Adoption is not for the faint of heart.
The road can be long, disappointing, frustrating, and can lead to a lot of heartbreak and questioning God’s plan for your family. When our family (Greg, Tarynn, and our two sons) decided to start our journey, adoption wasn’t necessarily our intent. We found out about a hosting program through a nonprofit organization at our church and decided to find out what it would be like to have a daughter/sister for the summer. Some might say, “As luck would have it,” but as we found out, it was actually, “As God would have it.”
words + photographs GREG & TARYNN GODDARD
We ended up hosting two sisters at the last minute. Esmi and Vika entered our lives for a full summer and completely changed our hearts and our family. We knew by the end of the summer, when their older sister joined us for the last week, we wanted to adopt. We began our adoption journey before they even left.
We knew these three sisters, and their younger sister in Ukraine who did not get to come, were not actually adoptable yet. We knew there were a lot of things that would have to happen before they would be available. We learned a lot over the next six months about waiting, praying, and trusting. In the end, despite the disappointment of finding out we would never be able to adopt these sisters, we learned God was faithful in every way on our journey to that point and was providing the funding and resources we needed to prepare for whatever the future might hold.
But, also, be prepared for blessings, be prepared for joy, be prepared to watch God’s plan unfold in your family’s lives. In the end, the journey is worth it. Everyone deserves a family.
That next summer, we hosted the three girls again along with their younger sister, knowing we were not going to adopt them. We still felt God calling us to host them. Throughout this part of the process, our home study organization, All Blessings, helped us maneuver all of the paperwork and start the process of completing everything necessary to qualify for adoption. We know a lot of families try to do things on their own, but having a solid organization to do your home study that is local (many of them try to do things remotely) and an adoption agency that truly knows the landscape of the situation you are trying to adopt from is key. We knew after hosting these four girls that no matter what happened, we wanted to adopt from Ukraine. We felt God’s call strongly on our hearts to stay the course, even though doubts entered our minds. We feared we might not ever find another sibling group that fit our family as well as the ones we had already hosted.
Then God showed us He was in control. We were linked to World Links International Adoption Agency to host in a winter program two sisters from Ukraine, who also had a younger sister who was too young to come. We quickly discovered World Links knew the road to travel for adoption in Ukraine as the President/CEO and her staff were from Ukraine. In fact, the young lady who ran the hosting part of the organization was adopted from Ukraine with her sister many years ago. We once again saw God’s hand at work in our adoption process. We would like to say this was our happy ending and we brought these sisters home, but this sibling group did not end up with our family either. Doubts, fear, anger, questions – we were wondering why God allowed this to happen. Looking back, since the oldest girl was almost 16, we now realize God was introducing us to the idea of adopting an older child. Up to this point, we were hoping for younger children.
15 years old
younger sister Eva, 7
World Links connected us directly with a facilitator in Ukraine to help us understand the risks and the landscape of the adoption process in the country. We did not want to host again as it was expensive and we were trying to raise the rest of the money we would need to adopt internationally. But, through prayer and believing God would come through if we were meant to host, a friend of ours paid for us to host Kateryna (Kate). We found out later Kate was somewhat reluctant to come. She also had fear, questions, and wasn’t sure if adoption was really for her, but she decided to come check out our family. We honestly believe she came with no real intention of saying, “Yes;” however, God had other plans for us all. Our church wrapped their arms around us in prayer both before and during our hosting. Never underestimate the community of believers God puts around you. Ridgecrest Baptist Church came alongside us, and by the end of the summer, Kate went back and told the school social worker if our family came to adopt, she would say, “Yes.” We started the process immediately, and our agency, knowing the Ukrainian landscape for adoption, kicked into high gear and helped us quickly get our dossier done and sent over. Four months after Kate left us for the summer, Greg was back in Ukraine picking up our family’s two new daughters and sisters.
The last three months before adoption was a race to raise the rest of our money. God showed His faithfulness in our time of need, and we received grants, donations from family and friends, and held fundraisers that quickly closed the gap on our expenses. Each time a payment had to be made, the money was there. It was almost as if it appeared out of thin air. Here we are, two years later, knowing God did everything in His way to help get us from Point A to Point Z. His fingerprints were on every aspect of our journey. Not only do these two girls have a family, our family has grown and is better for it, and the family of God has grown as well. Both girls have accepted Christ and are doing well in school and adjusting to being here. Greg has had the pleasure of taking Kate back to Ukraine to visit family and working with our new nonprofit Simply Loved. We know God has much more for us than just this adoption. He has called us to go back and do whatever we can for the orphans in Ukraine. We feel a special call for older children. Kate was 16 when she came into our family, and her experience has shown us the great need for these older children to feel loved, needed, and significant.
RESOURCES recommended by Greg & Tarynn Goddard
- World Links International Adoption Agency specializes in international adoptions. Tatiana, the president and CEO, is from Ukraine and knows how to work well within the country for adoptions.
- Lawyers for Adoptives in Ukraine is a facilitator within Ukraine that works with adoption agencies from around the world to help complete adoption paperwork and court hearings. Olga and Igor are incredible resources and are well connected. They take care of families as if they were their own.
- All Blessings International conducts home studies and other adoption services. They provided us with our home study and all required training to be prepared for adoption.
If you are thinking of starting your own journey into foster care or adoption, be prepared for your family, your beliefs, your marriage, your comfort to be attacked, both during and after. But also be prepared for God to pour out blessings throughout the journey. Be open to new ideas and changes. Turn fear into excitement of what God might be doing next, and be prepared to have your hearts changed forever. Your church family will be the most important part of your journey. Let them come alongside you in prayer and let them laugh with you, cry with you, and be a cheerleader for your journey.
Pick a home study and adoption agency that truly understands the adoption type or adoption country that you are interested in. Each is unique and having an organization that has done it before is key. Read books about adoption, be prepared for the spiritual warfare that will come your way, be prepared for the behavioral issues that might arise, and be prepared for disappointment along the way. But, also be prepared for blessings, be prepared for joy, be prepared to watch God’s plan unfold in your family’s lives. In the end, the journey is worth it. Everyone deserves a family. Kateryna and Eva are no longer our adopted children; they are OUR children. OUR family. OUR sisters. GTG
Greg and Tarynn Goddard have four children, ages nine through 20. Two biological boys and two adopted girls. Greg works within the healthcare supply chain, and Tarynn is a special education teacher in a local school district. Greg and Tarynn also have a nonprofit, Simply Loved, that is dedicated to assisting orphanages in Eastern Europe with special needs beyond their local funding abilities.
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