The Full Story (of Igor, Forever & Ever.)
Look who it is!!
An online friend I met through the hosting group (Children’s Cultural Connection) arrived at Igor’s orphanage to adopt her summer host siblings. She posted this picture of Igor for me. He was on his way to school this morning when they got there.
All of the kids in Ukraine dress up in suits and white shirts for school. It’s part of their culture.
Igor looks so happy! I’m not sure if they told him who the picture was for or not. My friend did say she would try to tell Igor we plan on hosting him again. We’re technically not allowed to talk about adoption with the kids because it can lead to major disappointment if someone promises them they will be adopted and then it falls through.
However things with Igor’s situation are a little more complicated since his mom has to relinquish her rights, so I’m not really sure how we’ll work that out this summer and in the future. Time will tell, I guess.
It’s hard to be patient, but this sweet boy just keeps on coming back into our lives!
Do you all remember the whole entire story?
Fall of 2012: We planned to host a beautiful 11 year old girl named Anna. Our friends helped us fundraise the costs. We were all set!
Then her region was suddenly no longer open for hosting, so we had to choose a different child. We chose a little boy, but a few weeks later we found out his orphanage didn’t want to participate in hosting after all.
What kind of luck is this, we wondered. Every child we pick ends up not able to come?
With less children left on the hosting list to pick from we chose a nine year old boy that we would have otherwise looked over.
Shortly after making all of the payments for hosting I found out I was pregnant. Hosting during horrible morning sickness did not sound ideal, but we decided to do it anyway.
Finally the time came, and we met Igor! We first met him in a hotel lobby because, well to make a long story short there was a snow storm and a cancelled flight, and the kids ended up cramming into a van and driving for hours through the bad weather to get to Kentucky. It was more than a little crazy.
Tyler was at work, so my dad went with me to pick up Igor because I was too sick from the pregnancy to feel like going alone. We ended up spending the night in the hotel parking lot waiting for them to show up.
Finally they made it right around dawn.
The first thing Igor said was, “Hi my name eez Igor.” Then he gave me a shy smile and didn’t speak to us again for hours.
Igor and Rosie hit it off right away. Rosie took this picture on of the first nights.
We had a difficult time at first. It wasn’t all roses and kisses. Igor spent several hours each night laying in bed facing the wall screaming at the top of his lungs, sobbing, hyperventilating, sweating, and refusing to let anyone touch him.
If I tried to cuddle him he would stiffen and shake all over and freak out.
Of course being the most stubborn human being on earth I would not give up so easily. ;)
After nights of patiently laying next to him for hours while he cried and panicked that wall magically broke down. Something changed.
The wall was replaced by trust, and then love, and maybe even a feeling of safety.
I don’t really know how to describe to you what it feels like to go through this process, other than to say it’s heart wrenching and led only by faith, hope, and love.
At this point in our lives we weren’t prepared to adopt. Not only that, Igor was ALL boy. During the day he was hyper and literally climbing our walls! I remember he would randomly shove toys and things right in our faces and wave them around, do flips off of the furniture, yell in our faces, and generally act obnoxious.
Looking back I think a lot of that behavior was due to anxiety, but at the time we were just trying to get through each day with sanity intact! We thought maybe he would be better off in a family with other boys to burn off that energy, or maybe with a more active family in general.
It felt sad and wrong, but Tyler was sure that we couldn’t adopt right now and we owed it to Igor to try and find him a perfect family since it couldn’t be us.
The adoption agency that had done our home safety check knew of a family who had adopted several boys from Korea and they were interested in meeting Igor. They wanted to have Igor over to their house to spend the weekend so they could get to know him.
I’m not going to lie–we were a little grateful for the break from all of his energy!
Once he was gone we just sat on the couch. It was so quiet.
But the interested family called and said Igor wasn’t doing well at their house. He was aggressive towards their sons, and when they took him to a birthday party he stood in the corner and shook and cried the whole time. They wanted to drop him back off at our house early.
He was so happy to see us. He ran into our arms!
With only a week of hosting left to go we were faced with the thought of sending this awesome kid back to the orphanage. We wanted to at least have some hope for his future, so we continued looking for a family interested in adoption. The agency put us in touch with another family who had a son younger than Igor, also adopted from Ukraine. They were interested in starting a second adoption.
On Igor’s birthday we met up with them at a local Ukrainian cafe. They liked Igor, and so we spent the next week letting them get to know each other.
Tyler and his parents drove Igor to Atlanta to go back to the airport. Everyone cried, it was horrible and heartbreaking to say goodbye to him.
That following summer the new family hosted Igor. It seemed like maybe he didn’t bond with them quite the same way as he did with us. He fought with their son, and he seemed ready to go back home to Ukraine by the end of hosting. I think he had a fun summer though.
Shortly after returning to Ukraine the family found out something wasn’t in order with his paperwork, and he couldn’t be adopted after all. They were crushed, and so were we. We thought we’d never see him again. They went on to adopt a cute little boy from an Asian country instead.
Igor was transferred to a different orphanage, and that was the end of the story.
November 2013: We got an email saying that Igor had been found at a different orphanage in his region.
We could host him if we came up with the full amount in about a week’s time.
We had absolutely no hesitations in saying yes. Our whole family was thrilled.
Then an online friend very, very generously donated the full amount. :)
And so the story continued instead of ending…
December 2013: Igor almost didn’t make it onto the airplane to come for hosting! We got word that he had some kind of episode at the airport where he turned pale and passed out. They thought something was medically wrong with him. The facilitator decided to shove him on the plane at the last minute.
Tyler picked Igor up at the airport in Indianapolis. I think it was a life changing moment. Igor was incredibly happy to see him. Igor seemed perfectly healthy. We think he had a panic attack at the airport. Going across the ocean, not knowing where he’s headed or who he will be with until they give him a welcome letter on the airplane must have been so scary for him.
Igor fit back into our family like a missing puzzle piece.
The night before we had to send him back to Ukraine was awful. Igor told us he loved us, but he had to go back to Ukraine because that’s where his mother is.
He sobbed his heart out in bed at the hotel that night, but unlike the last year when he cried in bed and wouldn’t let us near him, this time he welcome our hugs.
We put him on an airplane back to a country at war with a completely uncertain future. Then we went back home empty handed and wondered if we would ever see our boy again.
We sent him back to Ukraine with an old iPod touch, hoping he could communicate with us. And it worked! We talked with him often up until last spring when the iPod got broken.
Summer 2014: The time came for summer hosting and we hoped to host Igor, but he wasn’t able to come. His mom didn’t want him to come to America again. We were sad, but thought maybe it was a sign that we should move on. We chose two siblings to host, and we had a crazy and meaningful summer with them. The kids weren’t available for adoption at all, and Tyler decided we needed a long break from hosting unless it was Igor, but Igor was no longer an option, so…
Several families went to the orphanage to adopt their host children over the summer and all of them reported that Igor wasn’t there. He spent the summer at home with his mom and older siblings.
Winter of 2014: We didn’t host any children and took that much needed break Tyler requested. We also didn’t plan to host this summer either. Until…
March 2015: A local friend happened to see a picture of Igor listed with an adoption agency. They had posted the picture on their Facebook page as part of their newly formed Ukrainian hosting program. Our friend immediately recognized Igor (by his funny eyebrows!) and sent us the picture.
Our jaws hit. the. floor.
Our boy always comes back to us, doesn’t he?
Since then we’ve learned that Igor’s mom was disabled, likely in a car accident when Igor was young. Igor’s older siblings care for her, but they live in poverty. His siblings are in their 20’s. Igor had an older brother who aged out of the orphanage system when he turned 16 and he is now in prison at age 18.
Prison, suicide, organized crime, and the sex slave trade are the futures that await the majority of 16 year old Ukrainian orphans when they are turned out of the orphanage doors on “graduation day” every August. Many of the kids are social orphans, like Igor. Their families are unable to care for them due to extreme poverty, lack of social services, a high rate of alcoholism, or jail time.
According to Igor, his mother says she will give up her rights to a suitable family. She wants him to be hosted this summer, and she has given her official permission. Igor says that he very much wants to be adopted Maybe his mom sees that her son will have a better future that way. It would be the hardest decision ever for a parent to make. There’s a saying that adoption is born from heartache. We want Igor and his mother to know that should she decide to do that we are more than ready to be his family. No more orphanage life. Full meals every day. Love and compassion on a daily basis. And most of all a future away from war and poverty…
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:12-13 Message Version)