Since we began our journey to adopt back in December, we’ve learned that a lot that this process has been a lesson in faith. When we heard the Lord’s call to adopt, we selfishly wanted what assumed would be easiest. We were hoping we would get the healthiest, youngest children available because we assumed that the healthiest and youngest would somehow be better fits in our family than any alternative. This plan seemed to work in our favor, as the first “match” we pursued was a little boy just under the age of 1 year. He was beautiful. While he had a few special needs listed, that gut feeling hit us with the force of a speeding truck. This is our son.
This feeling helped to sustain us and empower us as we proceeded through the home study process. At that time, we were approved to pursue two children. We opened our mind to the idea that the second child (while statistically more likely to be a boy) could also be a girl. We trusted that the second match was out there and we were willing to enter into it blindly and wait until the very end (at our meeting with the Ministry in Ukraine) to make a decision. When we were shown pictures and offered little A, a boy about a month older than M, it seemed like it could be a good fit. They were close in age. “A” only had a couple of listed needs on his health profile that made him a logical choice for our family. But admittedly, we didn’t get that same punch-in-the-gut feeling. I assumed that my love for him would grow over time, and we put pictures of both of them in frames and around the house to help our hearts and minds prepare for the changes that would develop. Yet even still, A just didn’t feel like OUR son.
In the end, we didn’t want either of them to be a second-best fit in our family, and chose not to accept “A’s” match. We trusted that there was still another little one out there that we would know from the very beginning that they were meant to be ours too.
By the strangest turn of events, I saw a video listing of a boy (N) that was aging out of the “baby house,” where kids under the age of 5-7 (depending on the orphanage) reside. He had the cutest little voice and most earnest expression that our hearts couldn’t help but melt a little. While we weren’t certain if he was meant to be ours, we reached out to the person who was referenced as the point of contact to ask for more information. We had mentioned that we were in the process of adopting two children and were home study approved for two. When she asked if we had already been pursuing another and asked to see their picture, we sent her M’s picture.
“[M’s name here]!” she exclaimed! “I know him!! Did they tell you he has siblings?”
The air felt stagnant. In that moment, you could have heard a pin drop. The feeling of sheer shock hung thick in the air. Siblings…? Multiple siblings??
We came to find out that M’s three biological siblings resided in the same orphanage with him, but they were legally separated due to a differentiation in special needs. M’s special needs were greater than those of his siblings, so he was legally separated from them in order to be more adoptable, while his siblings stayed part of a set. His file, alone, was sent to our agency and as many orphans often have siblings that they’ve never met, our agency assumed that little M must have had siblings that were either already adopted, far older, or in another orphanage.
In reality, his older brother (H), aged 2, had a crib that was side-by-side with M’s. His fraternal twin sisters (S and H), aged 4, were in a different group for older kids in the same orphanage, but the staff members tried to get them together every now and then. There was even a video shoot of all four of them in the hope that they could, one day, be adopted all together. The more we dug to get more information, the more we found out. We saw their official Ukrainian profiles with the government, videos and photos of them shot by various Ukrainian charities, and photos from an American-based charity that works with orphans in Ukraine.
It is thanks to our new friend, a very kind woman who works with the aforementioned American-based charity, that dedicated so much of her time to help us. She was able to direct us towards resources, answers and offer assistance every step of the way. We owe her so much in helping us get our family together!
Before immediately jumping to conclusions and making snap decisions, we looked at the feasibility. COULD we take on four kids? Could we give each of them the proper care, attention and education that they need? How would we balance time, finances, and our future goals?
We took some time to think and get over the initial shock of the news. When you believe that your future son is an only child for four whole months, it really is surprising to find out that he is the youngest of FOUR. But after this initial surprise left us, we began to smile.
Looking back on the beginning of this, we fell completely in love with this little boy. Had we known that he was one of four a year ago, I not certain that we could have gotten over that initial shock and jumped off that cliff at the beginning of our adoption journey. It would have just been so new and so out of our comfort zone. But instead, by the time we learned of M’s older siblings, our hearts had already been prepped and softened. We had already discussed going back in the future and for older kids with more severe needs. Looking at each of M’s siblings, we were able to look at them and think “Yes… that is our child.” That punched-in-the-gut feeling was there too.
As of now, our home study has been updated and published to reflect the approval for up to four children. We worked and met the additional standards needed to bring in two more children. We sent off our immigration paperwork with our updated home study and are on the cusp of receiving immigration approval… for four orphaned siblings.
These kids have already endured more than most of us ever will, and yet, they continue to be so resilient and still so hopeful. We’ve been blessed to have spoken with a family who was recently at the kids’ orphanage. They met the girls and spoke of how they stood out as two of the sweetest kids they saw on their seven-week trip in Ukraine.
We know the road ahead will be filled with many challenges and bumps. The process to bring four children home isn’t easy, and the road after that won’t be a piece of cake either. Fortunately, we are preparing and setting up structures in place to help everyone get adjusted — ourselves included.
Our new goal is to get all the kids home by Christmas. We pray that this is a possibility and are praying for the safety and security of these four until we arrive. Sorry to surprise you all! The journey of adoption always comes with many twists and turns and this is pretty big twist! But we’re so SO excited to be their parents, and so SO excited to get them home.
Thank you so much, family and friends, for sticking by us this far. We can’t wait to show you these precious kids! Miss S, Miss H, Mister H and Mister M will all be Ryders soon.*
*Note: full names cannot be posted publicly, so please bear with us as we must resort to using initials. With two of our kids having names that will start with “H,” we’ll be using “Mister” and “Miss” to refer to whom we’re speaking about. Again, please bear with us. This is part of our contract and is to protect our kids’ identities until the adoption is finalized.