SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — November is National Adoption Month, and a Sioux Falls family is celebrating an adoption anniversary from just over four years ago.
Randall and Jenny Pohl have always been big advocates of adoption. Jenny worked closely with “Reece’s Rainbow,” an organization that connects families with orphans worldwide that have special needs. Randall is 67 and Jenny is 58.
“My wife had been advocating for adoption of children with disabilities internationally for a number of years. And one particular child that she’d been advocating for some time, four or five years as a matter of fact, was Sealey,” Randall Pohl said.
They went through the adoption process and were approved. However, Sealey passed away before they could bring him home.
“Well, what do we do now? We’ve gone through all this work, and we’ve lost our child. We already had him adopted, in our hearts anyways. And so, we were looking at the paperwork and it said we’d been approved for two,” Randall said.
That’s when they found Nikolai and Viktor, who at time were 11 years old, and both have cerebral palsy.
Randall says they were essentially on their own in an institution with no family to care for them.
“These guys, once they age out of what’s called a ‘baby house,’ go into a secondary institution and out of there they are kicked out, essentially. I know for a fact that his brother Viktor would not survive that. Obviously, life and death decision for Sealey. We didn’t make it in time for him. We made it for these boys,” Randall said.
They made three trips to Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine to meet the two boys, go through the court process and bring them home.
“They had no education. They had no healthcare. They had nobody there to love them. You know, which is the greatest loss, and so we wanted to make up for that,” Randall said.
It’s the family’s hope that more people consider adopting, too.
“I would hope that if there’s anybody out there that has it in their heart to save a child with special needs that the process, as hard as it may be, is absolutely worth it. It’s vital to so many children,” Randall said.
Viktor is currently at the Sanford Children’s Hospital being treated for sepsis and pneumonia, but his dad says he is on the mend and they hope to be home for Thanksgiving.
Jenny Pohl created a Facebook group named “Sealey’s Legacy” where they share updates about how both boys are doing.