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Currently in the midst of the arduous international adoption process, only finances stand in the way of reuniting Ruslan with the Kochies’, the only family he has ever known. contributed
Bill and Karen Kochies never thought about adoption, but with the introduction of Ruslan, a Ukrainian orphan, into their family during a host family visit this past summer, the Kochies family knew there was an emptiness in their lives. Currently in the midst of the arduous international adoption process, only finances stand in the way of reuniting Ruslan with the Kochies’, the only family he has ever known.
“We never had fertility problems with our son, Mason, so adoption was never something we thought about. [But] Ruslan stayed with us for three weeks through an orphan hosting program with Redline United, and when he left, we knew our family wasn’t complete,” Karen explains.
Bill and Karen Kochies with their son Mason and their soon to be adopted son Ruslan. contributed
Members of Hope Community Church, Bill and Karen were drawn to the hosting program through an information table about Redline United and the orphan exchange programs they provide. Picking a host child from only simple photos, Bill and Karen were eager to host Ruslan. UNICEF statistics show that for Ukrainian orphans, 70 percent of the boys will lead a life of crime or be imprisoned, 60 percent of the girls will end up involved in prostitution, and 10 percent of the children will eventually commit suicide. After learning about the future Ruslan would have if he stayed at the orphanage in Ukraine, Bill and Karen fundraised $2,500 to bring Ruslan to America through the hosting program.
“[Ruslan] was discarded at birth, and he has spent his entire life in the orphanage, a communal institution, with no privacy,” Karen states. While Ruslan has been up for adoption the majority of his life, the Kochies say that because of his cleft palate and obvious speech impediments he is seen as an undesirable in the orphanage. “He is an orphan in an orphanage, pretty much. He’s a little boy, all alone, and the world has forgotten him,” Bill comments.
However, for three weeks this past summer, the Kochies family opened their home to Ruslan. Citing memories of a beach trip, bubble baths, long car rides, and bedtimes, Karen’s most poignant memory of Ruslan’s visit was one where she realized the connection she and her family had made with Ruslan in a mere three weeks. “A couple of days before Ruslan was set to head back to Ukraine, he started packing up his clothes and all the little treasures he had collected while he was here. We both ended up crying and I eventually said, ‘people can take away anything you bring back [to the orphanage] but they can’t take away the love we have for you’,’’ Karen explains.
Upon Ruslan’s return to Ukraine, Bill and Karen immediately began fundraising on his behalf to advocate for another family to adopt him. “We had no initial intentions of adopting. We didn’t want to send him back because we viewed him as our son, but we also didn’t want to jump into something based off of emotion. But then, all of sudden, I asked myself, ‘why aren’t we adopting him?’’’ Bill said.
After deciding to adopt Ruslan, both Bill and Karen received unwavering support. Over the past seven months, the Kochies family has submitted all of their adoption credentials to the Ukrainian government and wait their court date to determine when they can appeal for Ruslan’s adoption and bring him home to North Carolina. Despite the overwhelming support from family and friends, finances were the only obstacles that stood in their way.
“The financial aspect of this project was so scary and so daunting. The estimate we were given for adopting Ruslan is between $36,000-$40,000, but because of the relationship we built with Ruslan, we knew this addition to our family is priceless,” Karen says.
Over the past seven months, the Kochies family has raised over $19,000 dollars through various fundraisers, including: Z Pizza nights, selling candles, t-shirts, coffee, having two yard sales, and much more. Even their 7-year-old son, Mason, joined the effort and held a lemonade stand to bring his brother home from Ukraine.
“The support we have had since making our decision to adopt has been amazing, but we still have a lot left to fundraise, about $20,000,” Bill stated. With only finances standing in the way of completing their family, Karen states, “It’s hard to know that it’s just money in the way of bringing Ruslan home to be together as a family and start making memories to last a lifetime.”
However, both Bill and Karen are optimistic and headstrong as their fundraising efforts continue and grow. Sharing every step of the adoption process on their blog, www.hope4ruslan.blogspot.com, as Bill and Karen push through the last few steps of the adoption process, their efforts are seen. Upcoming fundraisers for Ruslan include: Monkey Joe’s Night on Thursday, April 5 from 4-7 p.m., and a Flashlight Adult Egg-Hunt on Friday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m., held at 4021 Gumleaf Drive, Apex, NC. Fifty percent of admissions cost as well as 25 percent of concessions costs from the Monkey Joe’s Night will go towards Ruslan’s adoption as well donations given at the Flashlight Egg-Hunt, where a minimum of $20 donation is accepted to participate. And, according to Bill and Karen, the easiest way to get involved is to make a tax-deductible donation to Redline United online at http://www.redlineunited.org/donate/familyassistance-2/, and indicate the donation to be made for Ruslan.
With so much success in fundraising thus far through word of mouth, the Kochies family has found many throughout the world that support them and Ruslan. “Not only our community, but the national and international community has come together for him, and he has so many people that love him. This experience has truly opened my eyes to the fact that no amount of help is too small, everything compounds quickly,” Karen stated.
For more information about the Kochies family, their journey through the international adoption process and ways to help, read their blog, www.hope4ruslan.blogspot.com, contact them directly at email@example.com or call (919)-270-8097.
The Kochies family hopes to bring Ruslan home in time for his tenth birthday on June 25. “The tentative date that we have to bring him home is right before his birthday, and Mason’s birthday is June 28. Hopefully, that week will be a big celebration,” Bill states. “He has changed our lives so much, and I just can’t wait for the moment when we can walk out of the orphanage together and tell him he never has to go back.”