Every adoption story is beautiful, redemptive and unique. Throughout the next weeks I’ll be blogging about events and things that transpired in the years, months, weeks and moments leading to the unforgettable day our daughter finally joined our family forever. Before I do that, I wanted to share the overview of our #UkraineToTexas timeline & adoption story:
1993: Even before we married we talked of adoption and knew that someday we would bring children home who (although they weren’t biologically ours) were destined to be in our family.
1995: We celebrated a beautiful, storybook wedding in March of 1995. As a young married woman I struggled with and grieved over my infertility issues. Whether we had biological children some day or not, my husband and I never doubted that we would adopt, and continued to have conversations about what that looked like for us.
2001-2002: After seven years of marriage, many doctor visits, surgery for endometriosis and still no pregnancy, our adoption plans began in earnest, and we began to research domestic adoption agencies, with the prospects of bringing home a toddler.
2003: Adoption plans came to a halt when we were married eight years and a miracle happened. My deep desire to become a mother came to pass when I became pregnant God and gave us a beautiful and perfect daughter! She is a gift from Heaven – a delight to us and many others. As soon as she could begin to grasp the concept of adoption, we explained to her that she would have an adopted brother or sister someday.
2005: When our daughter was two, those adoption plans were dusted off and things began in earnest. We began to pray regularly, and seek God regarding His plans for our adoption.
2006: During my devotions early on the morning of June 25, 2006, I had a vision of a little girl in a blue barrel. I knew two things: she was our future daughter, and she was somewhere in Eastern Europe. We began to pray for her – that God would protect and keep her, reveal His love to her, bring people into her life to show Jesus to her, and bring her home to us some day.
2010: We visited the Together For Adoption conference in Austin, TX, with our pastor Jason Johnson, and a group of adoption minded families from our church. During that conference God confirmed to us that the girl we were praying for was in Ukraine, and we began looking at agencies who could facilitate our adoption from that country.
Adoption plans were put on hold when a close family member experienced a serious illness.
2013: We knew we had to get this adoption process back on track. We asked family and friends if they knew anyone who had adopted from Ukraine. My aunt Rachel connected us with friends of hers at Ukrainian Resource Center. We decided to host nine-year old Luba that summer, through the program they had in place. We had a life changing summer with Luba, and desperately wanted to adopt her. But she did not want to leave Ukraine, and chose to stay at the orphanage instead of coming to a new family in America. (Insert our heartbreak here.) Our family was greatly affected during Luba’s time with us, and we had a completely new understanding of this thing called “Orphan Care”.
We continued to pray for our future daughter.
2014: Our family’s adoption plans began in earnest. We decided to host another girl, but were having considerable difficulty during our family’s deliberations of who that girl should be. We were not planning to host or adopt anyone older than our biological daughter who was then ten years old, until another miraculous dream (this time from my sister in Virginia) confirmed that God had chosen (then 15 year old) Anastasia for our family. We immediately began the adoption process (even before she came to visit) and began communicating with her via a dear friend who served children at her school in Ukraine.
In the summer of 2014 Anastasia came to America for a six-week hosting program trip, facilitated by Ukrainian Resource Center. Meeting her for the first time was an incredible experience. We shared a memorable summer with her, and celebrated her sixteenth birthday with family and friends. She had to go back to the orphanage in Ukraine until adoption paperwork was complete, and left in late July.
We finally received our notice from Ukraine’s State Department of Adoption that our appointment date was on December 15th of 2014, and we made a one week trip to Ukraine in mid-December. We returned to America to wait for our formal adoption court date.
2015: Word of our court date came in early January, and we traveled back a second time to formally adopt Anastasia on January 15, 2015, in a small courtroom inside a run down ex-Soviet government building in South East Ukraine.
We arrived home with our daughter on February 7, 2015, one month before our twentieth wedding anniversary.
As for what’s happening now: We know this is just the beginning, we’re settling into our new “normal”, and we look forward to the rest of the story God has written for our family!
Thank you for the love, prayers, financial support and countless other ways you’ve blessed and served our family over the years. You are part of this story, and it would not look the same without you.
~ Justina Dee