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– Our experience in working with David Avilla when adopting from Ukraine

Our experience in working with David Avilla when adopting from Ukraine…  We were thinking about adopting for years, but could not make a move, terrified of the process and not knowing where to begin and whom to trust.  But just nine months after meeting with David Avilla, we brought our daughter home from Ukraine!

The most valuable service that David provides is bringing the orphaned school-aged children over to meet the families.  Once you meet the children, interact with them, look into their eyes – there is no going back.  We fell in love with our daughter during one of those trips in the summer of 2008 and jumped head on into the adoption process.

Little did we know we hit the jackpot twice:  not only we found our daughter, we also found a very honest, dedicated, and knowledgeable team of people in David’s organization.

From the very beginning, David was always honest and upfront with us about the process and the expenses involved.  All the costs were exactly as David outlined in the beginning of the process – there were no surprises. David provided detailed step by step instructions on how to complete all the required paperwork.  The amount of paperwork is daunting, but with David’s system which gives you samples and templates of all the paperwork and clear and detailed guidance as to what to do and when – it becomes quite manageable and can be accomplished in record time.  We give David the highest praise for generously giving us his time, always being available and ready to listen to our fears and concerns (often unfounded), always encouraging us, and providing a shoulder to lean on and a friendly ear to vent our frustrations (not with David, but with the length and complexity of the process).

One of the biggest assets that David’s organization has – is their Ukrainian partner.  These are the people who are working behind the scenes on your behalf long before you meet them during your travel to Ukraine.  These people know how to work the system and have the right connections to get things done and done quickly.  Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that without the right people on the ground in Ukraine, nothing (or very little) can be accomplished.  When we actually traveled and met with David’s Ukrainian partners – they are courteous, dedicated and professional.  But most importantly, we could observe first-hand how their knowledge and connections made the process run smoothly and completed in record time. What by most accounts should have been a nerve-racking and gut-wrenching experience almost seemed like a vacation.  We felt safe and completely taken care of.

Everyone’s experience is unique and different.  Every case and every family have their own unique challenges.  David does not control the process, nor does he pretend to be in control of it.  From the very beginning he was very honest with us about the uncertainly of the process.  He never sugarcoated the truth and never made any guarantees to us.  And though we were terrified of making emotional and financial commitments without having any guarantee of what a final outcome would be, we appreciated David’s direct approach and his honesty.  The truth is – everyone going through this process will have to take emotional and financial risks!  Not even David’s Ukrainian partners control the process, though they are working tirelessly to minimize and/or avoid any possible obstacles.  Most of the time, you are at the whim of some government bureaucrat or Ukrainian domestic politician.  Though most families are successful in accomplishing their goals, rules can change at any point and it may leave some families heartbroken.

Despite all of the uncertainty, if you choose to navigate through this complex and treacherous process, David and those he works with are reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy partners.  I would recommend working with David to my friends and family without hesitation.

~ A very happy and thankful family

– We had given up the idea of adopting until we met David Avilla of Advocate for Orphans International.

“…we had given up the idea of adopting until we met David Avilla of Advocate for Orphans International.”

My husband and I had wanted to adopt for many years.  One of our previous adoption attempts took us all the way to Kazakhstan, and unfortunately we returned home empty handed.  After that experience we contacted many other adoption service providers, and we felt that we could not trust any of them.  After many unsuccessful attempts we had given up the idea of adopting until we met David Avilla of Advocate for Orphans International.

David was able to earn our trust immediately.  It is not difficult to believe in David’s intention after learning that he and his wife adopted five siblings from Russia.  David is a man of God.  That was what we kept telling each other and convinced ourselves to go through the adoption process, and we were right.  Thanks to him we are now the proud parents of a wonderful boy that we adopted in 2008.

One important feature that David’s service provides is the hosting opportunity for the prospective parents to spend time with the children at the parents’ house.  We are so glad that we went through the hosting program.  We originally hosted a different child that turned out not to be the right match for our family.  After one week we were able to host a boy with whom we had the right chemistry, and we ended up adopting him.  We are very grateful for this opportunity.  If it was not for the hosting program we would not have met the right match for our family.

The path to a successful foreign adoption is long and arduous.  The amount of paperwork and the bureaucracy at both ends is cumbersome.  There are many unknowns throughout the process, particularly in the foreign country.  It is not uncommon for the parents to get frustrated and be worn down by the process.  David had an open door policy when it came to listening to our complaints and frustrations.  He counseled us with his calm demeanor and tried to help us in many ways.  This was truly above and beyond what adoption service providers are supposed to do.  He arranged many telephone calls between the prospective parents and the foreign facilitator to get clarification on our numerous questions.  David was genuinely interested in helping us to go through the process as smoothly and painlessly as he could.

David also kept in touch with us while we were in Ukraine.   He was following our blog and was available any time that we needed him.  Some issues came up recently nearly one year after our adoption, and David helped out even though he had no obligation to do so.

In fact since our adoption we have remained in touch with him, and we send him updates about our son.  He is interested in seeing how the children develop and grow after they arrive here.  We admire David for what he does.  What a great deed to help find homes for orphans who would otherwise end up on the streets.

Although the facilitator in Ukraine may seem pretty rough at times according to our standards,  he knows his job well and he was able to get us out of the country in a short period of time.  The bureaucracy in Ukraine is unbelievable, however he navigated us through the process very smoothly.  When we were there an issue came up that he was able to resolve immediately while other families had to stay there for 5 or 6 extra weeks to resolve a similar issue.

We would definitely pick David if we decide to adopt again.  We are very glad that we used David and would recommend him to other people that are adopting.  In fact every time David brings a group of children to the US, we let our friends know of the children and his program.

A California family, January 27, 2010

– David Avilla has supported us in all ways and he knows the ropes…

Dear prospective adopting parents,

The adoption process can be overwhelming, financially and emotionally. It is wise to work with someone who not only knows in great detail what is necessary from the US side and the foreign country, but is also sympathetic to the personal goals of couples wanting to grow their family. David Avilla has supported us in all ways and he knows the ropes: he and his wife have adopted five children. He is generous with his time and stays in touch every step of the way, offering guidance with the enormous paperwork process and encouragement in a journey where no two experiences are ever the same.

We wish you the best in your adoption journey,

Meng and Allie Chee

January 06, 2010

– Advocate for Orphans Reports: Foreign adoptions by Americans hit 13-year low

Foreign adoptions by Americans hit 13-year low
By DAVID CRARY (AP) – 2 hours ago

 NEW YORK — The number of foreign children adopted by Americans plunged more than a quarter in the past year, reaching the lowest level since 1996 and leading adoption advocates to urge Congress to help reverse the trend… read more

 

– Advocate for Orphans Reports: Study Suggests Orphanages Are Not So Bad

Study Suggests Orphanages Are Not So Bad

Published: December 17, 2009
A new study challenges the widespread belief that orphans in poor countries fare best in family-style homes in the community and should be put into orphanages only as a last resort. On the contrary, the care at orphanages is often at least as good as that given by families who take in orphaned or abandoned children, the new research finds…
…The question of how best to care for orphans is urgent and becoming more so, because the numbers are huge and growing. Worldwide, an estimated 143 million children have lost at least one parent… read more

– Advocate for Orphans Reports: The Children of Zaporozhye Streets: Life Without The Childhood

The Children of Zaporozhye Streets: Life Without The Childhood

by Svetlana Chumachenko

“We all remember the question that the adults used to ask to us. “What do you want to be when you are an adult?” Looks like there is nothing more natural and widespread than dreaming of your future profession. All children dream. Do you still think so? I had a possibility to get acquainted with the children that are not asked such questions. They think that it is just stupid. How can one think of dreaming, when he needs to find something to eat, a place to spend a night at, to fight off the same people as the he is that also consider the place to be their? Waifs and strays have said goodbye to their childhood a long time ago, they are now doing the adult business…”
“…After the talk with Liana I was experiencing the shock. How many children will she manage to give birth to, that will be exactly such unnecessarily homeless as she is? How many kids would demonstrate their first steps, first smiles to the nurses of “Solnishko”, but not to mom and dad? What’s the problem? In the lack of money for contraceptive? Or just in the indifference to their own fate and the fate of the children? Liana is not the only woman who acts so, who gives birth to the child and then gives them away. There are the champions in it, who born 11 children (!). This chain of actions is passed from one generation to another. The people who finished the orphanage but didn’t succeed in their life give birth to absolutely the same people, that exactly repeat the parent’s life…”  Read more

– Advocate for Orphans Reports: Adopted For Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches

To read a review of the book “Adopted For Life:  The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches” by Russell Moore, click here.

– What’s in a Name?

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

by Tony Cooper

Prior to this adoption thing, I never put much stock into the worth of a name.  You would think twice after the experience we had with the name of “Max”.  I now know that names have significance to Him.  Also, I have a further confirmation that God has great interest in the details.

In our country, most of us have no idea what our names mean.  Last names, in particular, have little value.  However, growing up, my father and his family – on a consistent basis – would remind all what our last name meant.  My last name – Cooper – means “barrel maker.”  As a child, it was actually annoying hearing this information repeated, as none of my friends had a clue what their name meant.  The mere fact that I even know what my name means adds an element to this story.

On Friday, May the 18th, 2007, as Revonna was readying the family for bedtime, Lillia walked into the bathroom to tell her something.  Out of the clear blue, Lillia clearly wanted to share some information with Mama.  At the date of this happening, we had been home nearly three weeks and, as time had been progressing, the girls are telling us more and more of their history.  So, with this in mind, Revonna had no idea what she was going to say.  Lillia began by saying, “Mama, in Ukraine I’m Bondar.”  From the very beginning of this journey, we knew the children’s given last name was Bondar.  When we were first introduced to the concept, it was by seeing pictures of the girls on a table at a Christian convention in Indianapolis, IN.  After returning home and inquiring further, discovered their ages and their names.  So, from the very beginning, we knew their names.  Not one time did we give any thought to the meaning of their name – not one time.  Actually, the name Bondar is a very simple name for us to pronounce, which is very unusual for Ukrainian names.  Some of the Ukrainian names are a paragraph long and require a great deal of contortion to pronounce.

So, Lillia proceeds to tell Mama, “Mama, in Ukraine I’m Bondar.”  Revonna replied back, “Yes, I know – but what is your name now?”  Lillia’s quick and excited reply was, “Lillia Hope Cooper!”  Lillia then held her hand out above the floor as to charade out something she was trying to say.  Revonna asked if she was trying to say when she was a small child.  Lillia laughingly replied, “No, Mama.”  Then Revonna asked if she was trying to say when she was a baby.  Again, another reply with laughter, “No, Mama!”  At that moment, Revonna was struck as if with a bolt of lightening with an impression that Lillia was trying to tell her what her name meant.  Revonna then said, “You’re trying to tell me what your name means!?”  Lillia responded with a very excited, “Yes, Mama!  Yes!”  Then Revonna asked, “Tell me, what does your name mean?”  At that very moment, Revonna knew exactly what Lillia was trying to say and knew what her name meant!  For confirmation, Revonna continued to let Lillia finish telling her story.  After a few more seconds of charading, Revonna, then with overwhelming excitement said, “Your name in Ukraine means barrel?!”  Lillia’s reply was, “Yes, Mama!  Yes!” but with a shocked look on her face as to why that meant som much to Mama.  Revonna then proceeded to tell Lillia what the name Cooper meant.  Lillia was so surprised.  Then Revonna began to tell her that Jesus had it in His plan all along for them to come to America and be Coopers.

We explained to both girls how God has had His hand on all of their lives and that He intended for them to be our daughters.  They understood and fully realized the significance.

After putting all seven children to bed, Revonna and I went to the computer to see what the name Bondar would translate from Ukrainian into English.  We went to website that allowed us to type in the Ukrainian alphabet so that we could get an exact translation.  We fully expected the response to come back as barrel.  However, when we hit the translate button, the response came back, “Cooperage.”

 The definition of “cooperage” is:  1) The work or business of a cooper; 2) the place were such work is carried on; 3) articles made by a cooper, as barrels or casks; 4) the price paid for a cooper’s work.

Through God’s work through us, these children have gone from inanimate objects to living, producing beings.  God has so much in store for them!  God’s plan is so perfect.  We know that, without a doubt.  He has always intended for these children to be ours.

 

GOD IS SO GOOD

by Tony Cooper

The Lord is good to us.

Between the time that we were first introduced to the idea of adoption and the time our girls were to arrive for a visit, we had prayed diligently that we were indeed following His will and not just some moment of temporary insanity.  Here and there, we did have moments of being overwhelmed with what we were contemplating so only prayer could reveal to us His will.

 On Monday prior to the girls coming for their summer visit (08/14/2006), Revonna had prayed that we would receive some sort of information on the girl’s little brother.  Up to this point, other than the fact that he was a boy, we had no other information.  On this Monday, Revonna was told that by noon that day we would receive at least some information.  Well, noon rolled around and no info.  In fact, I think about at 1:00 pm that day, Revonna had been told that we would not get any info whatsoever.

 The Lord had already parted the Red Sea for us, however, we needed some more confirmation.  Finding out that we were not going to be getting any further info was self-imposed disheartening.

On that same afternoon, it must have been close to 5:00 pm, an email arrived with two pictures of the little boy.  God is so good.  We were confirmed yet again that we were in His will.  By the way, these two pictures had no name, age or any other info whatsoever.

And yet, after that, we still needed more confirmation.  Without telling me, Revonna had put out a fleece that the boy’s name would have some significance to us.  I suppose her thought might have been that we were going to find out his name and then look it up on the internet to see what the various possible meanings could be… I don’t know.  God is so good.

On August 18, 2006, we picked up our girls at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.  Through the Lord having His hand on us, we were actually allowed to go all the way to the gate and watch them get off the plane, a moment we will never forget.  The next day, when we arrived back home in Tennessee, there was quite a motley crew waiting for us.  So, we arrive at our home and everyone gathers around the kitchen table.  Our next door neighbor, who we have known for 30+ years happens to be Russian.  She comes over to help us translate.

I need to interject here, that while my wife was pregnant with our then 4th child, Chase (our then 3 year old son), began referring to the baby in Mommy’s tummy as Max.  So, for 7+ months, the whole family and all friends referred to this new baby as Max.  We had full intention of having his first name be Max.  I don’t have an explanation, but for whatever reason, just a few days prior to his birth, my wife and I decided on another name for the baby.  So, our newest member of the family became Brock Maxwell Cooper.  We liked the name Max so well that we kept it in there but decided to call him Brock.  Again, I cannot tell you why we made this decision.

Okay, back to the mob surrounding the kitchen table.  We’re sitting around the table and we are asking the girls questions like “are you hungry,” etc.  After a few moments, Revonna had our neighbor ask the girls about their brother.  Remeber, I have no clue as to my wife setting a fleece out as to the boy’s name.  So, with the motley crew intently listening, our neighbor asks the girls, “What is your brother’s name?”  Lillia immediately replies back, “Maksim!”  The whole room went up in a “Wow!”  I felt my spirit stir.  Then my wife reveals to those in the room her fleece.  God is so good!

The age difference between Brock and Max is a little over 8 months.  I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

– Why we recommend working with David Avilla of Advocate for Orphans

One family’s recommendation of why working with David Avilla of Advocate for Orphans was a positive and successful venture!

 

I will be leaving for the airport in about 2 hours to collect my wife and my daughter – freshly arrived from Ukraine. Our adoption is complete. There have been some very stressful moments in this process, and I am grateful for the assistance, support, and friendship from David throughout this process. David is a critical factor in our success in this process, helping us meet the requirements to host, introducing us to our daughter-to-be, providing on-tap translators, helping with the paperwork and catching my errors before I shipped the crucial dossier to Ukraine, and most importantly praying with me and for me during the process, especially at crucial junctions when I started to panic.

From a tactical perspective, the paperwork and process are an extremely complicated and detailed part of the adoption journey. Any slip-up here could have made days or weeks difference in when we could get our daughter. David’s pre-packaged and tested document repository really made the complicated paperwork process as easy as it can possibly be. Every step breezed through without a single glitch in paperwork. Each document was the correct document and accurate verbiage as a result of David’s experience with this process. By following his directions, we had the right thing to the right social worker, fingerprinter, translator, courier, and/or government office, foreign and domestic, on time and in the right sequence.

The overseas team was a life-saver in Ukraine. Our job was to be where we were told to be when we were told to be there – the coordination of the complicated visits to SDA, local inspectors, notary bureau, court, travel across Ukraine, orphanage, etc. was completely seamless and transparent to us. There were stressful moments, and the team did their best to calm and reassure a couple of very nervous parents-to-be that all was well and on target. We did observe another family in Ukraine (they had been there for two months already), and it was obvious that they were not as well chaperoned, and that it was not as “easy”. From day one in Ukraine to completion was 29 days for us – over three months for the other family. With several lives (ours and our daughter’s) hanging on the success of this process, it was extremely comforting to have the support of a team that had such a wealth of experience guiding other families through this journey. In the end, everything occurred exactly as predicted – the process for us was accurate down to the minute as explained to us before we traveled to Ukraine. The in-country support was invaluable.

All this coordination by David, from home study team to overseas team, simplified and condensed the process of bringing our child home.

Our eternal gratitude and thanks to all for their assistance in bringing our daughter home. We have been very blessed by this team. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”. David – thank you for your actions. I know the Lord takes delight in you and crowns you with salvation.

Jeff Stilwell

November 14, 2009

– Barack Obama’s National Adoption Month Proclamation

Join Advocate for Orphans in celebrating National Adoption Month during November 2009!  Below is the text of President Barack Obama’s Presidential Proclamation which champions our cause to encourage “…individuals… from all walks of life…” to commit “to love a child who is in need of the protective arms of a parent…”  This echoes Advocate for Orphans International’s mission – David Avilla, Executive Director

 

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release

October 30, 2009 

NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH, 2009
– – – – – – –
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
 

A PROCLAMATION

All children deserve a safe, loving family to protect and care for them. In America, thousands of young people are waiting for that opportunity. During National Adoption Month, we honor those families that have strengthened America through adoption, and we recommit to reducing the number of children awaiting adoption into loving families.

America is a country rich in resources and filled with countless caring men and women who hope to adopt. These individuals come from all walks of life, united in their commitment to love a child who is in need of the protective arms of a parent. We must do more to ensure that adoption is a viable option for them. By continually opening up the doors to adoption, and supporting full equality in adoption laws for all American families, we allow more children to find the permanent homes they yearn for and deserve.

This month, we also focus on children in foster care. These children are not in the system by their own choosing, but are forced into it by unfortunate or tragic circumstances. These young people have specific needs and require unique support. Federal, State, and local governments, communities, and individuals all have a role to play in ensuring that foster children have the resources and encouragement they need to realize their hopes and dreams.

The course of our future will depend on what we do to help the next generation of Americans succeed. This month, we celebrate those families brought together by adoption and renew our commitments to children in the foster care system.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2009 as National Adoption Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by reaching out to support and honor adoptive families, as well as to participate actively in efforts to find permanent homes for waiting children.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA


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