Completing Family: The Strader Family's International Adoption Journey

Completing Family: The Strader Family's International Adoption Journey

4 min.
Linda Paula

The Strader family resides in Colorado, USA. Jazmine and Emily are the biological daughters of Russ and Denise, while Krista and Ella came into the world through different parents in the European country of Latvia. When the Strader family met Krista and Ella, their lives changed. Here’s Denise’s story:

Life’s Pathway

“Russ and I met in 1986. However, we started dating later because Russ was busy with his medical studies. We got married in 2004 and were blessed with two wonderful daughters, Jazmine and Emily. Russ is currently a practicing Cardiologist also serving as Chief of Cardiology, as well as Medical Director. I work as Clinical Director at TESSA of Colorado Springs, overseeing individual and group services for those impacted by domestic violence or interpersonal violence. As time passed, we felt that our family wasn’t complete, and we had more love to share with children.”

Denise and Russ Strader
Denise and Russ Strader

Life Changing Holidays

“In 2015, we chose to celebrate Christmas differently than in all other years. We opted to participate in the program «New Horizons for Children» instead of exchanging gifts. This international hosting program allows families to open their homes to orphans from other parts of the world during school breaks. That year, we welcomed two sisters from Latvia, Krista and Ella, into our home in the USA. Those Christmas holidays changed our lives forever.

All we knew about the girls’ background was that Krista and Ella were sisters who had to leave their parents’ family due to their biological parents’ inability to care for them. At the ages of 4 and 5, they were placed in an orphanage in Latvia, and we met them when they were 7 and 8 years old.

When they arrived, we immediately loved them. Krista and Ella stayed with us for over 4 weeks. All four of our daughters are of a similar age, and they quickly found a common language and understood each other well from the beginning. Our first experience with Krista and Ella was so positive that we eagerly looked forward to hosting them again.”

Four sisters, an international adoption story, Strader family
Four sisters, an international adoption story, Strader family

Back in the orphanage

“After their stay with us, Krista and Ella returned to the orphanage in Latvia. We were not allowed direct communication with the girls, and that broke our hearts. However, as time passed and we hosted them multiple times in our home during winter and summer breaks, the orphanage became more accepting of our communication. Eventually, the girls also gained access to the internet, making it easier for us to stay in touch.”

Adoption Process

“Overall, both girls visited us six times. From the first visit, we knew we would happily adopt them, but at that time, the girls were not legally available for adoption. Later, the situation changed, and the girls became eligible for adoption in the autumn of 2019. We expressed our interest to Latvian authorities, and the adoption process slowly began to move forward. After a lengthy process, both girls became legal residents of the United States.”

Family of six

“The girls have adjusted wonderfully, and both of them are socially active.

Krista excels in school and actively participates in competitive soccer. She studies the Latvian language with a tutor in Latvia and also learns German and Spanish, expanding her language skills to a total of five.

Ella, a determined fighter, initially faced challenges in her studies. However, after transitioning to a more suitable environment, she now feels much better. Ella is hardworking, exceptionally kind, and has a love for riding horses, reading, and knitting. She’s a true helper for the family.

To maintain their ties with Latvia, we ensure the girls have access to books and information about their birth country. We visit Latvia and put in efforts to ensure they maintain strong ties with their roots.

All four of our daughters share a deep understanding and connection with each other. We are truly grateful for the happiness and harmony that fills our family every day, making it complete.”

Four sisters, from left: Ella, Jazmine, Emily, Krista. Strader family
Four sisters, from left: Ella, Jazmine, Emily, Krista. Strader family

*Photos taken by Maria Randolph

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