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Jacksonville family adopts two Ukrainian children

January 27, 2006, 0:00 3912 Author: April Barbe Daily Progress, Jacksonville, Texas

Three-year-old Valerie and her baby brother, Casey, sat on a park bench in the Ukraine, in the cold — alone.

On a Thursday night in Jacksonville recently, Valerie and Casey, now almost 5 and 3, sat at a table with their two new brothers, and “Papa” and “Mama.”

Shawn and Rachelle Coughlin left Jacksonville Dec. 5 for a trip to the Ukraine, which would change life as they and their sons knew it.

“We arrived Dec. 8 at the National Adoption Center in Kyiv (Ukraine),” Rachelle said. “They brought some big notebooks in for us to look through with pictures and sheets containing medical information and birth dates, if available.”

Shawn said he has always wanted to adopt children, even though the couple already have two sons of their own — Connor, 6, and Cooper, 3.

“I think we feel like this is something that God would want us to do,” Shawn said.

Shawn and Rachelle spent the last 15 months in the adoption process, and Sean even studied Russian for a year.

“The woman who worked at the jewelry department at Sears in Tyler was from the Ukraine, and Shawn took lessons from her for a year,” Rachelle said. “I was too busy, but now necessity breeds it.”

Valerie and Casey were visited about two weeks before the Coughlins arrived in the town of Zaporizhzhya (a 45-minute plane ride from Kyiv) by another possible Papa and Mama, but the couple decided not to proceed with the adoptions, Rachelle said.

Since the man who accompanied them from the Sense Resource (Adoption) Center knew of the previous visit, he was able to assure the Coughlins that both Valerie and Casey were healthy. Therefore, they decided to meet them.

They met Casey on the first afternoon they were in town. He was located at an orphanage inside the city with other orphans ranging in age from infant to almost 4.

“Casey was very outgoing,” Rachelle said. “He came right to us.”

The next day, they met Valerie. Valerie was a little more apprehensive about the meeting. However, she warmed up to her new parents quickly, Rachelle said.

And the rest is history. The Coughlins finished necessary paperwork and returned to Jacksonville on Jan. 7 with two new additions to their family.

The Coughlins took $2,000 in donations with them, mostly from members of Central Baptist Church, to the orphanages, and the money was used to buy a variety of necessities, including beds and bedding.

When the couple and their two new children arrived back in town, there was a surprise waiting for them. Members of the church and various friends had filled their pantry and refrigerator with food, left toys for Valerie and Casey, put presents under the Christmas tree and raked the leaves.

Shawn kept an online journal (Blog) about the adoption process, and on the family’s first night back in Jacksonville, he made a heartfelt entry.

“The hectic pace and emotions of the day prevented me from going to sleep with everyone else,” Shawn wrote. “As I walked through a quiet house with toys and dolls everywhere, I wondered why I had been chosen to receive such a blessing as the family that God has given me.

“I went to each of kids’ rooms and watched them sleep as I tried to imagine how I could ever thank God enough for the gifts I had been given. And then there is Rachelle.

“Rachelle, who followed me through this when I had this crazy idea of adopting two children thousands of miles away. Rachelle, who has endured my ranting and raving during this trip and who has been the victim of my mood swings when she was the only one around to here me complain.

“As much as I love my children, I love Rachelle even more, and she is the best mother and wife a man could wish for.”

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