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

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

"My husband wasn't at his job, and he's 100 percent commission, so he's not making any money," Luke said. "Plus I was concerned for my kids who were being babysat by friends and relatives back home."

Before the hearing, each of the sisters were required to write letters stating they wanted to be adopted. If each of them didn't agree, the adoption would not be permitted. When they entered the courtroom, they sat across the room from the Lukes. Each girl was asked to stand and asked if she wanted to leave everything she knew and all of her friends at the orphanage to go with these strangers.

"The girls got up and said, 'We don't have any friends there, and yes, we want to go with these people,'" Luke said. "They had to be these brave little soldiers in front of all these people."

The judge then turned to the Lukes to make their statement about why they wanted to adopt the girls.

"They asked me questions, but they didn't want to hear from me, they wanted to hear from Dave," Luke said. "They said to him, 'We heard you're Mormons; what does that mean? The girls have been baptized in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, so are you going to make them go to your church?'"

Luke expressed that she didn't expect such a question and was concerned that their answer would be viewed as disrespectful.

"People don't know about Americans very well over there, let alone Mormons. So I was thinking, 'OK, Dave. If you've ever lied in your life, tell the judge whatever she wants to hear.'"

Knowing how strong the Ukrainian people were in their beliefs, Luke simply wanted to take her new daughters home. But just then, Dave Luke began to explain what it means to be a Mormon — the importance of the family and many of the church's beliefs. It was then that he said, "Of course we're going to expect the girls to go to church with us. They're part of our family, and we go to church."

"I was just dying," Lee-Ann Luke said. "I was thinking, 'Oh we are in such big trouble because they are not going to want to hear about these arrogant Americans.' ... But all of a sudden, it was like the floodgates opened and you could feel every prayer and blessing coming across from America. The room literally glowed — you could just feel a light come into the room, the faces on the people softened. I just knew what he was saying was the right thing."

A couple of hours later, the judge came back and read the adoption declaration. The Lukes waited for their interpreter to turn to them and translate the decision: "They're yours! The girls are yours!"

Five new sisters for the new year

Once the decision was made, the Lukes only had to wait an additional two weeks before they could bring the girls home. Christmas was coming, so Lee-Ann Luke traveled home to be with their other five children while Dave stayed with the five girls until they were allowed to leave the country. Once at home, Luke began to make preparations for the girls, with the support of her children.

"My birth kids were extremely accepting, which was just incredible," Luke said. "Ruthie had long blonde hair, and when she found out that the girls' hair was really short, she cut her hair off really short and donated it. She wanted the girls to feel like they fit in with her."

The youngest of her children, Zane, was willing to give up his cowboy-designed room for his five new sisters. The room was decorated as a blue princess room, and Zane's bed was moved into his dad's study. Members of the Lukes' local LDS congregation gathered clothes and other items in order to prepare for the girls' arrival.

It was Dec. 31, 2005, when Dave Luke returned home with his five new daughters.

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