Friday, January 10, 2014

Our Story, God's Story...The Spirit of Sonship

We want to share a little of our story and Dima's story with those of you who may be new to our blog or may not know the “how” and “why” of this story. We hope that as you read this,l you will understand why we feel such a sense of urgency to bring him home to our family. We ask that you pray and consider partnering with us on this journey as God leads you. No donation given is too small, no prayer spoken upon Dima's and our family's behalf is insignificant, and no opportunity to share our story with your church family or friends is unimportant. This is what we call a "God story", one that only He could write. We are humbled that He has allowed us to be part of it. And we believe it is important to share it with as many people as possible because God wants to use it to speak to many people's lives and circumstances. Maybe He wants to speak to and encourage you!
Our family members
We have been volunteering with a ministry near our home called Bridges of Faith since May of 2012. Three times a year, BOF brings groups of 10-12 Ukrainian orphans to a camp, Bridgestone, here in central Alabama to show the love of Jesus to them, give them a cultural exchange experience, and for some, hopefully connect with a family for adoption. We have served as houseparents for 2-3 days with each group since we began to volunteer, and we have come to love each child who we met at Bridgestone. Each one of them holds a dear and special place in our hearts. Since bringing Anderson home, we have wanted to adopt again. However, as we volunteered at Bridgestone, we began to see God create beautiful relationships with many of these children and other adoptive families. The timing for our family was never right, God did not open the door for adoption, and we began to shift our focus to showing the love of Jesus to these children and praying for them and their soon to be families.

September 2012 with our Ukrainian friends picking apples
We first met the young man who we now call our son, Dima, in December of last year. Dima was very guarded with new people and took a longer time to warm up to all of the crazy Americans he was meeting. We saw glimpses of his great personality during the month he was here, but even with his silly antics and practical joking, he held most people at arm’s length. Dima returned to Alabama in May of 2013, and it was then that we began to get to know this wonderful young man. From the time he returned to Ukraine after his first visit, several faithful friends had been praying hard for him and his future. During his second visit, we experienced his sense of humor, desire to learn new things, and mischievous personality, as well as his care for our youngest son, Anderson, as they developed a special bond. He taught Anderson to say 'I love you' in Ukrainian and asked me many questions about Anderson's development and chances to walk one day (Anderson has Cerebral Palsy and is currently mobile only with a wheelchair).
Dima - December 2012
The last evening before the children returned to Ukraine in June, Dima told me that he would see us again one day, after he finished school. My heart ached for him, because at this point he did not have an adoptive family and he knew it. He was being tough, but he was heartbroken. That night, I believe God began to work in Dima's heart and in ours to bring us together, even though at this point we had no clue what was to come. I told Jeff that God was calling us to pray for, encourage, and speak up for this young man. Even if no family stepped forward to adopt him, we were called to be there for him in the future. Neither Jeff nor I even considered that Dima would want to be our son. We just knew he needed people in his corner. And although we had no idea what the details of that would look like in real life, we began to pray for him. Many other people were advocating and praying for God to work a miracle in Dima's life, too.
After his return to Ukraine in June 2013, I began to communicate with Dima through Russian Facebook, sending him messages of affirmation, encouragement, and letting him know so many people here loved him and were praying for him. I told him often that we believed God had a purpose and plan for his life that none of us could yet see, but we were praying for him to believe and expect God to do a great work. On August 1, Dima communicated to me that he wished he had stayed in America for the summer with our family (he had an extended visa and an offer from some families to stay on an extended hosting program). Again, Jeff and I were surprised. We began to pray and research student exchange programs, in hopes of hosting Dima for an entire school year. We contacted a lawyer in Ukraine who knows Dima and his orphanage director  to ask about exchange student possibilities, and he basically answered by telling us we should adopt Dima. We had loved this young man since we met him, but we never considered bringing an older teenage boy into our home. Jeff and I knew God was opening our eyes to what He had for our family all along! After much prayer and going through scripture and counting the cost, we told our facilitator that we would like to ask Dima to become our son. And that same day, I received a message from Dima typed in misspelled English that read exactly like this "u go ukreine...i go America u femely". His orphanage director had already asked him and he said that he did want to be our son! Since that time, God has continued to knit our hearts together as a family, and opened up Dima's heart to receiving the love we have for him.

December 31, 2013 - just before saying goodbye
I recently (Casey) had the amazing and unique opportunity to visit Dima in Ukraine for his birthday (which is December 28) and spend several days with him. We laughed and spent time together, Skyped with Jeff and the kids, and talked about his past, our family, and our future together. It was like he has always been a member of our family. And saying goodbye was extremely hard for both of us. He knows that we are coming back, and is telling everyone that mama and papa are coming in April. He has told us that he is ready to come to America and be our son. It is important that we go as soon as possible, for many reasons.

Where the world saw an orphan abandoned at a young age, God saw a beloved son; where others saw a hopeless case, God saw a young man longing to live a life of purpose; where we first saw the walls Dima put up to protect himself, God saw the vulnerable and tender heart of a child who wanted to know that he mattered to someone. As I have watched God work this extraordinary miracle of opening Dima's heart with His love, I am humbled and astounded that He would condescend to let us be a part of this story. We knew from the beginning that we could not fund this adoption out of our resources alone. But we also knew that saying "Yes" when God calls you to something, means having complete faith that He is Provider and Sustainer of all things, at all times, in all circumstances. So, we keep telling this story and asking anyone who is willing to be a part of God's work in Dima's life.

Adoption is expensive, and we have been working hard to raise funds. To be fully funded, we still need approximately $18,000 more by April of 2014. We have 110 days to reach our goal. Will you consider making a donation to help us bring our son home?

Grace Klein Community, based out of Birmingham, AL, is a 501c3 non-profit and has partnered with us to raise funds for our adoption through their assistance program. You can give any amount by PayPal or credit/debit card through paypal at
Please specify the word "adoption" in the description line. You can also give by writing a check to Grace Klein Community, writing "adoption" on the "for/memo" line and mailing it to the following address:

Grace Klein Community
1678 Montgomery Hwy #104
Birmingham, AL 35216
*All contributions are tax-deductible.*

Thank you for reading our story, and for your prayers and support. We stand in awe of all that God has done and continues to do, for Dima and for us.

Until he is home,
Jeff and Casey Tatum