Guest Religion Column by George Popko-
In what sounded like a script for a suspense-filled, emotional film, a young Ukrainian-American couple shared their recent story of adopting two children from tumultuous Ukraine, during a speaking engagement at Reality Church in Citrus Heights last week.
Roman and Krystyna Kravchuk began their story by explaining how they found out Krystyna would be unable to conceive, and how they started a blog to share their experience on the sensitive topic of infertility and adoption.
“I thought about how God can answer our prayers, and we believed we might still be able to conceive miraculously,” Krystyna recalled, after hearing the news from her doctor.
But before things got better, they took a turn for the worse. Doctors told her that she also had diabetes and would be vulnerable to heart disease and other health conditions.
“The doctor told us [the] other time he saw a case this bad, the patient had cancer,” said Krystyna, candidly admitting the additional diagnosis caused them to feel they were at the end of their rope.
When Krystyna had to undergo surgery, they knew there was no longer a possibility for having their own children through natural birth, and their faith was challenged like never before.
“Sometimes God brings you through trials you couldn’t possibly get through to show his power and plan,” said Roman. But little did they know, their trials were only beginning, as they would face more difficulties.
The couple shared that after significant prayer and consideration, they eventually felt led by God to pursue adoption.
Roman, 28, and his wife, 25, spoke of how their first attempt at domestic adoption tragically resulted in the loss of a newborn baby from a woman named Nicole who had agreed to give up her child for adoption.
“Christians also question God in difficult circumstances, but we always have a choice of whether to trust Him or turn away from Him when we don’t understand,” Roman shared, recalling the disappointment after all the paperwork, anticipation and preparation. “At this time He seemed far to us, but was actually always there.”
Krystyna then shared about how she began trying to start a program of Orphan Hosting in her church – a ministry where orphans from other countries come to stay at homes in the United States for a period of time. But this attempt also didn’t work out, as she soon found out it was too late to host that year, due to a long paperwork process.
About that time though, she was informed about a boy from that year’s group of orphans from Donetsk, Ukraine, who was eager to come to a family in America, but would be likely left behind due to sponsor financial difficulties. Touched with compassion, she asked if there was anything they could do to help him – but with only a few hours left, and a mountain of complicated paperwork, it seemed impossible.
That’s when she told her husband, who informed her that he had just received the exact amount of money needed, and they also found they already had all the necessary adoption paperwork from their previous failed attempt. Believing a miracle had happened – they were assured this was their answer from God. After calling back a shocked agency representative, the 10-year-old orphan, Andrey, was soon on the way to their home for four weeks.
Although somewhat unused to being called “mommy” and “daddy” at first, by the time Andrey was to return to Ukraine, the couple had fallen in love with him and began the process of permanent international adoption.
Two trips to Ukraine later, their prayers would be finally answered — but not with some more trials and surprises.
They soon discovered Andrey had a 3-year-old sister who was also living at the orphanage, and the couple decided to adopt both of them.
However, about this time, chaos had started breaking out in that region of Ukraine, as pro-Russian separatists began violently taking over government buildings. Close acquaintances advised the couple not to attempt a trip, but trusting God would protect them, the couple made their last trip to Donetsk — about three miles from where 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers were stationed for defense.
Just a few hours after the couple left the airport with Andrey and Katya, it was besieged by the pro-Russian forces.
On May 2, 2014, Andrey and Katya made it to the United States, with Roman and Krystyna having reunited the brother and sister, along with giving them a new home. Their tumultuous adoption experience had ended, and their parenting experience would now begin.
“Tears of joy streamed down my face as I saw the people who have prayed, hoped and cried with us during this journey,” wrote Krystyna on her blog, just days after arriving back in America. “What a beautiful memory this will be for us to cherish!”
The couple continues to blog about their experience as parents of adopted children, and hopes their story will encourage others to persevere through the often-difficult process of adoption and parenthood.
On the Net:
The Kravchuk’s blog can be visited online at: http://www.withopenheartsandopenarms.blogspot.com/