Born Of Revolution: Part 1
Ukrainian Orphan Finds Place With Bridgewater Family
Editor’s note: This story is the first of a two-part series that delves into the life of Bridgewater local Jax Lassiter, his adoption and life in the U.S.
Shortly after arriving in Kiev, Ukraine, Bridgewater local Jill Lassiter heard noises and music coming from the streets.
Assuming it was a parade, she turned to her husband and suggested they explore. They were quickly informed that the “parade” was actually a political march.
Angered by an allegedly corrupt presidential election, protesters were flooding into the streets of the capital.
Lassiter, who was visiting Ukraine with her husband to adopt their first child, says she never expected the international adoption process to be easy. She was prepared for paperwork, red tape, and long periods of waiting.
She never imagined she’d find herself at the start of a Ukrainian revolution.
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Now known as the Orange Revolution, the movement was nonviolent, but still caused considerable chaos.
“The [Protesters] were demanding a new government … things were just crazy; it was all a mess,” she recalled.
The Lassiters avoided the protests, politely declined to discuss their political opinions when asked by locals and kept up-to-date on the developing situation by visiting a local internet café.
However, after making their way to the adoption agency that had promised them a child, it became clear they were unable to escape all of the revolution’s effects.
“They said ‘nope, we have no kids for you,’ she remembered, adding that although no explanation was provided, she presumed it was due to the political turmoil. “I cried a lot.”
Crushed, the couple returned to their rented apartment and pondered their next move. Knowing many Ukrainian children needed homes, Lassiter decided she wouldn’t be leaving without one.
Extending their trip to five weeks, they continued to make visits to the agency, hoping for a different answer.
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Their determination paid off.
On one of their visits, they were matched to a 15-month-old boy. Lifting the “tiny, tiny” baby into her arms, Lassiter immediately knew she was meant to be his mother.
“After I held him, he was ours,” she recalled. “It was clear God had planned for us to be a family.”
While waiting to fly home to America, the Lassiters returned to their apartment with their new son, Jax. The revolution was gaining momentum, and even led to a power outage. Yet inside the walls of their darkened apartment, Lassiter says the atmosphere was serene.
“We were so happily wrapped up in loving our new baby boy,” she remarked. “In some ways, we were oblivious to what was going on in the outside world.”
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Even after returning to America,the Lassiters still had a few more challenges to overcome. Due to the understaffing at the orphanage, Jax had often been left in his crib and was thus physically behind many of his peers. Unable to crawl and still struggling to sit up, he required extra care from his family.
“He wasn’t what we picture as a one-year-old,” she said.
Not that anyone meeting Jax today would suspect he had a rough start to life. Now a well-spoken and energetic 9-year-old, it appears he made a successful transition.
“He adjusted well, and only took a few months to catch up,” his mother confirmed, smiling.
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The Lassiter family now includes an adopted daughter, Katya, and two biological sons — Ethan and Cullen. According to their mother, the Lassiter children make no divisions between each other.
“When Ethan was four, he was like ‘Mommy what country did I come from?’ ” she recalled, laughing.
Despite the unforeseen challenges that can be part of the adoption process, Lassiter still calls adoption “awesome.”
“There are kids in the world who need families, and we had a family to give,” she said. “A family is a family no matter how they come to you.”
Part II Preview: Jax raises money for his former orphanage, and returns to Ukraine with his family to present the donation.
Contact Katie King at 574-6271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.