It didn’t start that way for Vladyslav, born in Ukraine and lived most of his life an orphanage in Vinnytsia located about 152 miles southwest of Kiev [Kyiv] the capital of Ukraine. Vlad visited America and entered our network of friends for the first time in 2018. He stayed with a family in North Carolina as part of an orphan hosting program that advocates for adoption and creates the opportunity to meet wonderful young children with the possibility that will end in a “forever home.”
The visit brought Vlad into the heart and mind of Loren and Stacy during the summer of 2018. After hosting Vlad in their home during Christmas of the same year, Vlad, Loren, and Stacy couldn’t bear the thought of the relationship ending or simply being limited to the annual hosting context. When Vlad left for home in January of 2019 back to the orphanage, Stacey called Dana and the conversation began with tears and an emotional appeal for help to bring Vlad home, this time to America with a permanent place at their table.
Stacy, explained “It feels like we’ve been given an opportunity that you don’t say NO to.” Loren and Stacy, had been considering this possibility, spending a solid week of “counting the cost.” It was a hard decision. The couple was circumspect about all the relationships involved. Their immediate family, their extended family, friends, and members of the church where they attended. It involved considerations of their personal finances, the existing commitments they had to family, work, and church. But the sound that kept ringing in their ears and the look that haunted their hearts was the moment when Vlad looked at them inquisitively and said in broken English and heavy Slavic accent, “Why not you adopt me?”
“It was a huge relief”, Stacy explained, “When after many conversations, we finally had to shut out all the voices and pray. We made our decision to bring Vlad into our family and that brought such peace and resolve.” I suggested to Loren and Stacy, “That week of wrestling, was your night ‘in the garden.’”
For Loren, Stacy, their family and of course Vlad, the journey from decision to home coming took two years, two trips to Ukraine and a seemingly endless list of setbacks, barriers, and bureaucratic delays. Stacy would not give up. Her heart had bonded with this young man, her husband and family were committed to support this mission. The church where they attended lifted prayers in their behalf, extended family likewise offered prayers and emotional support.
Vlad arrived December 8th, 2020. His place at the table was set forever. The adjustments to a new home, a new country and a new language began immediately.
Vlad excels at sports. Especially boxing and soccer. In fact, Vlad was a boxing champion at the gym-club where he lived and trained in Vinnytsia. Stacy explained that she was told in fact, that when Vlad left for America, the trainer closed the boxing club. Vlad had been such an attraction to the club that his departure was devasting.
Vlad used his natural athletic abilities in school. He explained to Loren and Stacy. “If you’re good in sports, teachers overlook your grades.” He seems to have picked up certain “nuances” of American life quickly.
But Vlad did do well in school and in sports. He hadn’t given much thought to college, focusing more on trade school interests and opportunities. However, when Nolan his new brother attended Florida College Falcon Days and came home raving about the experience, Vlad told mom and dad, “I kind a want to go.” Loren and Stacy told him, “We’ll find a way.” Which brought the couple back to counting the cost, prayers, and planning.
What Loren, Stacy and Vlad didn’t know, couldn’t know was that ten years before Vlad came to America, discussions were taking place between Sacred Selections and Florida College. What if…Florida College in collaboration with Sacred Selections and their extended network of families, donors and supporters could find a way to fund scholarships for the children adopted through Sacred Selections and the families that have given them a home. This idea had waxed and waned for over a decade but a generous couple from Texas stepped into the gap in June of 2022.
Todd and Kathy Cox, who are some of the most passionate and generous people you’ll meet have a huge Texas heart for children and equipping them for lives of service in the kingdom of God. Todd and Kathy worked diligently with Sacred Selections and Florida College to make this FC-SS scholarship possible.
On June 4th of 2022, Sacred Selections held our 15th Anniversary Reunion. Florida College was there represented by Phil Robertson. Todd and Kathy Cox stood by Phil’s side and made the big announcement that Florida College would have a $10,000 scholarship each year for any Sacred Selections adopted child that wanted to attend Florida College. Loren’s Aunt Brenda was at the reunion and called them the next day with the exciting news. God had found a way, working through His people.
This journey up to this point came to a glorious climax on the evening of September 22, 2022. The picture above, is one we snapped while Vlad sat at our table during the Florida College Leadership Dinner. Adam Olson FC’s VP of Advancement introduced Vlad and the announcement was made that he was the very first Sacred Selections adopted child to receive the Florida College Scholarship. You can get a sense of the miracle, the amazement, and the awe in Vlad’s eyes. Just two years ago, this young man had a bleak future, and in-light-of recent events in Ukraine could have been in harm’s way fighting the invaders to his country. But God had other plans. And so tonight, Vlad sat with many who had been a part of his journey home, into God’s kingdom and he heard his name called out in a meeting with the Vice President of the United States.
Loren and Stacy, told us, “Vlad has a heart to help.” The war in Ukraine has been hard on him. He sends so much of what he earns back to Ukraine to help his family and others he knows that are in disparate need.
Vladyslav – Vlad means “One who owns the glory” We think Vlad’s goodness and glory has just begun. Continue to pray for this remarkable young man and the many children who have been adopted with similar stories and potential. Jesus says it best, “For it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.” Matthew 18:14