For our family and friends who are considering supporting our journey, I feel it’s important to share our story and hope you’ll share it with others. This is a story of two very different people who found each other 6 years ago, found God together, and began living their lives (or trying) to glorify Him in all ways possible. We're not perfect and it's not easy by any means but we are constantly striving to live our lives for Christ, living out the calling and purpose He has placed in our paths, and want to give the glory to God for this adoption decision. We look back on our lives today and could have never predicted our future. In June of 2016, Brandon lost his job which prompted a sudden move to northern Iowa where we now reside in Clear Lake. At the time, we were in the middle of planning our wedding and were not anticipating a move. This move led us in search of a new church family… where we ended was Grace Church in Mason City. The same day we walked into that church, we met a couple who invited us to their small group that evening. We met our friend Laura in this small group, who is a missionary and lived for many years in Ukraine. One day several months later, Laura asked me (Kelsey) to go on a mission trip – something that had been on my heart for many years… but Ukraine?! We weren’t even sure where the country was at! But I began making plans anyway with the Ukraine church team to go on this trip. Brandon was not planning on going until a couple months after the planning process and right before we were about to book our flights, a pastor from Grace who has adopted two children from Haiti talked with him about going. At this point, I was completely overjoyed that Brandon decided to go – never in a million years did I think he’d be willing to do something like this, as my heart is (or was) much more for serving children than Brandon's. But, I was so excited and shocked in unbelief! I began praying that this trip would plant a seed in Brandon’s heart for adoption. It was something I had asked him about when we got married, but really wasn’t sure if was also on his heart. Little did I know, God answered my prayers and not only planted a seed, but grew a flower in Brandon’s heart for these children. I remember seeing tears in Brandon’s eyes the day we were leaving the orphanage and saying our goodbyes. We had both completely fallen in love with these children and our hearts had grown x10 for the children in orphanages in Ukraine.
After returning from Ukraine, we wrestled with the decision and still wanted to have our own, but could not ignore the path that led us to these children in Ukraine. Beyond all of the life changes that led us to Grace, in December, a few weeks prior to leaving on this trip, I had a chemical pregnancy. Something that is more common than I realized. At that time, we were trusting in God's timing. We remember thinking, "we'll try when we get back". What we’ve come to understand is that sometimes our plan is not God’s plan and that in our hearts we can plan our course but the Lord establishes our steps. We have decided to take a huge step out in faith and put our own biological children on hold, trust, and move forward with the adoption process and pursue adopting three siblings — two of which we met and spent time with in Ukraine. This trip not only had a huge imprint on our hearts but it has really impacted and strengthened our faith.
Although, we were planning on having our own, we were not planning on adopting THREE children at once into our family. God had other plans and still hope to have our own down the line, if that's in His plan and His will for our future family. He has given us so much excitement to adopt after spending time with these children and experiencing life in a Ukrainian orphanage and culture. While staying at Pishana the 4 days / 3 nights a person really gets to become a part of their lives for that time. You eat breakfast where they eat, you do group activities, you do classroom studies, you eat lunch with them, you play games inside / outside, watched movies and we made cool airplane craft things that fly around the gym. These kids just want to be normal kids, even though most of them have a disability of some sort. There wasn’t an arcade room where everyone sits on the couch and plays play station all day. These kids are growing up exactly how Brandon grew up on the farm. They don’t have much, so they have to use their imagination to play. It was so cool to see those imaginations wander while we were doing crafts. Reflection on our wonderful, fun-filled time with the kids at the orphanage was quickly overshadowed though when you realize these kids don’t get a normal chance at life, especially being from a special needs orphanage in Ukraine. We have a home that we can give these kids and a chance at a future they won’t get in Ukraine. We are excited to one day welcome these sweet siblings into our home in Iowa, wrap our arms around them, love them, become "mother" and "father", and hopefully give them a life they could have never experienced together in Ukraine.
As for some background, there are over 100,000 orphans in the country of Ukraine which is the size of Texas. The government plans to do away with orphanages in the next 10+ years. Where will these children go? Most children age out of orphanages in Ukraine at age 15, are very developmentally behind and either commit suicide, become homeless, prostitutes, alcoholics, addicted to drugs, or criminals and end up in prison. That's something we could not let happen to these children.... and we hope you can help us through support and/or prayers.
So! All of that being said, we have started the adoption process! It takes anywhere from 1-2 years (we’re hoping about a year but really unsure) and costs likely anywhere from $45,000 - $55,000. We’re working with CCAI for our adoption agency and America World Adoption for our home study agency. The majority of the money will be used for:
· Application fees for both agencies
· Program fees
· Home study & post adoption costs
· Ukrainian facilitator costs ($20,000 alone for 3 children)
· Travel costs for three trips to Ukraine (the last of which could be 2-4 weeks or longer) -- this includes three round-trip plane tickets for Brandon/Kelsey, three one-way plane tickets for kids coming home, and accommodations + meals for three trips
We are so grateful for any and all support we receive, as this will not be possible without raising support. Financial gifts, prayers, and sharing the fundraiser with friends are appreciated. It’s not easy for us to ask for help but this was something not in our current plan. We have seen God provide in big ways and believe if this is His plan for us, he will continue to do so. We are going to be doing a couple other fundraisers in addition to this page but wanted to have this here for those who chose to donate this way. Thank you in advance for donating, supporting us, buying a t-shirt, helping, sharing our story, and/or praying from the bottom of our hearts! “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
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