GENOLA -- When Alisa and Marsh Morford of Genola first hosted Ruslan, a Ukrainian orphan, over a month ago, they didn't expect to want the 14-year-old boy to become a permanent member of the Morford family. But the connection was undeniable, and the Morfords pushed ahead in the adoption process with the hopes of adopting both Ruslan and his 9-year-old sister, Nastiya. They are discovering that the process is outlandishly expensive, for others as well as for them, and are looking for a way to help.
"We recently hosted Ukrainian orphans as part of a hosting program organized by Rob Jolley of Draper. The program was asking for families who were willing to host orphans from Ukraine and give them a chance to meet as many families as possible to help them find 'their' family. We had no intention of adopting, but are now pursuing the adoption of the 14-year-old boy we hosted as well as his sister who is still in Ukraine," Alisa said. "When this boy came to us, he immediately fit in with our family."
Despite the warnings the hosting program gave about not getting too attached right away, in case Ruslan belonged with another family, the Morfords immediately took to Ruslan, especially their oldest son, Chris.
"It was the second or third day when I had to tell my husband that I was having a very difficult time not telling Ruslan I loved him and hugging him like I do all my children as they go to bed at night," Alisa said. "He was having the same difficulty. By this time, our children had all already decided that they wanted Ruslan to be another brother. Chris, my oldest at 14 years old, said, 'He's the brother I never had' even though he has two younger brothers."
Ruslan and Nastiya were orphaned a couple of years ago when their mother died, and they have no family in the Ukraine with the resources and willingness to adopt them. The Morfords already have six children, all of whom Alisa home-schools on their small Genola farm. But the family insists that Ruslan and Nastiya will have a better life with them. According to Alisa, orphans in the Ukraine have little to hope for.
"Their future is bleak. Seventy percent of the girls in these orphanages end up in prostitution, and 60 percent of the boys end up in forced labor situations or recruited into the Russian army. Without anyone to help them with education or housing, they have no choice but to survive by choosing one of these lifestyles," Alisa said.
About this time, Marsh, an entrepreneur and business owner, came up with the idea of a perpetual adoption fund, much like the perpetual education fund set up by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"One month ago, if you had told me that my wife and I were going to adopt, I would have laughed and thought you were crazy," Marsh said. "The transition from there to where we are now was unexpected. I can't remember not being ready and willing in my heart to love another's child as my own. I wonder how often this happens, where common folk like you and me come to this point and cross over. As a family, we don't have much by American standards, but to the rest of the world, we are wealthy beyond comprehension. We have enough to love and teach and lead these children to greater opportunities in their lives. We just don't have the money to get them here."
"I wonder why there isn't an easily accessible perpetual fund to help people like us adopt. I'm confident there are many other families who would welcome the opportunity to adopt but are held back by the large cost, especially for international adoptions," Marsh said.
He said that a perpetual adoption fund would help families and orphans receive the resources needed to fund an adoption, as well as pay back into the fund over the years.
"Adoption is a worthy endeavor," Marsh said. "There are many children throughout the world in need of love and nurturing in order to lead productive lives. Likewise, there are many families who could find it in their hearts to offer their love and homes to needy children, but can't as easily find the funds required to adopt, especially internationally."
Adoption is expensive because of the many people and operating costs involved. According to Marsh, paying for adoption means paying for travel costs, the services of agencies and attorneys, and required government fees. For the Morfords to adopt Ruslan and his sister from the Ukraine, they expect to have to raise $55,000. So far, the Morfords have done a number of fundraisers to help raise money for their cause, but it isn't enough. The effort will take time and money before their family can be whole.
"Most families who are willing and able to adopt usually don't have sufficient, accessible funds to do so. A majority of these families, however, could raise the money, or pay for the process, over time in smaller amounts," Marsh said. "A perpetual adoption fund is the perfect solution in this worthy endeavor."