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March 18, 2014

Overcoming obstacles

GREENVILLE — On Sunday, residents of Crimea voted to secede from the Ukraine and to Russia, causing more unrest and political turmoil in the region.

This could further complicate an already trying adoption process for Rick and Julie Prettyman. 

Rick pastors Aldersgate Church in Greenville, and recently adopted a brother and sister, Sveta, 18, and Landon, 13, from an orphanage in Odessa, Ukraine last year.

Rick said both the Prettyman’s and their new son and daughter have been making the adjustment to the adoption and living in another country.

Rick thought the family would not be adopting again anytime soon.

But Rick received a Facebook message from Sofija, Sveta’s roommate at the orphanage in Odessa, asking to be adopted.

Sofija was poised to be adopted by another family, but that family had to withdraw their adoption of her, leaving her in the orphanage.

The United States does not allow adoptions for children in other countries when they turn 16, unless they have a sibling, which is why they were able to adopt Sveta and Landon.

Sofija’s turns 16 in May.

“We felt like the Lord has opened this door and we need to step through,” he said, adding there was not much discussing before the couple knew they had to attempt to adopt her. “[As Christians] we are called to care for the fatherless.”

Having just spent $35,000 to adopt Sveta and Landon, Rick said it is difficult for them to raise the $25,000 to adopt Sofija in such a short time, which is why they are asking for help.

Aldersgate Church now has a designated fund for the church to give toward the adoption, and Julie’s sister also set up a website dedicated to raising funds for the family.

Ukraine is classified by the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security as having a “High” crime threat, having high rates of banking, dating and marriage scams, including drugs and prostitution.

When children age out of orphanages in Odessa, they are put out on the streets with no viable skills for jobs, and with Ukraine still recovering from a recession, not many are to be found.

“Statistics are fairly high of boys who age out going to prison,” he said.

Rick is glad to have gotten Sveta and Landon out, and longs to adopt Sofija out of that situation.

“When we went to adopt, Sveta was in a trade school, basically an orphanage for girls,” he said.

The Prettyman’s said they felt called to adopt older children, since

“When we got there, her [Sveta’s] director said she was the first one adopted from there,” he said. “They get this sense of hopelessness when they turn 15.”

Julie is hopeful they will be able to adopt Sofija, and plans to take Sveta with her to serve as a translator between Sofija and Julie. 

Having spent a year in America, Julie said it will be interesting when Sveta goes back to Ukraine

“It will be different seeing Ukraine from American eyes,” she said.

Julie said even though some of her friends are worried about her going to Ukraine during the political unrest, she said the missionaries she will be staying with while there have reassured her about the trip.

A total of $8,600 of the $25,000 goal has been raised for the Prettyman’s to adopt.

With two months left, the Prettyman’s need to reach that goal in order to adopt Sofija.

“Time is of the essence,” he said.

For more information, and to donate, visit

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