AN ADOPTION LOVE STORY
NAPERVILLE/WHEATON–Nothing expresses family love more than the Gelande family motto, “You were born from my heart”.
Twenty-four-year Naperville residents, Mike, a CFO for Etnyre International and Barb a Special Education Teacher at Hubble Middle School in Wheaton, dreamed of having a family. They desired to adopt a pair of siblings and embarked on the adoption journey in 2006 with European Adoption Consultants (EAC).
Although it took about two years to finalize, the couple was eventually connected with Lilia (7 ½) and Misha (6) and headed to a small town 2,400 miles east of Moscow in January 2008.
“I will never forget walking out of the orphanage with two beautiful children,” Barb shares.
Although both Lilia and Misha had medical issues including Rickets (a vitamin D deficiency), and were extremely malnourished causing underdevelopment for their ages, Barb and Mike let their love propel the healing of their children, who were truly born from their hearts.
They went through years of growth hormone injections to aid in their growth; and along the way, they also learned that both kids had FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).
“Like autism, FASD has degrees of severity. Our daughter was less affected than our son. This led to many years of counseling, biofeedback, and behavior problems with our son,” Barb reveals. “Our adoption story came with real struggles. More than we could imagine. However, I will always remember this quote by Sue Atkins, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one. Even with the struggles, we have always kept a positive outlook and searched for the good in each day.”
Love will conquer all for the Gelande family and they continue to celebrate the successes. Today, Lilia is 20 years old and attending National Louis University and majoring in Elementary Education. Misha is 19 years old and a senior at Camelot in Naperville. The family is members of Alleluia Lutheran Church in Naperville and continue to expand their hearts by sponsoring a child named Nicholas in Peru with Compassion International through the church.
Every January 25th is "Gottcha Day". They make Russian food and look through old photos and remember how thankful they are to be a family.