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With Open Arms

July 9, 2007, 5:15 3694 Jamestown Post Journal, NY Stephen and Melissa Eimers, former Jamestown residents, have recently applied to the country of Ukraine to adopt three young children. The Eimers, who now reside in the Knoxville, Tenn., a suburb of Lenoir City, currently have three biological daughters

The Eimers family, as it presently stands, poses for a photo. They hope to add three children to their family through adoption. Clockwise from left are Melissa; Stephen; Hannah, age 7; Annette, age5; and Ivy, age 2.

Former Area Residents Look To Adopt From Ukraine

Stephen and Melissa Eimers, former Jamestown residents, have recently applied to the country of Ukraine in Eastern Europe to adopt three young children. The Eimers, who now reside in the Knoxville, Tenn., a suburb of Lenoir City, currently have three biological daughters — Hannah, Annette and Ivy.

Upon completion of this adoption, they will double the size of their family. The Eimers began this process in December 2006 after several years of ‘‘talking about’’ adopting.

They hope that the adoption process will be complete by the end of 2007, but geo-politics could speed up the process to this summer or even delay it indefinitely.

The Eimers have laid out several objectives they hoped to accomplish with this adoption. They include:

- To expand their family and parent these new children as if they were their own biological children.

- To change the entire earthly and eternal destiny of these children.

- To raise awareness of the need for adoption for the 143,000,000 orphaned children in the world.

Ukraine is a former Soviet Republic in Eastern Europe near the Black Sea and is most famous for being the location of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. It has a history that stretches back thousands of years; perhaps the best-known influence of Ukraine on American culture is the Easter egg with it origins in early 600 BC. It became an independent country again in 1991 after the collapse of the USSR.

The Eimers chose Ukraine because of the plight Ukrainian orphans face. Accurate statistics are nearly impossible to determine, but it is widely accepted that if an orphan in Ukraine is not adopted by the age of 5 there is only a 20 percent chance that child will ever be adopted. Of the Ukrainian orphans that do graduate from the system at the age of 16, nearly 10 percent will commit suicide by their 18th birthday. In addition, it has been conservatively estimated that 60 percent of all the girls who graduate the system will become victims of human trafficking and be sold into illicit trades.

The Eimers have completed all of the U.S. paper work necessary for the adoption and have had their compilation of paperwork, called a dossier, translated into Ukrainian. Every Monday, the SDA, Ukraine’s version of child protective services, accepts applications. Melissa Eimers said that Mondays are often spent checking e-mail to see if their dossier has been submitted.

After the paperwork is submitted and the Eimers are accepted as prospective adoptive parents they will travel to Ukraine for between four to six weeks to complete the adoption. The Eimers’ three biological daughters will stay in the United States with their Grandparents, Charles and Kathy Falk formerly of Lakewood.

Stephen Eimers said his mother Wendy Eimers of Fredonia along with his sister Laurie will be traveling to Ukraine to help with the logistics. They will offer help with the flight back to the United States with three young children who will barely know their parents and speak no English. ‘‘We were pretty confident we would forever be lost in customs or the international terminal at JFK if we don’t have their help,’’ said Stephen Eimers.

The Eimers have set up a Web site at www.LovedAlready.com to share the adoption process. They maintain a blog on the site so friends and family can follow the ups and downs that invariably come with international adoption.

They routinely share brief stories and pictures. One story shares the extreme emotion of getting homestudy approval on a Monday and then having Ukraine close itself to international adoption. Another recent photo shows the international FedEx waybill with a customs declaration value of $0. Pointing out the hundreds of hours of work and several thousand dollars cost, Mrs. Eimers said it was ironic everybody else saw the paperwork as having no value when it contained hope and the future of children.

The Eimers eagerly anticipate the day they can travel to Ukraine and bring the children they will meet home for good. ‘‘Right now we are focusing on learning the Russian language and finishing up the necessary fundraising.’’ According to Stephen Eimers the cost associated with the adoption of the three children will approach $40,000 and they are currently shy of the needed amount. The Eimers are seeking to adopt three children under age 8 who are siblings. The Eimers will be traveling ‘‘blind’’ as to exact ages or sex of the children.

The Eimers desire is to share this journey because they truly hope that others will be touched by the need of the United Nations’ estimated 143,000,000 lost children from Chautauqua County to Kiev, Ukraine to Kigali and Rwanda to Lima, Peru.

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