of these children.

    So many ppl have called me crazy, asking me why I would want to get myself in such a mess. And the question breaks my heart. I just don’t understand why some people want to lead comfortable lives.

    And I love how you made the point to explain that YES you can love a child that you didn’t actually birth. I have had this conversation with others as well where they have told me that they don’t see themselves loving an adopted or fostered child as much as their own biological one, that there is deeper connection when it’s truly your own.

    Again, that topic always broke my heart as well.

    Anyways, thank you for sharing your heart! You are so precious and beautiful and I have no doubt God has big plans for you :)

    • says

      Thanks for the kind words, Zhanna.
      We are really just normal people and we are so blessed by the children that become a part of our family. They make us so happy and we love them absolutely as much as we would a biological child. It’s impossible not to:).
      May God bless you and I hope someday you will get to experience this amazing blessing too.

  22. Anna says

    Olga!
    your stories touch the dept of my heart, i feel like i know you already from your input.
    You should definitely write a book, you have something to share to the world around us.
    God bless you, and your family.

  23. says

    Im happ y for you and I uime gnderstand so well, we have TWINS adopted and now they have 19 years , ohe dear yes the tos so fast really fastl I love when they were Little, Esperanza and Gerardo are all our life with my hubby, and I think is the best thing we made in our all like,
    Blesssing!!

    Love your cook blog, amazing!!!!!
    xxxx

  24. Alina says

    So inspirational. I’m so happy there are people like you and your husband in this world. Thank you!!!

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