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Enumclaw couple looking to adopt a new way of life

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

Valerie McKay's best friend was adopting two teen-age girls from a Russian orphanage. There were two boys, also teen-agers, she knew needed a home, but she couldn't adopt. She turned to McKay and asked her friend to bring pictures of Yuriy, 14, and Losha, 13, to the congregation at Wabash Presbyterian Church and see if someone there who could open their home and their hearts.

It turned out to be McKay and her husband George.

"Oh, look at those boys," McKay said, remembering how she felt when she saw the photograph. "How are you going to say no to that - say no to giving them an education, or a good life."

In some ways it was the easiest decision in the world for the Mc-Kays. In other ways it was the toughest. Valerie McKay, a substitute teacher in the White River School District, had just opened a business, Massage Therapy Reflexology in Buckley. George, who has two grown children, who oddly enough were foreign exchange students to Russia years ago, was just starting in the teaching profession. Their tiny house on the outskirts of Enumclaw was not equipped to handle two more people. Even their car wasn't big enough to haul around a new-found family. Simply, they weren't prepared for an instant family.

But the McKays have had time to get ready.

The boys were part of a Project Hope visit last August. About 30 orphans from Russia made the trip to Washington to try and find homes. McKay said the boys earned the trip by displaying good behavior and earning good grades. Of the 30 children who made the trip, three did not find homes, including the two boys.

McKay said they weren't adopted due to their ages.

"People didn't reject them. They just didn't consider them," McKay said. "They were just over looked because they're older."

Their age also makes it even more urgent, McKay said, to get them here.

According to McKay, when the boys turn 16 they will be consider adults and forced onto the streets.

McKay said the brothers have been in an orphanage their entire school lives. They were abandoned by their mother, and their father lost custody due to substance abuse. A paternal grandmother cared for them until she became too old and then put them in the orphanage.

Although the McKays have not met the boys, they have talked with them on the phone (through an interpreter) and exchange letters regularly. According to Valerie, the Russian government requires them to meet the children face-to-face twice. The McKays are trying to schedule a trip for this month or in June. They are hoping their second visit will be for a court appearance and to take the boys home to Enumclaw.

The McKays said it's a long process, and none of the kids from the summer visit have arrived in the United States yet.

The wait has been beneficial for the McKays. It has given them a chance to raise the $40,000 it takes to cover traveling, paperwork and adoption fees. Currently they are about $10,000 shy, but are working with Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries to help raise the money.

The men at Wabash Presbyterian Church volunteered their time and talents to turn the McKays' garage into additional living space. The couple also purchased a larger, used vehicle.

The McKays said people wishing to make tax-deductible donations can send them to Kingdom Kids Adoption Ministries, 8625 N. Whitehouse Dr., Spokane, Wash. 99208. Donations should specify Yuriy and Losha or McKay adoption. For more information about Kingdom Kids call 509-465-3520 or visit the Web site at www.kkadoption.com. Those who do not need a receipt can donate directly to P.O. Box 2005, Buckley, 98321.

For fun, the McKays are also collecting LEGOs for the boys to play with when they get here. To donate, call 253-288-2446.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com

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