John Krueger's story
In January 2002, I visited Cole Hamann in Richmond, Virginia. Cole was a child who recently was adopted from the Ukraine, and I wanted to see what an adopted child from the Ukraine looked like. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with Cole the first moment I laid eyes on him. He was definitely a charming child. Since Cole's parents wouldn't let me take him home, I decided that I would proceed with the Ukrainian adoption.
I chose the Ukraine because that is the only country in the world that would allow a single man to adopt a Caucasian child. It also takes a very short amount of time to adopt from the Ukraine. That also appealed to me because my mind was set and I wanted to get my child as soon as possible.
On February 1, 2002, I started the document process, which included a Home Study. It is amazing how much paperwork is involved with adopting a child. I worked diligently with my colleague, Leisa Matthews. Together we finished the paper chase and submitted my home study and application for adoption to the Ukraine in April 2002. In May I got my official notification from the Adoption Center in Kiev that my application was approved and my scheduled date to arrive at the Adoption Center was June 5, 2002.
I couldn't believe it. It was really going to happen. I was going to be a dad! I couldn't wait for June 5th. I wanted to go immediately!
The day finally came and I was off to the Ukraine to get my son. Little did I know what was in store for me. After reaching the Ukraine and getting settled, I could hardly wait for my appointment. Finally it was time to go to the Adoption Center. My happiness soon came to a sudden halt when I met the lady in charge of all adoptions, Mrs. Kunkoo.
The only thing she said to me was "problem." I think that is the only word she knows in English. The problem was imaginary and she was just trying to make me mad enough to go home without my son. I hung in there for over seven days of waiting in long lines to see her only to have her say her word "problem" and to tell me to come back tomorrow.
Finally, after seven days of coming back and forth, I purchased some red roses for Mrs. Kunkoo, on a Friday. When she saw her flowers she said that it was a good sign because the flowers matched the dress she wore that day. She said to come back again on Monday and that I would be able to look at the photo albums and pick a child.
Monday arrived and I picked a young boy who had his birthday on the same day as mine, March 9. He was six years old. Was this to be my future son?
Off I went to the train station in Kiev for a trip to Kherson. The train ride was quite an experience. It turned out to be a very wonderful trip in which I met a very nice teacher who spoke broken English. The eleven-hour overnight trip seemed like an eternity. I couldn't get to sleep because the train stopped every twenty minutes.
I was finally to meet my son. Once I was at the orphanage, I received a great shock. The son I had come to meet had suddenly become two. The original boy that I picked at the Adoption Center was transferred to another orphanage where he was adopted the previous month. The records at the adoption center had not been updated and I had picked a child who was already adopted.
I was then shown two sets of boys, Sergie and Roman. Sergie was a great little boy. Roman was quite a bit younger and had an older brother. I fell in love with the two boys. I had to make an immediate decision, on the spot, to either take one, Sergie, or take Roman and his brother. That was the hardest choice I have ever had to make. Somehow I got the courage to say that I would take the brothers who were 5 and 7. These two handsome little guys were meant for me to take home and become a part of my family. They were so cute and loveable that I couldn't imagine not bringing them home. I thank God that I had the option of adopting two while I was there. Not only did I want both of them, I wanted to bring home the whole Orphanage.
After another two weeks in Kherson, I was ready to bring my two boys home. Everything from this point on went like clockwork. I couldn't wait to get the kids out of the Ukraine because I thought that something might still go wrong. But nothing did, and we had a very pleasant trip to the U. S. Embassy in Warsaw. Two days later, a very proud father and his two new sons landed in Los Angeles.