Lifeline Children’s Services is committed to partner with and serve our families, doing everything possible to ensure a wonderful adoption experience! Each of the families below has given Lifeline permission to make their personal adoption experience available to families considering international adoption. These families have worked with Lifeline and would be happy to talk to you further about their own adoption experiences. To become a Lifeline reference email Dave Wood.
Kevin and Tammy Huckabee
We left the United States on August 9, 2008 to travel to Ukraine to adopt a new daughter and possibly a sibling of that daughter. We arrived in Ukraine and we were met by Ben Robinson at the airport. He had a beautiful sunflower for our daughter Alyssa that was traveling with us. Ben graciously helped us settled into our apartment and showed us around our area a little bit. That afternoon we met with Sasha. Sasha and Ben were both very helpful and kept in touch with us to find out if we needed anything. We also got to visit with Ben’s family at their home. What a wonderful experience. After our appointment it would seem that our family was going to grow significantly. We accepted a referral for three siblings. Jaryd 8, Jacob 4, and Kailyn 2. Sasha took us to Kirovograd where we spent the next four weeks.
Our translator Natasha was with us for the first five days. All the facilitators with Lifeline checked on us regularly. The Lifeline team was always at our beckon call if we needed translation. We were very comfortable in our apartment. We enjoyed learning new customs and seeing new sites of the city of Kirovograd. We were set up with a driver who was always there when we needed him for our travel back and forth to the orphanages. Sasha was back and forth between Kiev and Kirovograd to aid us in the court settings. We did have a few setbacks with the passports and birth certificates, but nothing that was attributed to the Lifeline team.
We returned to Kiev in Sasha’s car. It was quite full with three adults, four children, six suitcases, and a double stroller. I am sure that Sasha’s car had never been so full. We arrived back in Kiev and spent four more days there. The passport came and we finished all the paperwork at the embassy. Ben and Tanya made our last few days in Kiev very comfortable. We truly felt safe and comfortable in Ukraine. The Lifeline team was so accommodating. God definitely had prepared their hearts to be of assistance to us. We pray that someday we will get to meet them all again. We would love for our children to meet the people that facilitated them coming to be a permanent member of our family.
Jana and the Lifeline team in the United States were so helpful with all the questions that we had before we left to go to Ukraine. I do feel that this group truly is God lead. All during our stay in Ukraine, we were contacted by Jana by e-mail and by phone to make sure that everyone was meeting our needs. We had some paperwork that had to be done while we were in Ukraine and they worked with our family at home to get it all put together in a timely manner. We would be glad to speak to anyone who has any questions about going to Ukraine. Please contact us by e-mail here or by phone at 915-526-3610.
Greg and Melanie Maxwell
Our adoption journey began in November of 2007 when we first contacted Donna Houston and Lifeline to aid us in adopting. Shortly after that first meeting with Donna, we prayerfully decided God was leading us to adopt from Ukraine. Our next step was to meet with Jana Lombardo, who was our social worker and our “lifeline” throughout our entire adoption process. With her help, guidance, and assurance, we were able to make it through the home study, Hague training, and dossier preparation and completion pretty easily. At the time, we really could not believe how much training and reading were required to be able to adopt. The amount of information we were receiving often felt overwhelming and sometimes even depressing. But, with Jana’s encouragement we were able to persevere and even appreciate all the information we were being provided. We also attended a class provided by the UAB International Adoption Clinic during the early days of our journey. The information and training provided by the professionals from the clinic has proven to be so valuable to us throughout our whole journey.
We received the call we had been longing for from Jana in late December 2008, just a few short days before Christmas. We finally had an appointment to get our referral for adoption. It was scheduled for February 5th, 2009. Jana encouraged us to leave a few days prior to that date, so we scheduled our flight for February 2nd. We spent the entire next month getting things ready to go. Deciding what to take and weeding through what we might or might not need was definitely a big job….we packed and re-packed our suitcases several times. Jana set up a meeting for us with her and another family who would be traveling at the same time. We were given some great information on what to pack and how to finish preparing ourselves for our journey to Ukraine. We ended up taking our son Jackson, who was 5 at the time, and Greg’s Mother, Carol, who was going along to help us out. We arrived in Kiev on February 3rd and the whirlwind began. There was a man named Alexi waiting on us at the airport. He helped us grab our luggage and make it through customs in about 10 minutes. Outside customs, the Lifeline facilitator in Ukraine, Sasha, was waiting on us to drive us to our apartment in Kiev. He had secured us two bedrooms in an apartment that had been broken up into multiple rooms. The rooms Sasha secured for us were great and were really close to numerous restaurants to choose from. Sasha showed us where and how to exchange our money, got us set up with Internet access for our laptop, and gave us a cell phone for our use while in Ukraine. He was available at all times when we needed him with any type of question. While in Kiev, we also met Ben and his wife Tanya, who were there for great moral support…and of course, translation! All the people we met in those first days in Kiev were so great to us and we could not have made it without them.
We accepted the referral from the SDA for 2 little boys. They happened to be in an orphanage that was a few short kilometers from Sasha’s home town. He loaded us up and drove us about an hour and a half to Zhytomyr. He had already spoken with his friend still living in Zhytomyr and he had arranged a wonderful place for us to stay while in the process of the adoption. Sasha had arranged a driver for us and we ended up really getting to know him and really enjoying our time with him. Throughout our stay in Zhytomyr, we had Andrei as our facilitator and he did a wonderful job as well. Yet, Sasha was always in reach by cell phone if we had any further questions or needed clarification on anything. The Ukrainian staff was excellent! Sasha went above and beyond to help us in any way possible. Greg’s Mom even decided to go home a little early and Sasha came from Kiev about 9pm on a Friday night, took us to dinner, then drove her back to Kiev for her flight home! We were blessed to have such wonderful help while there!
Adopting these 2 boys has been one of the hardest, but most blessed things we have ever done. We have gone through so many emotions and changes in our family….before, during, and after traveling. We have only made it through it with God’s grace, provision, and guidance. He has been our rock throughout this whole experience. But, we are certain that He gave us the people at Lifeline to guide us and help us on our journey. Lifeline has been there for us since the very beginning and is still there for us as we are walking through adjustment to life at home. We have been personally affected by Donna Houston, Jana Lombardo, and Amy Dummier in ways we could never really thank them for. We will always be grateful to these women and to all of the folks at Lifeline for the support they gave us during this huge journey.
Chris and Ellen Cosper
Lifeline was instrumental in making our adoption in Ukraine possible. Upon our arrival at the airport in Kiev, Ukraine, we were met by an English speaking escort who guided us through baggage pick-up and customs. Our facilitator, Sasha, was waiting at the airport for us and drove us to our very comfortable accommodations in Kiev. Our small hotel was located in a neighborhood close to a large supermarket, convenience stores, a traditional Ukraine restaurant, pizza, TGIFriday’s and a great Italian restaurant both with English-speaking menus and servers. Our hotel provided a delicious breakfast. A local money-changing booth and telephone card stand were in the next block and large department stores were within walking distance. Our facilitator provided a telephone for us with Lifeline numbers already programmed in. Ben Robinson and his wife, Tanya, were so very helpful regarding Ukrainian Do’s and Don’ts and were just a phone call away for advice, suggestions and assistance in every facet of our process. Ben and Tanya, and Facilitator Sasha, met with us several times to make sure we had everything we needed and to be sure we were on time for all appointments and all documents were in order. Sasha drove us to our appointment with the SDA in Kiev for the all-important initial interview and served as translator and counselor while we discussed our options and looked at the children’s files the SDA had presented to us. Once we had made our decision, regarding children we wanted to visit, Sasha arranged for the proper documents from the SDA giving us permission to meet the Director of the children’s orphanage who then grants us permission to meet and visit the children. Sasha also secured our train tickets and drove us to the train station (along with our “too many” pieces of luggage) for our 12 hour train trip to the region where the two orphanages were located. Our two younger children were in an orphanage in Kramatorsk close to Donetsk and our older child was in an orphanage two hours away from them. Sasha had arranged for our translator/facilitator, Austop, to meet us at the train in Donetsk
Austop had already arranged visits with the Inspectors and Directors and the children by the time we had arrived. Austop handled all documents translations, copies and visits to notaries. Austop served as our drive in Donetsk, found us a temporary apartment in Donetsk for a few days and then arranged for us to stay with a wonderful Host family in the city where our two youngest children lived. The Host family, Sasha and Tanya Yakabowski, helped us to enjoy real Ukrainian family life-traditions, church, local grocery shopping and meals cooked at home. Sasha, the husband of the host family served as our driver to and from both orphanages and unofficial “translator” and local “trouble shooter” as we visited our children’s orphanages where no one spoke English. Tanya and her 14 year old daughter visited the children a few times with us and assisted a great deal as we shopped around town for toys and clothing for the children and then gifts for the staff of the orphanage and our going away party for the children when we were leaving.
All of the Lifeline “Family” (in the U.S. and in Ukraine) made our experience a pleasant one, handled everything in a very professional manner and prepared us as much as possible for our adoption process in a “very unusual” country. Ukraine “officials” have their own unique attitude about timelines, schedules, documents, appointment times-our Lifeline “Family” helped us get through it all. Our Birmingham counselor, Jana, was so supportive with suggestions, planning and e-mails before we went, even while we were in Ukraine and also after we returned home with the children. Lifeline’s manual for prospective parents is super. It guides you through every step of the process. We also attended several seminars and workshops in preparation (on line and in person). They were very informative.
I would highly recommend Lifeline Children’s Services, Inc. to anyone who is interested in international adoption.