As Christians, adoption has always seemed like one of the most natural things we could do. After all, we are the adopted sons and daughters of God. As Christians, we are also charged to aid the orphaned, the hungry, the widowed, and the needy. During our times of prayer, growing our family was placed on our hearts. Despite it seeming like not the best timing, as we had only just moved to Guam for our first assignment with the Air Force and were still fairly young at the time, we trusted that God had a plan for us, so we cast our net wide. During this time, we sent out a pre-application to several Christian adoption agencies that focused on international adoption. (Domestic adoption is not a good fit for us, at the moment, due to our unique place in the military and in Guam).
Shortly before the New Year, we were contacted by one of the adoption agencies underneath the umbrella of agencies we had sent our pre-application to. They had told us that we would be a perfect fit for their Ukraine program, especially taking into consideration how conservative the country was and who Ukraine would prefer to adopt their children. We took a few days to pray about the issue, vetted our thoughts and determined that they were certainly from the Lord and not from us.
With that knowledge in mind, we took the leap of faith and on Steve's 30th birthday, we signed a contract with an agency that works solely with Ukrainian adoptions.
We are currently pursuing a biological sibling group of four, that are all still at the same orphanage! They are 5-year old fraternal twin girls, a 2 1/2 year old boy, and a 15 month-old boy. However, because Ukraine is an independent and blind adoption country, they do not guarantee specific children before you travel there. However, it is highly likely that we'll be able to return with these particular siblings and a letter was sent off ahead of our dossier to help cement that. We will likely be flying to Ukraine later this year and finalizing the adoption a couple of months after our first visit. We are absolutely certain that the Lord has called us to work in Ukraine and are certain He has called us to this particular set of kids.
The initial sticker price is difficult for us though. Since Steve is a Captain in the US Air Force, any future children will already have their healthcare and dental care provided for by the military, a guaranteed lovely home and food covered in advance, and a number of other benefits thanks to Steve's job. Audrey will be able to stay at home with them and work with them intensively on attachment, learning language skills, and catching up on milestones they've likely missed due to the lack of one-on-one attention. She's also planning on home schooling the older girls and getting them involved in the active home schooling community here on Guam. Military service members and their families receive many benefits, but a high salary really isn't one of them.
Crowdfunding an adoption was one of the last things we wanted to do, but in trying to follow what we feel we've been charged with. The youngest boy has only known the inside of an orphanage and his oldest siblings are due to be transferred in the next year, splitting the siblings from seeing one another. We're asking our family, friends and community for help. We realize that this plan is something we cannot do without the Lord’s hand in it, and continuously pray that He will pave the way. We purposely put a deadline of September 1st on this fund, as that is the time we hope to have everything in hand in time for our travel date when the big bulk of our expenses (foreign program fees) are due.
Also, if we happen to have anything left over, the remainder will be donated to aiding Ukrainian orphans and potentially helping to sponsor one of the them for adoption, so that other American families can also follow that same calling of adoption. Please check out our blog for information on orphans in Ukraine, and the conditions in which they are currently living. Every single penny that is donated will go to help this mission we feel so charged about.
So please... please help us bring our kids home. We want to keep these biological siblings together and can't wait to show them true, unconditional love and care. We can't wait to provide more updates on them!
Thank you in advance for your time, your prayers, your moral support and your financial support!
Stephan and Audrey Ryder