Christmas is a time for families. And a Brookings family has two new reasons to celebrate this holiday. The Weber family adopted two children in two months in 2010. They went a great distance to make their family a reality.
Erick and Joni Weber always knew they wanted a family. And they also knew that meant adoption was their only option.
"Russia wouldn't accept us because my husband had previously had cancer so we're not the perfect parents," Joni Weber said.
"Due to medical issues we had no other option. And it's been on our heart since we got married that is an option for us to pursue," Erick Weber said.
They set their sights on International adoption programs. And on children, not infants. When the Weber's decided to adopt from the Ukraine, they didn't know the red tape they'd have to work through.
"There's times when it gets extremely frustrating and discouraging but you put that aside as well and focus on the light at the end of the tunnel," Erick said.
"Pregnant women gain weight, get sick, have morning sickness, get ill. I wake up, write another check and then get ill," Joni said with a laugh.
That meant countless trips through the Sioux Falls airport. The process for each child took up to a year or more. It also meant having their finger prints taken on five separate occasions and down-sizing their house to finance the adoptions.
"When you see something is not right you can't do anything. You want to scream inside, want to change this but you can't . It's reality for them," Joni said.
But the family photos show the new reality of three children now American Citizens with a lot to learn and the promise of a life unlike anything a Ukrainian orphanage could ever provide.
"Misha came in 2008 and Mikah came this year right before halloween and Lyena came two weeks ago," Joni said. "Look at these beautiful children. How can you say no? In our cards this is what was meant to be," she said.
Both boys are nine years old and Lyena is 11. They're still adjusting to their new life and to a new language.
"We don't know the word for two days from now in Russian, so we just say tomorrow twice," Erick said.
This is the first Christmas the whole family will celebrate. Like every other family, it is a time when they'll give thanks for the blessings they share together.
"But this is the route we chose and we're so happy be have because we aren't able to have kids of our own. And it's a process," Joni said.
It's the process that's brought them all together. The weber's only had about fifteen minutes to choose their children from a book at the Ukranian orphanages. They have not ruled out future adoptions, but plan to focus on their family right now.