In the fall of 2007, brothers V. and V. waited in an orphanage in the Russian Far East. Just 5 and 6 years old, they had spent the last two years of their short lives in a government-run institution without the security of a permanent family. 4,700 miles away, Darrell and Kathy K awaited a call from their adoption agency, WACAP, letting them know they had been invited on their second trip to Russia to bring their boys home.
Darrell and Kathy originally applied to Russia hoping to adopt siblings, a baby and a child under the age of 6-years. Kathy hoped for a girl. But when they traveled on their first trip to Russia, they were met with disappointment.
"The first children we were matched were not a good fit," says Kathy. "It was very hard, very discouraging, but I remembered we had talked to our social worker, MaryAnn, and she said "don't rule anything out." They kept this in mind when they met their next possible matches, V and V.
Although the boys were outside of the age parameters the K family had hoped for and not the children they'd originally pictured for their family, they were a perfect fit. "At first I had mixed feelings because I was so set on a girl," says Kathy, "but it just felt right. It was amazing." Shortly after meeting them, Darrell and Kathy accepted V and V, as their sons.
While the K family returned to the U.S. to wait as paperwork was prepared for court in Russia, the boys wrote letters to their parents hoping they could be together for the holidays.
Hello, dear Mom and Dad!
We received your letter, our caretaker read it to us. We also miss you, think about you often, we are looking forward for your coming again.
Our daily routine is ok: we learn poems, play toys which you gave us, study mathematics. We often look at the pictures in the album you sent. We liked the house, we are happy that we will have our own room, books and toys.
We wonder if you have snow in winter and how you celebrate Christmas and New Year's Day. We want to celebrate New Year's Day with you, in our family.
We love you very much.
V and V
Their wish came true. On December 26, 2007, Darrell, Kathy, and their sons walked into a Russian courtroom and finalized their adoption. "It was the 26 in Russia, but it was still the 25 back home," remembers Kathy. "To me it was definitely a Christmas gift."
Over the next several weeks, the family got to spend the rest of the holidays together in Russia. "That was really special," says Kathy. "It was a huge part of our transition as a family. We were invited to participate in the holidays at the orphanage. We got to see our boys recite a poem to Father Frost on the Russian New Year to get their gifts. We were really glad they were there to do that."
Now, the traditions the K family learned in Russia are some they hope to keep alive as their sons celebrate their first holiday season at home. "It's sad to see how much they have forgotten," says Kathy. "We don't want them to lose that." Darrell agrees. "One tradition we want to carry on is having them do some sort of saying before they get their gifts," he says. "We want to celebrate Russian New Year with them." The family also plans to stress the importance of being together. "We feel really blessed and we couldn't be happier with our boys" says Kathy. "Gift-giving isn't as big in Russia as it is in the United States, and we want that to stay true. Things are not important. It's family that's important, and we feel so lucky to celebrate together!"
To encourage the adoption of waiting children in Russia, and as long as funds remain available WACAP will offer to eligible families a Promise Child grant in the amount of $6,000 for their adoption of the following types of children who are waiting:
- A boy 5 years or older at time of referral (with special needs)
- Sibling groups of two that include a child at least age 7* (sibling fee will be required for children under 7)
- Deaf child at least 5 years of age or older (with special needs)
For more information, contact FamilyFinders@Wacap.org