UKRAINE ADOPTION STORIES
My name is Oksana Gregory. I was a host child in 2009. I was in a orphanage for a year at that time and many of my friends had gotten a chance to go and see another country and be hosted. I began praying and hoping that God would give me an opportunity just like he gave them. One day I was called into the office and the orphanage director told me that I was chosen to be hosted in the USA. I was so happy, yet very nervous.
Coming to America was a big culture shock. All of the things were different, how people acted and treated each other. I was scared to try new things, the food and all kinds of different activities but my host family tried to get me to learn and see new things. Communication was hard but with a translation booklet things were a little bit easier, and, yes, a good amount of hand gestures were used. I was here during the time of Christmas. The amount of love and hope I felt during that time with the family is unexplainable. The family bought me lots and lots of presents that I wasn't even expecting. I remember crying out of joy and thanking God for everything. As the time came closer to me leaving, my host mom and dad asked me if i wanted to be adopted. Without giving it another thought, I said yes.
That opportunity changed my whole life forever. Who knew that this is what was going to happen; that God was going to turn my life around and give me a loving, caring and supportive family. I will forever pray and thank God for his love. Not only did I get a family out of this trip but I also got to learn about another country and make amazing memories that I will never forget.
My name is Nancy Gregory. I never actually planned to be a host parent, but God had different plans. We got a phone call at Christmas time, 2009 asking us to host a child because they had children flying in from Ukraine and not enough host homes. We only had a few hours to decide, and my husband and I decided to go ahead, but I remember my husband saying, "you know we're too old to adopt, don't even think about it". Our biological children were already grown and gone at that time.
Another lady was willing to host one the the children but couldn't get to the airport, so I told her I would pick up both children and drop off Viktor in Glenwood Springs, and then bring Oksana home with me. We lived in Grand Junction, Colorado and they were flying into Denver. That first night was pretty fun, neither child spoke any English and I was told they spoke Russian (they did not, they only spoke Ukrainian) but with hand gestures and a lot of laughs, we did OK.
As soon as I got Oksana home and my husband met her, he said,"that little girl is our daughter", so we started the process as soon as we were sure she wanted it too, and flew to Ukraine to get her six months later. God orchestrated the whole thing, and Oksana has completed our family perfectly. We never had any doubts, because we trusted God the whole time.
My adopted daughter Lesya is, by far, the greatest gift of my life, a gift that I never expected. I learned of Frontier Horizon through some local friends who had hosted a child… and my journey began. I hosted two girls in the summer of 2006. While the experience was positive and amazing in so many ways, there was another little girl who I had originally chosen to host. Due to illness, she was unable to come to the U.S. but I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Silly as it sounds there was something about her picture that drew me to her so strongly. Maybe it was her smile, her sparkling eyes – it was as though she was “lit from within” – I just had to meet her. Finally in December 2006 I met her. We spent several weeks together over the holidays – there was no doubt, this was my daughter.
I immediately began the paperwork to adopt her and brought her to the U.S. when she was 13, almost 14. She didn’t speak a word of English. The adjustments we made were typical – most of them were Lesya’s – a new school, a new language, new culture. Lesya is now a junior in college – an excellent student, a smart, honest and beautiful person inside and out. I could never imagine my life without her. Special and Forever thanks to Dr. Rosini and his strong network that made this possible. Lesya and I are both eternally grateful.
So our family story began with a haircut, seriously; it was a 9yr old little girl visiting from Ukraine through Frontier Horizon. My husband and I own a hair salon and naturally when a friend mentioned this program, I offered to do a free haircut for an orphan from Ukraine.
Little did I know how much my life would change from that moment on. The way in which this little girl appreciated every movement I made to help her feel relaxed from the shampoo to the blowdry and the vanilla scented finish on her gorgeous hair and it seemed as though she was learning like when I leaned like a dance. My heart was struck by the idea of letting someone like her in to my life and my heart. At the moment I made eye contact with my husband who was working the front end of our salon, and our eyes told each other everything. Lol it was clear we needed to become a part of this organization help where we could and possibly make the choice to host an orphan ourselves.
On October 17, 2010 we received photos of not one but 2 little girls who we could host through this program. They were sisters and were 8 & 9 yrs old. Our hosting journey was to begin December 18th 2010 -January 10 , 2011. They truly had us at "Hello" or as they would say "priviet".
I could write a book about all the details from their first morning in our home to the moment they got back on the plane to go back to Ukraine. But what I can say about all the experiences is :
-it is exciting, like the first movie they watched at a theater where they talked to the film the entire time.
-It's scary, like the moment they cried about something I didn't understand which ended up to be an argument over who gets to take a bath first.
-its exhausting , because I have not had children and did not understand how tired I would feel at the end of every day
-heart wrenching to see what they do without where they come from but still find happiness in simple things
-it's addicting to want to do all you can to fix as much as possible before sending them back.
Which leads to after their return to Ukraine, we did everything within our power to file for adoption as fast as possible to see,those beautiful faces again.
That's all another book for another day. But there is not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for Vinny and an organization like Frontier Horizon who made this all possible.
It all started one day when my phone rang. It was a pastor from my church and he was telling me that there was a group of orphans coming from Ukraine in a couple months and would I be interested in hosting a 12 y/o boy? That was the day I learned about "Frontier Horizon". Well, I said I would get back to him. We had 3 biological sons and one was also 12. After I looked up Ukraine on a map, I discussed it with my husband and we figured it would be an incredible experience for our family.
A few months later we went to pick up our Ukrainian guest. He was a little scrawny kid who was sleeping on the bus just moments earlier. He managed a smile and jumped in our truck. Little did we know how profound that meeting would be.
We immediately adored this child. He was not at all shy. He would ask for "7 eggs" for breakfast and we couldn't keep him in fresh fruit. We took him swimming at the beach, to the pool, to the waterslide park, the amusement park, etc. He was so very gracious. At one point, he asked if he could have a Gameboy. We told him that was kind of a big request and that he could have one if he did a few chores...he was elated and said "Give Me Job" in his limited, but charming English. So, we told him to wash the truck. He quickly did the chore (and did an amazing job) and came running to us and said "Give me more job". We asked him to coil up some rope...again he was on it and did a great job. He came running to us and said "give me more job". At this point we took a look at our bio-kids questioningly and told our "little work horse' that he had earned the Gameboy. He was so happy.
We spent a few weeks and the time passed quickly. The dreaded day came when he was to return to Ukraine. Sergei and I spent most of that day in each others arms sobbing. We didn't want to make any promises to him as we didn't want to hurt him if we couldn't keep our promises. We did tell him that we would do everything we could to help him and that we hoped to see him again.
We toiled for a year going thru the international adoption process (that was the average time it took when we adopted) and finally were reunited with our son, Sergei, 13 months after we sent him back.
Here we are 14 years later. Our son has taught us so much about love and trust. It wasn't always easy but it was always worth it. Sergei is now married and living in upstate NY in his 3rd year of business college. He has come such a long way and through it all, he has touched so many lives with his kindness and gentle spirit.
It's been the most rewarding experience of all of our lives.