An Update from Russia — About Valerie

Many of you have by now heard our big news: we are guardians of a three year old orphan named Valerie. She came to live with us last Tuesday evening. She’s doing great as she gets settled in to her new life with us.

We have just entered a brand new phase of our lives, and it will take time for all three of us to adjust and settle into our ‘new normal’. It still feels a little unreal, like we are in a dream, we are having a crash course in parenting. Please, pray for us to go through this transition smoothly.

This update will fill in some of the blanks about Valerie, her mother, and our relationship to them.

First, Valerie is a ‘social orphan’. That is, she has a living mother but her mother is in prison and is losing her parental rights. Her mother used to live with us.

In 2003, we became guardians of a teenage orphan named Oksana (left, in front with Olga, Olga’s sister and mom, and our then-new cat Miki; July 2003). Olga had met Oksana in a summer camp several years before and was like a big sister to her and became like a mother.

Oksana lived with us for about 18 months, until her 18th birthday. She then decided to leave our home and pursue her own direction.

Oksana started living a destructive lifestyle. As the years passed, she was distant from us though we tried several times in many ways to help her. She would contact us once in a while, and then fall out of the radar again. She had several live-in boy friends and got involved in dealing and taking drugs. As a result, she contracted HIV and Hepatitis C. Continue reading

A Postcard from Russia — Valeria’s Baptism

Many of you will remember Oksana, the orphan who lived with us several years ago. She now has a two year old daughter named Valeria.

Oksana wanted for Valeria to be baptized, and she asked us to be the godparents and participate in the baptism, which was in an Orthodox church (hence the headcoverings). Valeria was one of several children baptized that day.

Valeria is a cutey, very full of life and enjoys laughing and playing with the cat.

Oksana, though, is not doing very well. She was quite distant from us (disappeared) for a while, but we’ve been reconnecting with her.

The father of Valeria is no longer around. Oksana lived with another man for over a year; he died as a result of drug addiction. She is now living with another man who is also a drug addict. Her relationships tend to be abusive.

She’s 23 years old. And, very sadly, she recently tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis C.

We keep praying for Oksana and have faith that God is going to redeem her life. God keeps giving us assurance that He is at work.

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