Until We All Come Home
About the Guest
Adoption is a beautiful gift. But like many good gifts, it often requires patience as you wait for God’s timing. Kim de Blecourt, talks about the exciting journey she and her husband, Jahn, embarked to adopt their Ukrainian son, Jake.
Adoption is a beautiful gift.
Until We All Come Home
Bob: It was April of 2010 when Kim de Blecourt, along with her two children and their Ukrainian driver, were trying to cross the border between the Ukraine and Moldova. Kim says the guards were making her nervous—really nervous.
Kim: It’s intimidating. The officers look very much like SS officers. They’re dressed in long, black coats and very tall, brimmed black hats. They have automatic rifles on their shoulders. A couple of them will have not-friendly looking dogs on chains.
Bob: In the course of adopting her four-year-old son, Kim had been in this spot many times before, usually on a bus.
Kim: This day was different because this time I was in a passenger car, and we were leaving Ukraine. A warrant had been put out for my son. The prosecutor in our adoption case had put out an all-points bulletin, countrywide.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, May 27th, Memorial Day here in the United States. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Today, we’ll hear a story of adoption and love—a love that persists until everybody gets home safely. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition. We’re going to hear a heroic story here today. We ought to stop and just acknowledge that, here in the United States, this is a day that honors heroism.
Dennis: Memorial Day is a great day. It’s good to see flags being draped around graveyards, honoring those who have given their lives on behalf of the freedom we enjoy.
Bob: Not just a day for the pool and the picnic—it’s a day that we ought to stop, and recall, and reflect on those who have given their lives for their country. If you’re a family of a soldier—a service person—who paid the ultimate price—
Dennis: I agree!
Bob: —we just want to say, “Thank you,” from a grateful country, “for your son, or daughter, or loved one’s service to our country.”
The story we’re going to hear today is a different kind of heroism, as I said, Dennis. This is heroism on the part of the orphan. I know that’s a subject that, for years, has been dear to your heart.
Dennis: I can pound the table about this. As you know, earlier this month, you and I had the privilege of going to Summit IX, which is a summit for orphans, foster care, and adoption. This year, we approached 3,000 people, there in Nashville, really giving voice to those who have none. Today, we’re going to hear a story that—well, I have to tell our listeners, on the front end, not every international adoption involves the Secret Service.
Bob: Yes, most of them don’t.
Dennis: Yes, this is quite a story.
Bob: Kim de Blecourt blogs for a ministry that she leads called Nourished Hearts. She is an orphan advocate. She and her husband Jahn have been married since 1997. They have two children, Jacey and Jake. They live in Michigan. The story we’ll hear is a story she tells in the book Until We All Come Home.
For Kim and Jahn de Blecourt, adopting their son Jake in the spring of 2010 was the culmination of a long and arduous process.
Kim: I can tell you, without hesitation, that ours is not the normal path.
Bob: Kim traces her heart for adoption back to a mission trip she went on with a group from her church in 2006. The trip was to the Odessa region of Ukraine. After more than two weeks of ministry and outreach, they spent a little time, their last day in the city of Odessa, doing some sightseeing.
Kim: I was coming back up the Potemkin Stairs—the famous staircase in Ukraine. There was a group of children—that I knew, immediately—nobody has to explain this to you when you see street children—the immense coatings of dirt on their skin, the condition of their nails—when you see them—you know what they are. They were approaching me for money. I was warned off by someone in the group. He said: “No, no, no. You can’t give them money. It’s actually more dangerous for you to give them money. They could be rolled for it later on. We don’t know what they’re going to do with it. Somebody else may be collecting it from them on the other end. Really, it’s just not a good idea.” They didn’t shoo the children along, they just kind of collected us back to themselves.
Dennis: How many children were there?
Kim: Three—three boys. That was my first run-in with the orphan condition in another country. It broke my heart. God broke my heart for the orphan on that very day. [Emotion in voice]
Bob: Kim and Jahn already had a daughter, Jacey, but the street children in Odessa were awakening something new in Kim.
Kim: You know how God works with pebbles? That was the first pebble at my window.
Bob: Contrary to the usual reluctant husband pattern, Jahn was fully-onboard with Kim’s new vision.
Kim: You have to understand the incredible man that I’m married to. He said, “You know, I have been thinking the same thing!” God had already been ahead of me. He said: “You know, we really need to pray about this, Kim. We really need to look into this.”
Bob: They turned to the same place most people get information about adoption. They went to the internet. They discovered that Ukraine was closed to international adoption. So, at that point, they explored other alternatives.
Kim: It took us about a year, upfront, just to get through the fact that we weren’t going to adopt from Ukraine: “Well, okay; then, what are we going to do? Are we going to adopt from another country? Well, let’s look at the children here in our own country.” So we looked at and flirted with domestic adoption. We had women choosing us because here—it’s the other way—birth mothers choose the family. There was no settledness—there was no peace with that decision.
Every time a birth mother would choose us, something would always stop it. Then, Ukraine reopened. We thought, “Oh, well, that’s why!” We had prayed long and hard that we would know the child that we were to adopt because, in Ukraine, it’s a little bit different. They hand you a number of file folders, and they have you choose whom you’re going to go visit.
Dennis: Talk about looking at pictures of kids and reading about their backgrounds.
Kim: Yes, and can I just tell you how demeaning the whole process feels?
Kim: It just felt dehumanizing or something.
Bob: The clinical approach to adoption made the de Blecourts feel like they were almost shopping for a child. The information they were given was sometimes unreliable, if not downright false. Kim said that, for parents trying to adopt wisely, the system felt like it was stacked against them.
Kim: It very much seems one-sided. They want to place these children in families. I can’t always say that a lot of thought or concern is given as far as, “Will this child be a good fit in that family?” and, “Will this family be able to give the child the care that they deserve?”
Kim: With a mother’s heart—with a parent’s heart—all you can see, in front of you, are these children who are so excited when you look them in the eye for the briefest of time.
Kim: And all of these children, around you, with their needs not being hidden.
Bob: You want to take all of them home!
Kim: Exactly! And they’re all calling you “Mama” and “Papa”. That’s what they tell them to call you. You’re sitting there, trying to make a discerning, God-like decision for your family. That’s all you want to do.
Bob: It took more than a month for Jahn, and Kim, and Jacey to find Sasha—an almost four-year-old boy—who would later become Jake de Blecourt.
Kim: The moment he came in the room, and was standing there, and he was kind of looking at us like: “Who are you? Why are you here?”—kind of a, “I don’t know you,” kind of look—Jahn turned to me and said, “This is our son!” We both knew. That thing that we had prayed for—for all of those months before—God delivered in a way that was beyond our reasoning. We couldn’t understand how we both knew, but we did!
Bob: In a typical Ukrainian adoption, at this point in the process, when the adoptive parents have said, “Yes,” to a particular child, there’s a court hearing; there’s a judge’s decision; and then, there’s a ten-day waiting period to allow for appeals or other legal challenges. Then, there’s more paperwork until the child is ultimately issued a visa to travel to the United States.
It all ought to take about two weeks, but the de Blecourts were on a different path. They had no idea the ordeal they were about to undergo.
Kim: The judge ruled in our favor, but the prosecutor didn’t like the fact that we weren’t adopting the half-siblings.
Bob: Sasha had an older half-brother and an older half-sister. Kim and Jahn knew about them; however, the brother was being adopted by another family. He was unavailable for them to visit. They did meet the sister, who was about to graduate from secondary school and attend a trade school. She told them she didn’t want to be adopted. The de Blecourts, at that point, took the next step.
Kim: We got the copies of the first proceeding. I processed Sasha to become Jake, out of the orphanage.
Dennis: So, you had the birth certificate, then.
Kim: Yes, we had our “Gotcha Day” on September 1, 2009, finally.
Bob: So, again, I’m thinking, “September 2nd, we’ve got your airplane tickets and we’re out of the country.”
Kim: Not so fast! During that time, the prosecutor had filed a letter of intent to appeal, stating that he was going to appeal the fact that the judge set aside the law—requiring that all sibling groups be adopted together—and allow us only to adopt Sasha. So, in filing that letter of intent, he was supposed to have the appeal filed with the court. Well, he missed that date. They even gave him a couple of days after, and it didn’t show up.
So, the judge granted us his findings. We took it to the orphanage. We processed Jacob out of the orphanage. We were on our way back to Odessa. That was the only place in the entire country that we could get his birth certificate. The minute I walked into the office, the two women there started sobbing—not just crying—like screeching. It turns out that the prosecutor had called ahead and made sure they knew not to give me that birth certificate, no matter what!
Bob: To go against the judge’s ruling.
Kim: I don’t know what verbiage he used with them, but what I saw ahead of me were two very frightened women—so much so that when I physically walked in the office, they lost it.
Bob: Kim, what was going on here? Why was the prosecutor so intent on keeping this from happening? Do you know?
Kim: We are never going to know.
Bob: Jahn flew back to the U.S. to go back to work—they were out of money. Back in Ukraine, Kim actually began to be concerned for her own safety.
Kim: What the facilitator came back and told me was that what he probably wanted to do was get rid of me. They wait until you leave your flat. Then, they plant the bags of heroine among your stuff. Then, when you come back, the police come back with the photographers. Then, you’re gotten rid of. [Emotion in voice]
Bob: Out of the country?
Kim: Usually in jail.
Bob: The American Embassy assisted as best they could, but they warned Kim that she would probably be arrested if she left her apartment. There were people who offered to help Kim sneak across the border to escape, but Kim and Jahn were determined to wait on the Lord—to do things legally.
Kim: How were they going to see God in my walk if I tried to get ahead of them?
Bob: They had no idea how long the wait would take. In March of 2010, Jahn flew back to Ukraine to attend a third court trial. The prosecutor, who had made life so difficult for them, was nowhere to be found. The judge proceeded with the trial, and Jake’s adoption was approved again. There was another ten-day waiting period. Jahn flew back home; and then, everything began to pull together.
Kim: Once God wants you out, He makes everything kind of click. What was supposed to be a couple of weeks—you know, we had to go through the ten-day waiting period—but after that, it can take another week or more to get everything that you need. That all happened for us within 48 hours.
Bob: With all of the paperwork in order, Kim and the children traveled by train to Kiev, ready to purchase their tickets and to fly home. But at the airport, it became obvious that all the flights had been canceled. The de Blecourts were not flying anywhere.
Kim: People are sitting around in small groups on the floor. They’re crying. They’re playing cards. Some are over here, drinking. I remember a young bride—with a wedding dress across her lap, crying—and what I took to be her intended sitting beside her. There are all of these little dramas playing out. One of the TV monitors in the Boryspil Airport, there in Kiev, had English subtitles. It was BBC. It said, “Europe is immobilized.”
Bob: Immobilized by the ash from the volcano in Iceland.
Kim: I actually talked out loud in English for the first time in months—so much so that my own voice startled me. I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
Bob: Apparently, God had more waiting for them to do. The next day, the flights were still postponed. Then the facilitator, Boris, called Kim.
Kim: He said: “What are you still doing in country? Kim, you can’t be here anymore. Remember, we thought that the prosecutor hadn’t filed an appeal and everything was fine and everything?” I’m thinking: “Oh, no! Where is this going?” He is going: “Kim, he has checked your file back out of the courthouse. Kim, I don’t think he’s done with you, yet. Kim, you have to get your son across the border. We don’t know what’s going on—who he knows, who he’s paying, what connections he has—but you can’t be here anymore.”
“I don’t know how to fly a plane, Boris! [Laughter] I don’t know what else to do here.” I’m a little out of my area again.
Kim: I said, “I’m going to call Adam—an American father who works in Ukraine.” He had been kind of taking care of us—kind of overseeing us—whether we were near to him or far. I thought he would know what to do.
He said: “Look! Look! We can’t mess around. We can’t wait for these planes. I believe what Boris is saying—if he’s picked up on anything—we need to get you out of here! If you can’t get on that plane tonight—if it doesn’t fly at 10 p.m. tonight—you need to catch that last train from Kiev back to Odessa, and we’ll drive you out.” I said: “I can’t go back to the Odessa Oblast. Are you kidding? That’s where the prosecutor has his power the most—it is in that oblast. That’s where he’s from!” “Kim, we’re going to take care of you.”
Sure enough, the plane didn’t fly. Sure enough, we caught that last train from Kiev, back into Odessa. It got in early the next morning—on Sunday morning. And, sure enough, Adam was there with a man named Sasha. This man—this Christian man——Ukrainian—took us in his little compact car and drove us to that border. He took our passports in for us, and he came back out to the car. He said: “Kim, there’s a problem with your passport. You have to come inside with me.”
I said, “My passport!?” I mean, we thought that the prosecutor would track us through Jake and his passport. We thought that if the warrant—that the judge had already rescinded and made sure that everyone was supposed to know had been rescinded—was still present, that it would be for Jake’s return. So, it was very shocking that he was saying that there was a problem with my passport. Then, he said: “Yes, we need to leave the children here in the car. Come on, let’s go!”
I said: “Whoa! No; nope, nope, nope! That’s not happening. Come on kids, we need to go.” He makes it very clear to me, “No, you need to come right now.” He calls over a guard to stand by the car. He said: “Kim, I’m going to lock the doors. Kim, this guard has given me his word. He is not leaving your children. Look, we’re parked right in front of the guardhouse. I’ve done everything I can. I’m a father. You’re going to have to trust me. Your kids are going to be okay. You have to get in here now!”
I had to do what I said I would never do. I had to get out of that car and walk away from my kids. [Emotion in voice] When I got inside, the officer, at the crossing, said, “You’re under arrest.” I had no idea what I was being arrested for—I just knew that I wasn’t going to stand up much longer. One of the young guards, there, got me a stool. I sat down on the stool, and this exchange went on between Sasha—this Christian man—and this officer. All I know is that, at the end of the exchange, the officer agreed with what Sasha said and he left. I never saw him again.
What happened was—he said: “Kim, I’m going to go back out to the car to get all of my information and bring it back in to the officers here. I’ll be right back.” I said: “All of your information? What are you doing? Oh, tell the kids that I’m okay, and don’t tell them I’ve been arrested. Don’t mention anything like this.” “Yes; yes.” He goes, and he comes back.
The reason that I’m so upset is because a Ukrainian never gives up their information. They never want anyone, within the country, to have them on any kind of list for any reason. What he has done is he has laid down all of his information for me.
Dennis: Oh, wow!
Kim: He has taken personal responsibility for me so that I can continue on my journey.
Bob: That self-sacrificing act on the part of Kim’s driver enabled them to cross the border into Moldova and to fly home without further trouble. Kim’s perspective on her own story puts the focus back where it needs to be.
Kim: God has an incredible heart for the orphan. God created family! What orphans need is a family. That’s the message I believe that God wants this story to deliver. [Emotion in voice]
Dennis: And it’s a story of the Father’s love for us—that He loved us enough He overcame obstacles, incomprehensible, to send His only Son to live a perfect life and then die on a cross for our sins—which, even though you suffered great things, compared to what He suffered, it is nothing—
Dennis: ——to adopt us. We, as His children, are to express His heart, just as you have. I want to thank you for being on our broadcast and sharing this story.
Bob: As you were talking about the link between us adopting children and God’s adoption of us, I was thinking of Dr. Russell Moore’s book called Adopted for Life, which we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. It’s a great book for parents who are thinking about adoption because it outlines a theological foundation for what it is that you are about to do. Dr. Moore and his wife understand it because they, themselves, are adoptive parents.
You can look for the book, Adopted for Life, when you go to our website, which is FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. We also have copies of Kim de Blecourt’s book called Until We All Come Home—that tells her story in an expanded way. Again, look for the book, Until We All Come Home, when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com.
And, if you should have a little extra time over Memorial Day weekend, you might want to investigate the online sale that we have going on here on the Memorial Day holiday. You can find out about how you can save some money on resources designed to strengthen your marriage and your family—how you can save money on attending a Weekend to Remember ® marriage getaway. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com; click the link—for the Memorial Day sale—for all of the information that we’ll have available there.
Finally, let me remind you that, at the end of this week, we will wrap up the month of May. This is the month in which we have been asking listeners to consider making a special pre-summer donation to help support FamilyLife Today and to help us take full advantage of the matching-gift opportunity that has been made available to us this month. Every donation we receive in May is being matched, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $603,000. We still have a little ways to go, but we still have a little time. So, we’re asking you if you would consider making an online donation today.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I CARE”, to make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone. In either case, we just want to say, “Thanks,” in advance, for whatever you’re able to do to help support this ministry. Please pray for us—that we will be able to take full advantage of this special matching-gift opportunity.
I hope you can join us back again tomorrow. We’ll have a former Marine joining us. His name is Donovan Campbell.
Donovan: Having served in the Corps, and watching the leadership principles that they apply here, and then taking a step back and say: “Wait a second! They’re just applying the leadership principles that Christ taught us!”
Bob: We’ll talk about that tomorrow. I hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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