Posts Tagged 'orphan care ministries'

– 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

– 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

 

– 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

– 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

~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.

Image001

“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.


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