Wallers change lives of Ukrainian orphans
by Ana Ivey
One year ago today, the lives of three Ukrainian orphans were forever changed. With the adoption process finalized, Max, Ola, and youngest sister Anna hopped on a transatlantic flight to America with Senoia residents John and Josee Waller. The Wallers officially became “mom and dad” to the three Eastern European siblings.
“I had always wanted to adopt,” says John Waller, a Fayetteville native and Christian recording artist. “It was something that was always in my heart, but Josee was never on the same page because we were having our own babies.”
But after the couple gave birth to their fifth child, Josiah, Waller’s wife had a change of heart.
“We were at one of my concerts in Nebraska,” said Waller, “and there was a family there that had several adopted children from China. One of them really took to Josee. She just bonded with this little girl and after that she said she was ready to adopt.”
As their journey toward adoption began, the couple prayed for guidance. At first, they looked to China. But one night in a dream, Waller caught a glimpse of his now-daughter Anna.
“In the dream, I was in an orphanage with a lot of older kids and they swarming around me wanting to shake my hand,” said Waller. “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little girl sitting by herself, shy, with bangs down in her face. I asked her what her name was, and she told me it was Anna.”
Two days later, the Wallers learned about an organization, Project 143, based in Highlands Ranch, Colo. The non-profit gives U.S. families opportunities to host children from Ukraine, Latvia, and China. Friends of the Wallers contacted the agency and shared the details of his dream.
“Within a couple of hours, we got an email with a picture,” said Waller. “She looked just like the girl in my dream, and her name was Anna.”
Immediately, the couple began making plans to host Anna and her brother Max for the summer of 2012. They also began filling out adoption papers without the siblings’ knowledge.
“We wanted to be prepared so that by the time they left that summer, we could say to them, ‘We’re coming to get you as soon as humanly possible,’ ” said Waller.
Throughout the hosting and adoption process, the Wallers learned of a third sibling, Ola, who had been placed in another orphanage and separated from her siblings for more than seven years. Max was convinced that she had been adopted. He was wrong. The Wallers found themselves in a predicament.
“By law we had to go meet her, and we were going to literally have to ask a judge to separate them legally forever,” said Waller. “That threw us for a loop. We decided before our first trip to Ukraine that we were going to adopt her as well. We were going to bring them all back together. We were not going to go over there and separate them for good.”
To celebrate his three adopted children, Waller, a prolific songwriter, wrote and recorded the song “Orphan” for his new CD “Life is A Gift.” The video for “Orphan,” recorded primarily at Rock Ranch in Upson County back in November, was released earlier this month. With well over 25,000 views on YouTube, the video has served as an inspiration to families who are contemplating adoption.
One viewer left this comment: “Today I was feeling a little stressed about embarking on this journey. All of the ‘concerned’ opinions have dampened my spirit, and this video was exactly what I needed to remind me of the importance of what I am doing. Thank you! ”
Anna, who spent several years praying to be united with her family, portrays herself in the video. The 11-year-old, who loves to read her Ukrainian Bible and paint, is home educated along with the rest of her siblings.
Waller is best known for his song “While I’m Waiting” featured in the movie “Fireproof” starring Kirk Cameron. His song “As For Me and My House” was nominated for a Dove Award for Short Form Music Video of the Year in 2012 by the Gospel Music Association. Waller and his band will take the stage for a free CD release concert beginning at 6 pm today at New Hope Baptist Church, 551 New Hope Road, Fayetteville. His new CD will be available for a donation.