Mormon family nearly doubles in size: 5 adopted sisters from Ukraine

Published: Thursday, June 27 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

"Monday morning we went to the agency for adoption in Ukraine, and they said, 'Do you have an appointment?' We said, 'No.' We didn't know we were supposed to have an appointment, we were just showing up to get these girls, and we didn't know how."

Eventually they were taken to the orphanage where the sisters lived.

"You just saw all these little faces, pushing on the glass," Luke said. "They were so excited to see you coming. They knew that somebody was going to get a mommy and daddy, and they all wanted it to be them. If we hadn't already been adopting five, it would have been super difficult — we knew that five was the max that we could do."

After arriving, the Lukes soon found out that was the last day the orphanage was going to allow the sisters to stay together. Because they had been in the orphanage for two years, with no adoption offers, they had made the decision to allow the girls to be split up. Several people had already shown interest in adopting the girls separately.

"If we hadn't shown up on that day, we couldn't have had the girls," Luke said. "The fact that Dave wanted to hurry was really good."

The Lukes were grateful they made it to Ukraine in time to adopt all five sisters. But having planned on only one or two adoptions, finances quickly became a problem. The cost was more than $100,000 to adobt the five sisters.

Once their finances were in order, the Lukes met their new children.

"We were down on the floor, and they all came running in," Luke said. "Dave scooped these girls up into his arms and he said, 'Aren't they beautiful?'”

His statement was heartfelt, Luke expressed. The girls had not been living in the best conditions, yet her husband immediately expressed his love for them.

"They didn't get clean clothes. They stunk. Their hair was short. Nadia and Julie had scabies and they'd had lice," Luke said. "They'd never had a tooth brush or toothpaste. Shampoo, combs, anything like that they'd never had. ... But they were just beautiful to him."

During the adoption process, the Lukes had to remain in Ukraine until everything was finalized.

"Luckily, Dave was in a job where he could just take off," Luke said. "It was a long process. There were no hotels or stores, or anything like that — which actually turned out to be a good thing because we ended up just living at the orphanage with the girls. We ate what they ate, so we knew how terrible it was."

Fighting for the adoption

But in trying to adopt the five siblings, the Lukes say they were under constant scrutiny from those at the orphanage and the adoption agency.

"They were very anti-American, so through the whole process they were very suspicious about what was going on," Luke said. "Nobody in Ukraine even has five kids, and we already had five kids, so they wondered, 'Why would you have 10?'"

According to the Lukes, others tried to stop the adoption process for their own reasons. A group from Italy had sponsored Ana to visit them every summer and did not want the Lukes to adopt her.

After forcing the orphanage director to give them the paperwork, the adoption process finally began. Eventually, the Lukes ended up in a court hearing where the judge made the final decision on whether the adoption could take place, and how long the waiting process would be.

"It was a really serious, hard battle," Luke said. "I got bacterial pneumonia and was really sick. I just wanted to go home, but we had to keep on going."

With Christmas approaching, the eager mother hoped and prayed for the minimal two-week waiting period.

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