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The Herald Weekly: Local couple seeks support, funds for adoption

November 8, 2011, 14:15 3158 Author: Alan Hodge www.huntersvilleherald.com Ukrainian teens Anatoliy and Ivan spent the summer in the Lake Norman area. Now, a Huntersville family wants to make them permanent

Ukrainian teens Anatoliy (left) and Ivan spent the summer in the Lake Norman area. Now, a Huntersville family wants to make them permanent. (Courtesy of Lisa Givens)

If Lisa and Matt Givens of Huntersville can plow through acres of beaurecratic red tape, and also come up with a considerable amount of cash, then two teenage brothers won’t ever have to spend another long, cold, winter in the Ukraine.

The boys, 15-year-old Ivan and 13-year-old Anatoliy, were hosted by the Givens family back in July through a program known as New Horizons for Children where orphans from the Ukraine are hosted by American families.

Ivan and Anatoliy currently live in an orphanage in the Zaporozhye region of the Ukraine.

“When orphans turn 16 in the Ukraine they are turned out into the streets,” Lisa said. “The New Horizons program lets them have a chance to meet American families in hopes a bond will form and they will be adopted.”

Times have been hard enough already for Ivan and Anatoliy even without the possibility of being ousted from the orphanage. Growing up, they were abused by their alcoholic parents. It’s been more than five years since they last saw their family.

During their stay at the Givens home the brothers became fast friends with their kids, 10-year-old Ryan, 7-year-old Alex, and 5-year old William. They also touched Lisa and Matt’s heart.

“Originally, we just intended to show Ivan and Anatoliy a great summer,” Lisa said. “But in the process a bond grew between them and us.”

In early August, the dream holiday for Ivan and Anatoliy came to an end and they had to return to the orphanage-, but their memory lingered in Huntersville.

The decision to adopt the orphans seemed like a great idea, but little did the Givenses know what obstacles they would soon face.

The list of requirements to adopt Ivan and Anatoliy started with determining if they were even on the official Ukraine Orphan Registry. Then there were medical tests and forms to be filled out to satisfy Ukrainian officials that Lisa and Matt were in good health and free from disease. More red tape came in the form of a document generated by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service known as the I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

As for Ivan and Anatoliy’s education, the Givenses had to apply for permission to home school them.

The cost to jump through the Ukrainian and U.S. government adoption hoops isn’t cheap. Lisa says the I-600 forms cost $895 alone. There will also be air fare, money for translators, fees for “facilitators” in the Ukraine who help in court, adoption agency fees, and lots more. The fee for a home school background check was $1,500.

“Everyone gets a piece,” Lisa said.

Even if everything goes smoothly, it could be February 2012 before Ivan and Anatoliy finally come home to Huntersville for good.

To help defray some of the enormous costs associated with the adoption, friends of the Givens family will be having a fundraiser November 5 from 6:30pm to 10:30pm at the Historic Ranson House, 412 Old Statesville Rd., in Huntersville. Tickets to the event will be $100 per couple, with the cost tax deductible. There will be a silent auction and raffle with items such as restaurant gift cards, tickets to the Nutcracker ballet, a Renaissance Festival ticket package, rental of a cottage on Lake Norman, and more.

Donations can also be made online. For more details about the family and its mission, go to www.giftof2.org

Happy Child foundation - effective help to the most needy children of the Zaporozhye region, Ukraine, since 2004

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Polina Belogurova

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