Little sleep came to them that night in Russia. Scared, nervous and emotionally charged, Brian and Pam Freeman could not get a small redhead, brown-eyed boy out of their minds. Tomorrow they would meet him for the second time, but this time he would leave his homeland of Russia and fly across the ocean to his new home in the United States.
“The next morning when I walked in and saw Benjamin I just fell in love with him,” said Pam. “The moment when he walked over to Brian and sat in his lap I just knew everything was going to work out.”
Beginning the process to adopt began in 2004 for the Freeman couple. At the time, Brian was at home part time, teaching retirees and adults art as well as doing electrician work, all of which he still does. Pam was working as a human resources executive, but now is working as a children’s pastor at Desert Son Community Church.
Both didn’t like the idea of foster adoption because of the potential of losing the child, so they chose to go with international adoption. They went with American World Adoption Agency and chose Russia because they felt that God was calling them to that country.
“There’s a lot of children in orphanages due to the instability and poverty of the country,” said Pam. “That instability showed itself when what was supposed to be a nine-month process turned out to be two years.”
Adoption is no inexpensive journey for a family. The cost per child often ranges from $25,000 to $35,000, which includes the entire adoption process as well as travelling fees. In Russia, the expense can sometimes be on the higher end due to the required visit before the final adoption and court date. For families who choose the route of adopting a special needs child, grants are given to help.
The Freemans began their process to adopt by sending information to the agency regarding the age, gender and physical condition of the child that they were interested in adopting. A packet was sent to the agency giving details of their family and after almost two years, Russia sent them a referral in March 2006 of a 2-year-old boy named Benjamin. Benjamin was described as having minor special needs because he was developmentally smaller.
Two weeks later, the Freemans packed their bags and headed to Russia where they met Benjamin for the first time. On that trip, they received information that confirmed for the Freemans that Benjamin was meant to be with them.
“It was on March 18, 2004 that we officially decided that we wanted to pursue adoption in Russia. That exact same day and year we were told that a police officer found Benjamin abandoned,” said Pam. “I was crying because my only thought was ‘that’s definitely my baby’.”
Thankfully, prior to Russia’s rule that Americans can no longer adopt children from there, the Freemans decision to adopt two more children from a Russia, a year later after Benjamin’s adoption, was not affected by the law. In 2007, the Freemans pursued adoption once again in Russia, this time checking the ‘special needs’ box on the application form. The process took less time as they were soon sent referrals of 10-month-old Abby, who later was examined by a doctor and found to have no special needs, and 3-year-old Libby who was born prematurely and was born without her left tibia. In July 2008, the two girls were brought home and to their surprise experienced a more shocking reality of how hard a transition can be for internationally adopted children.
“Benjamin’s transition was really easy, but the girls’ first six months were really hard,” said Pam. “At the orphanage the girls had no boundaries on a lot of things, so that was a really hard adjustment.”
Even though those six months were hard, the Freemans never look back with regret on the journey they took to adopt their three children. Now they have five children, two of which are biological, 3-year-old Gideon and 1-year-old Ellie. Walking into their home you are greeted by at least three of the children, all with big smiles on their faces. Then a moment later you see Libby and Abby playing the Wii and Benjamin coming out dressed as a cowboy with a toy gun in hand. There is so much energy, joy and laughter filling their home and that is what Brian and Pam Freeman love about their family.
“They are all such a huge blessing to us,” said Pam. “Just knowing where they could be if we hadn’t adopted them to now seeing them and how they’ve physically grown a bunch and just blossomed makes it all worth it.”
It is apparent how Benjamin, 9, Libby, 8, and Abby, 6, are considered true blessings to the home.