By Hannah Lester
LEE COUNTY —
Leslie Reid Brasher and her husband, Jon, adopted their son David from Ukraine 20 years ago. And now, David wonders if he’ll ever get to visit his birth home again.
Leslie and her husband had experienced years of infertility before turning to adoption. Ukraine wasn’t their original choice — they looked domestically first, then at Russia.
Domestic adoption didn’t pan out for the couple, so they turned abroad.
“We were looking at Russia, because Ukraine wasn’t on our radar, simply because I’d been to Latvia (on a mission trip),” she said. “And Latvia, wasn’t, at the time, open to adoption internationally. And while we were looking at Russia, the cost to adopt from Russia at the time was about $36,000. And we, neither one of us were making very much money at the time.”
At that time, one of the couple’s pastors asked if they’d considered Ukraine. One thing led to another, and now David has been living in America for 20 years.
He was almost 6 when they adopted him from Ukraine. He’d been 3 years old when his adoption center found him on the streets.
Leslie said that David doesn’t remember much about his birth home, but had always imagined going back to visit.
“Part of him, what he said when he saw this going on was, ‘I guess I’ll never get to go back again,’” Leslie said.
David’s orphanage was mentioned early on in the news reports as having been attacked.
“We still have connections with people there,” Leslie said of the people they met in Ukraine. “He is actually from Kramatorsk, which is in the Donetsk region. Where, of course, the Russians have attacked and taken over and done terrible things … We’ve remained in touch with people there and are extremely concerned about what’s happening.
“… It breaks our hearts, it absolutely breaks our hearts. We know there are people we haven’t heard from, people from his orphanage.”
She encouraged everyone to pray that the conflict in Ukraine ends soon.
Leslie, an artist, is raising money to help those in need in Ukraine. She has been painting cards and prints with sunflowers, Ukraine’s national flower, to sell for donations.
“I’ve done several sunflower paintings, and made notecards and prints of them, and 100% of the proceeds that go from any sales of those cards and prints, the proceeds are going to an agency called Send Relief (sendrelief.org),” she said. “And 100% of it goes to humanitarian relief on the ground, either in Ukraine or on the borders, helping with the refugees as they come out.”
Leslie said she gave a donation of $200 last week and plans to donate more, as items continue selling. To find her art, contact Leslie at email@example.com.
“Until this over, which is years, I think 100% of what I make from any of the sunflower things are going to support the help, either through Send Relief or Samaritan’s Purse,” she said.