Imagine you are a six-year-old boy living in a Ukrainian orphanage, where you have been since you were three. You have food, clothing, and shelter, but little else—no love, no future, nor any softness in your life. Once you had a best friend, who was like your brother, but he was adopted and now you are by yourself.
Fast-forward one year. A family in the U.S. has adopted you, and from day one, you realize that you have found the home you longed for. You have parents and siblings who love you and a future as big as the promise of America. Better yet, your best friend lives close by, and his adoptive mom and yours are friends. You get to see him often. It is like having an extended family.
Now you have some idea of the difference that international adoption has made for Igor. Life-changing is too modest a description.
It all began nine years ago as Igor’s adoptive mother, Ann, listened to the radio during her morning commute. “I heard information about the orphanages in Eastern Europe and all the children in need of families. I was surprised to hear that there were a lot of boys waiting to be adopted.”
After discussing adoption with her husband, Ron, and then with their three children, Ann was put in contact with Kristen, who had recently adopted a boy (Misha) from Ukraine. They had to leave his best friend (Igor) behind. “The rest, as they say is ‘sweet history,’” says Ann. “We went through all the informational sessions and training, and about a year later we had our Igor.”
Eight years later, Igor still remembers dodging rocks hurled over the orphanage fence by the local kids, feeling afraid at night, receiving poor medical care, and wondering whether the police would take him away if he cried, as the nurses threatened. But today things are very different. The outgoing 15-year-old plays on his school’s basketball team, runs cross country, enjoys skiing and playing video games, and loves riding his bike and four-wheeler.
As for he and his friend, “Igor and Misha are true brothers at heart,” says Ann. “When they get together, they love to do activities at home, ride bikes, go running, eat, go to sporting events, and shop. They stay up until all hours talking.”
Igor says, “A hero can be strong and famous and do big things, or just a regular person who tries to help other people. My hero is a single mom who adopted my best friend in western Ukraine and helped me find a loving and caring family too.”
But the family’s journey of adoption didn’t stop with Igor. In October 2010, Ann learned of a 15-year-old Ukrainian boy just months away from “aging out” of his orphanage. Already thinking of adopting again, Ron and Ann immediately began the process. With God’s grace, they surmounted the numerous challenges, and in April 2011, they brought their son, Alexander, home. A high school senior, Alex is an active young man who enjoys playing varsity soccer.
“The happiness and love that our two adopted sons have brought to our family far outweighs what it took to accomplish the adoptions,” observed Ron and Ann. “This country was built by men such as Alex and Igor—great people who just need a chance and a place to grow.”