Posts Tagged 'kerry avilla'

– Our Thanks

Thank you for visiting our new Advocate for Orphans website!  We appreciate your support as we work together to ease the plight of the orphan and halt the oppression of the innocent.  Together we can make the difference.

David Avilla

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”  Psalm 68:5


“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:21

– Adopting Maria

by Christine Niles

In early summer of 2007, we traveled to Ukraine to adopt a 12-year old girl named Maria.  Throughout this process, we always maintained the philosophy of “prepare for the worst and pray for the best,” and God has been faithful to us and has rewarded us richly.

Maria is our first child and, in the last 18 months, our lives have changed dramatically.  We are continually amazed by her ability to adapt to a new culture and language, to succeed in public school, and to build new friendships with her peers.

Each step we take in faith and each challenge in which we allow God to work have proven that Maria was meant to be our daughter, and that our little family is truly blessed.

Many of these children have experienced things in their short lives that we could never even imagine.  Hunger, abandonment, crime, abuse, and the loss of loved ones are common realities.  Each one of them deserves a chance to heal and to experience the unconditional love of a family.

The Niles Family participated in Advocate for Orphans 2006 Program.

– Adopting Khrystyna and Amina

by Lisa Thompson


The Sunday after we applied to host a child, the Sunday School class that we visited studied James 1:27.

“Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us.”

It certainly gave me something to think about.  In August 2006, Khrystyna came to Fort Wayne as part of a program that brings orphans to America for a vacation, with the hopes of connecting them to a “forever family.”  She spent 3 weeks in our home and by the time she left, we knew that God was calling us to pursue adopting her.

Our next 6 months were spent fulfilling the necessary documents to adopt in Ukraine and trying to come up with the money necessary to adopt.  We were so blessed to have family and friends who participated in our adoption process both prayerfully and financially.  During the process, we prayed that God would make His will clear to us.  We prayed about the possibility of adopting a second child and, through some amazing circumstances, we felt God leading us in that direction.  Unfortunately, we were looking to adopt a 5 to 7 year old girl and the orphanage did not have any who were available for adoption.  I felt like God was closing the door on a sibling for Khrystyna, but God had other plans.

When we arrived at the orphanage in May 2007, the orphanage director informed us that she had the perfect sister for Khrystyna – an 11 year old named Amina.  We were a little hesitant to adopt a child who would soon turn 12 and with whom we hadn’t spent extensive time, but during the time we spent with her over the next few days, we really felt like she was supposed to be part of our family.  Even now, we are amazed at how God in His sovereignty matched us with the perfect children for our family.  We have our struggles just like every other family, but the evidence of God’s grace is so apparent in the midst of our struggles.

There are many ways to be involved in caring for orphans besides adopting.  If God has blessed you financially, consider helping a family who wants to adopt but lacks the resources.  We would not have been able to adopt our girls if not for people who partnered with us in this way.  If you have construction skills, consider a missions trip to an orphanage to raise the quality of living conditions.  Although people often comment on how blessed our kids are to have been adopted, we have been more blessed to have them entrusted to us.  What a privilege it is to parent our dear girls.

The Thompson’s participated in Advocate for Orphans 2006 Program.

– Adopting Yura and Tetyana

by Teresa Clements


“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11




We found ourselves in early 2006 – happy, healthy, and feeling much too blessed.   We knew we had the money, the time, and most importantly the love to give to additional children, but having more biological children was no longer an option.  And with Tyler being 14 and Courtney 11, adding babies at this point would create almost two “sets” of children within our family.


We hosted Yura-9 and Tetyana-8 in the summer of 2006.  I still remember how small they looked when they walked down the hallway of the airport to our little meeting area.  I still remember how messy Tetyana’s hair was, and how she had her little baseball cap on backwards… how polite and shy Yura was, but with a ready smile.  As we placed them in our car and drove them to our house, I was amazed at the bravery of these two little ones.  They had travelled halfway around the world and had no idea where we were going, or even who we were.


The three weeks of our visit passed quickly and before anyone was ready, the day arrived that we had to send them back to Ukraine.  It happened to be the same day that I sent Tyler to high school and Courtney to middle school for the first time.  To date, that has been the worst day of my life.  It was amazing to me how quickly we had become attached to Yura and Tetyana.  It was also hard for Tyler and Courtney to say goodbye to the children because they already considered them to be their new brother and sister.  Unlike a pregnancy that lasts nine months, I had no idea how long our adoption would take to complete.


The past year and a half has flown by.  Tetyana is in third grade and is on the honor roll and doing grade level work in all her subjects.  Yura is in fifth grade and should be caught up in all his subjects by the end of the year.  


We have been pleasantly surprised by how social both children are.  After some initial (and to be expected) shyness for the first couple of weeks, especially around large crowds, the children have made many friends.  We think the experience of the orphanage taught them some very valuable people skills!  They have also appropriately bonded with our family and extended family, something that can sometimes be a concern with older adopted children.


There have been many times when I am absolutely floored by their capacity to deal with all of the changes that they are experiencing.  It has been such a joy to watch their development.  We have had many laughs along the way, and a few tears, but it has been the adventure of a lifetime for each of us.  There are so many wonderful children in the world, just waiting for the same opportunity of hope and a future.


The Clement’s were a part of Advocate for Orphans 2006 Program.

~David and Kerry Avilla – A Walk of Faith

by Kelly Barbazette, The Gilroy Dispatch
Christmas Eve, 1999

They gaze at their brightly lit Christmas tree through eyes that have never witnessed a holiday of warmth in a home of their own. Spending most of their lives in institutionalized care in Russia, this is the first year Elisaveta, 5, Vanya, 6, Tamara, 8, Svetlana, 9, and Lena, 12, are spending Christmas together with their new mom and dad. “They’re looking around at all of this stuff,” Dave Avilla, 45, said, his eyes sweeping over the Nativity scene and the brightly wrapped gifts under the tree. “We can’t believe this is really happening.” Avilla and his wife Kerry adopted the five sibling over the past three years – a choice they call their “walk of faith.” Born into an impoverished family, the children spent most of their years in separate adoption homes. Now reunited, the children, who are quick to offer a shy smile, seem as if they were never separated. “From start to finish, we’re still in awe of everything. We didn’t know what was going to happen and the path just kept rolling on and yet here we are,” Kerry Avilla, 44, said.

In the Beginning
The Avillas were acquainted for years, first meeting at their church in San Jose. Their friendship blossomed in 1991. Kerry describes their courtship as a whirlwind romance. “He just swept me off my feet,” she said. The couple were married in March 1992 and bought a condominium in San Jose. David, who has two grown sons from a previous marriage, and Kerry decided they wanted children of their own.

After a few years it was evident that they weren’t able to conceive. Instead of attempting costly fertility treatments, they opted for adoption. “The goal I wanted was a family,” Kerry said. “When it came down to it, it was incidental whether they looked like me.” She began scouring the Internet in 1995 for adoption agencies and located an international one that October. “We prayed and asked the Lord, ‘We’d like a little girl, about 2. We’re not going to pick. The first one that fits the age group, we’ll accept. That one’s from You,” Kerry said. In August 1997, they saw their first picture of Lise, who was 2 at the time.

1996 lise

The adoption was proceeding smoothly, then Kerry got a phone call from the agency in November, 1996. They notified the couple that Lise had four siblings that were discovered after Lise’s brother moved to the same adoption home in Russia that October. By law, an adoption agency is required to notify the adoptive parents of any siblings.

“When I hung up the phone, the first reaction I had was shock,” Kerry said. “I likened it to being a pregnant mom with multiples. I sat down and thought, ‘I’m going to be the mother of five children”.

Questions Arise
David and Kerry said the reasons not to adopt all five children quickly surfaced, including financial worries and possibly cramping their lifestyle. But they said all of their reasons were based in fear. Instead of asking themselves “How could we?” they began to ask “How could we not?” “We didn’t know how we were going to do it,” David said. “We thought if it was meant to be, God would open the doors and make it happen, and if it wasn’t meant to be, He would find a way to close them.” “We really believe that God brought Lise to us, and if we really believe that, He had to know about the others and that He had a bigger plan for us,” Kerry added. Their family and friends gave them cautious support. “No one ever said we shouldn’t do it, but you could tell they were concerned,” David said.

On December 23, 1996, the couple received a court date in Russia for January 8th. The next two weeks were filled were a frenzy of activities as they prepared for their journey. They credit their online support group of other adoptive parents for helping prepare them for what to expect both during and after the trip. “A lot of it was going into an abyss of unknown,” David said. “It was a complete adventure. You would never guess what the reality was going to be like.” On Jan. 5, 1997, the couple left for Russia. The day they met their daughter is one they’ll never forget. “It was the most amazing day of my whole life,” David said. “We didn’t know what was going on. We were going to meet this child. Our future would never be the same. It was magical.”

The first visit-and consecutive ones for the next three weeks-are chronicled on video tape. During their first meeting, a shy Lise wearing a red-checked dress stands stiffly, watching David intently. She turns one cautious eye when Kerry kisses her cheek. By the end of the visit, she’s cuddling on David’s lap. Her smile is quicker and brighter as the visits continue.

1997-1 day 1b

A “Hard Life”
Lise had been in the “baby home” from three days after she was born to age 2. She was relinquished at birth-not an uncommon occurrence in Russia and other eastern European countries where there aren’t foster homes, said Marge Talbot, executive director of Growing Families Worldwide, an international adoption agency based in New Jersey. Most children, particularly ones living in Eastern Europe, are given up because the parents are so impoverished, she said. “The life over there is so hard,” David said. “People literally live in shacks. The houses in this area here were barely inhabitable. It’s a hard life. The weather is tough. What that does is create an absence of hope and choices that aren’t always wise.”
David and Kerry stayed for three weeks in frozen Russia in the dead of winter. The couple said they could feel their friends’ prayers during their stay that they describe as “a charmed existence”. Most of their time was spent at the orphanage, visiting with Lise and other children at the home. They also were able to visit Lise’s brother, Vanya, whom they planned to adopt next.


“It was neat to be in her environment, getting to know her and her caregivers,” David said. They said they not only left Russia with their child, but also with a greater appreciation for their own lives. “You go over there and you come back humbled,” Kerry said.

Faith in God
The couple says their faith in God and their trust that He would find a way has helped them through the past few years. The couple had financial troubles in the past and the adoption bills were stacking up. An overseas adoption costs approximately $20,000. With one child and the hope of four others, their worries mounted. “There wasn’t a day that went by since January 1997 that we didn’t ask ourselves ‘How do we get from here to there?” David said. Then, suddenly the resources started surfacing. David, a software salesman in San Jose, got a few sizable commissions. They began searching for a larger home-a former weekend pastime. They found a model they liked in Gilroy, but it would be another year before they moved in. In the meantime, Vanya’s adoption was finalized in August 1997. In September, he joined the growing family. The couple said they could feel God smiling down at them during those months. “I believe if you take a step in the direction of your heart, God will provide for you infinitely. We’ve seen it happen time and time again,” David said. After they moved into their new home, the adoption for Lise’s three sisters, whom were living in a different children’s home in Russia, had been finalized. The girls arrived in Gilroy with their mom and dad in March of this year.

dispatch99 (2)

Making Adjustments
The three older sisters hung together for a couple of months, then began to play with Lise and Vanya. “Now, you would never know that they weren’t together since birth,” Kerry said. David and Kerry said the children have adjusted well – emotionally and culturally. The couple watched their children carefully, relieved to discover that they didn’t develop any side-effects that adoptive children from Eastern European countries have the potential of developing, including learning disorders and post traumatic stress disorder. “I really feel we’ve beat the odds five times,” Kerry said. All the children but Elena, 12, didn’t speak English until they arrived in the United States. But they all picked up the language quickly. The simplest things such as car washes, department stores and elevators left the children awestruck. For Tamara, “everything” was scary at first, including “big stores,” she said shyly. Mom and Dad also have adjusted, the biggest change being loss of time. “There’s no time for the fun stuff. The icing, hobbies,” Kerry said. “We signed up for this life. We have to carve out a whole new one.” A former insurance broker, Kerry has taken on the task of homeschooling their children. Used to tackling pages of “to do” lists, she said she has learned to take the pressure off herself and do what she can. “I’m just not requiring as much from myself because my plate wasn’t as full before and I just have to be happy with the small bites I can get.” The couple finds time for themselves on Sunday evenings, or “date night”, when the children are at kids’ Bible club. They also block out time to spend with each child. David takes turns running errands or playing a game in the evening with a different child that the children fondly refer to as “dates with papa”. David and Kerry say they have no regrets in the way their family came together – only joy. “I have something now that I didn’t have before. It’s really precious,” Kerry said.