I am a night owl. Every night I am up late catching up on computer work and soaking in the quiet time that it affords me. As I sat on my couch in Southeast Iowa in the Spring of 2013, I stumbled upon a picture of a boy with a hosting group. His description said, “last chance”. For some reason his image caught my attention and I felt I was called to pray for him. So I did. I prayed that a family would find him and that he would have a much better life than the one he was living in Southeast Ukraine. A couple of days later, a newly friended individual on Facebook shared a blog that went into my feed. As I read through the shared blog written by Suzette of Grace to Ukraine called “Tossing and Turning”, I reached a part where it said, “Kostya has no one”. I looked at the picture of him and my heart dropped as I realized it was the same boy that I had been praying over the last couple of days. A totally different organization was advocating for him as well. It was in that moment that I realized that we were the family that God intended him to be with.
(Kostya, at his orphanage in Antratsit, Ukraine- March, 2013)
The purpose of this blog entry is not to tell the entire adoption story and all of the details that went into getting Kosya here, but to give you an idea of how some of the children turn out later on down the road. The story that I started above began in 2013, but a lot has transpired since then. When Kostya first came to America, he was a sophomore in High School. He was able to take some English as a Second Language classes at the local college and began attending a regular public school. Through many trials, tribulations, laughs and love– Kostya earned his High School diploma in 2017. After High School he continued his education at a local college and gained experience in the manufacturing industry. He is now 23 years old and is a machinist. His job is considered a pretty good one in our area.
(Kostya running a machine at Vanaire, Inc. in Gladstone, MI- May, 2020)
Kostya has had many dreams along the way. Coming from where he came from, he never thought those dreams would become a reality. He dreamt of having his own car, a dirt bike, a good job and eventually having his own home. I am happy to report that as of early this year, all of those dreams have now come true for him. Kostya is finally living the life that he wanted and he says he wouldn’t change a thing. Kostya has started to understand that if you work hard, your goals can be attained. He is now in the process of developing new ambitions.
I wanted to sit down with Kostya and ask him questions that might be beneficial to others. I feel like his perspective on his life is best shared in his words. The first question that I asked him was, “What were you most afraid of when coming to America?” His response was simple, “I wasn’t really “afraid”, but I was a little scared of the idea of not being able to understand people and I honestly didn’t know what to expect”. When you think about it…these kids really have to take an even larger leap of faith than we do in the adoption process. We have the ability to get glimpses and stories of their pasts, we can speak the language of where they are going, we are comfortable when we get back home into our beds…newly adopted children have to adjust and accept their new realities. It is a lot to ask and it is not always pretty.
The second question that I asked him was, “What were the hardest things that you came across in school and in family life when you first came here?” He explained that school in general was difficult for him. It was hard to pay attention because he didn’t understand all of the words. Have you ever sat through a movie that was in a different language? I have in Ukraine, I can tell you that it is boring not understanding the language and eventually the talking puts one to sleep! I imagine that happened a lot in school.
When it came to family, Kostya mentioned that it was difficult for him to listen to us as parents. But in all reality, why wouldn’t this be hard? I mean, we hadn’t had time to earn his trust, before coming here he could run free and it didn’t matter because no one at the orphanage truly cared what he did. So now he has gone from not being accountable to anyone and doing whatever he wanted to rules and people who genuinely loved him and wanted to make sure that his choices were not self destructive. Kostya says he absolutely had a desire to have a family. He says that he is thankful that God gave him people around him that are good and kind and that it wasn’t easy to let people into his life but he did it and for that he is glad. A little later on in the interview I asked him what advice he had for other kids that were just being adopted. His reply was, “I would tell them to listen to the advice of older people and always ask your parents for help when you need it”. I’ll take this as a win. Kostya wishes that adopted kids from Ukraine would understand that they are being given a second chance. He has seen many kids (friends of his) take the opportunity and throw it away. Today, they are either living a hard life here in America or they went back to Ukraine where no one was waiting for them. This breaks his heart.
Kostya wants other kids to know that in order to have nice things, you need to work for them! He never had a job in Ukraine and when he first started working at McDonald’s he was thrilled to have a check! This allowed him to start working towards his goals. He started out with a $1200 Jeep for his first vehicle. Along the way, he would save some money then sell his vehicles and buy up. He currently has his dream car…a BMW!
Kostya’s story is a good one. It almost didn’t happen because of the “exterior” of who Kostya was in Ukraine and situations he was involved with- most people would have ran away from him. But as much as we thought we should run in the other direction, God pulled us even stronger to him. We are so thankful as behind that hard facade…there was a young, sweet kid with a heart of gold longing for a better life. All he wanted was to have a place in this world that he could call his own. We are very proud of Kostya and pray that he continues to follow his dreams and be the best possible version of himself. Only God could have orchestrated our lives with Kostya and what he has planned for him.
Written and submitted by Brandy Torvinen, P143 Host Family and P143’s Financial Director. With contributions from Kostya Torvinen