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Meridian parents raise money to adopt Ukrainian toddler with down syndrome

February 1, 2019, 10:00 649 Author: By Tamara Kiptenko, Artur Korniienko, Kostyantyn Chernichkin. www.idahopress.com When Meridian parent Kristin Foster first saw a video of 1-and-a-half-year-old orphan Augustus, she knew there was “something profound about him.”

Augustus has down syndrome and had been listed for adoption for nine months in an orphanage in Ukraine. Foster’s husband, Taylor Foster, shared the video, hoping the toddler would find a family to adopt him.

The next day the Meridian parents decided they were that family.

“I got on the phone with (Kristen) on my lunch break … and we had that moment where I asked, ‘Would you do it?’ And we both said yeah without hesitation,” Taylor Foster said.

In order to bring Augustus, or Auggie as the couple calls him, home, the Fosters are trying to raising $35,000 to cover the costs of the adoption and travel. As of Jan. 28 — 10 days after they had started the fundraiser — they had already raised almost $7,000.

The couple still has a few steps to go through before they are fully approved for the adoption, but they already meet all the Ukrainian requirements, said Nancy Thornell, U.S. family liaison with Hand of Help in Adoption, the agency the Fosters are going through to adopt Augustus.

Thornell noted that the name Augustus is just an alias. All identifying information is kept secret to ensure the safety of a child, she said.

Kristin and Taylor Foster made the decision to adopt Augustus on Jan. 16, and they said they’re been trying to finish the adoption paperwork as quickly as possible.

“The sooner we get there, the sooner he can escape this reality,” Kristin Foster said.

The couple also wants speed up the process because they’re worried about the child's development being stunted.

“I think that’s my biggest worry, not getting there fast enough,” Kristin Foster said.

Thornell said it's common for children in Augustus's position to get very little interaction.

Augustus has congenital cataracts and a heart condition that Kristin Foster said would have already been treated if he were born in the United States.

The couple has three children, ages 9 months, 2 and 7. Two-year-old McCoy was born with down syndrome. Kristin Foster said it takes a lot of extra effort for a child with his condition to go through the normal developmental steps. She said her son needs a lot of extra help to "really thrive and develop."

“That’s not something that innately happens with kiddos with down syndrome,” Kristin Foster said. “Seeing (Augustus) there and knowing he needed that from a family kind of guided our hearts to say yes.”

“We will be relentless for his development, just like we are with McCoy,” she said.

The couple didn’t know McCoy had down syndrome until several days after he was born.

“Our whole world fell apart at that moment,” Kristin Foster said. “We felt so unprepared. … It just took a little time to wrap our heads around it and move forward in the most fierce way.”

Their journey raising McCoy has helped the family grow and become more compassionate, she said.

“He has been this little beam of light in our family,” Kristin Foster said. “Our family functions because McCoy is so wonderful.”

Two of Taylor Foster’s siblings were adopted, including his sister Maddie VanderPoel, who was adopted from Russia. She was kept in her crib until she was adopted at 14 months old, he said.

“She wasn’t given the opportunity to strive in advance,” he said.

His other sister, Emilee VanderPoel, was adopted from Kyrgyzstan, where she had more opportunities to develop, but the living conditions “were pretty harsh,” he said.

“We saw Auggie’s post and on my end what really got me was knowing he was the same age my sisters were,” Taylor Foster said.

The couple has received a number of emails from people across the globe showing support for their decision to adopt Augustus.

Down the road, the couple is considering starting an organization to raise money for people like themselves who want to adopt children with developmental disabilities.

“Knowing that we can bring awareness to not only international adoption, but special needs adoption, it really just gives us a platform,” Kristin Foster said. “Once we are done with Augustus and he’s home, we know our hearts are not done with international adoption.”

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