“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart but in it” a poem by Fleur Conkling Heyliger.
Josi Wahlert is a Goshen County native that has recently moved to the area with her family; husband Ross Wahlert and daughter Kinsey Jo Wahlert. Wahlert’s family roots run deep in Niobrara County and now, after meeting three boys, she is working selling commissioned art and furniture pieces to assist in the effort of their adoption so they too can call Niobrara County home.
“These boys are precious beyond words. All of these kids are unique, special, and designed for a purpose. They just need someone to show them love and hope. They need someone to help them grow and blossom into the young men they were created to be. They need a safe place to live where they know they’ll be fed and clothed. They need a family, and that’s what we’re working for” Wahlert, who refers to ‘E’ and his two brothers, ‘A’, and ‘J’ whom hail from Eastern Europe, says. Wahlert explains that per the children’s native-country adoption rules, certain details must be kept private, including their full names and their native country, Eastern Europe being the closest Wahlert can come to their location. The story of ‘E’, ‘A’, and ‘J’ is truly humbling, as Wahlert tells, “these boys have been through a lot and are currently living in an orphanage in their country. While they were still at home, E was the sole caretaker for all of them and at some point someone realized how bad their situation was and they were placed in the orphanage”. By ‘all of them’, Wahlert refers to a total count of five siblings E was responsible for, three of which were previously adopted and live stateside. Per Wahlert, the reason for the division of the siblings was with the intention for children to be adopted. Prior to a recent decision by their native country, for the sake of allowing children a loving home, the country decided they would split sibling groups, “That’s why the younger three were able to be adopted by a family here in the U.S. At that point, the kids were split up into two 3-child groups. Just recently, the Orphan Court decided that sibling groups can only be separated under special circumstances”. This decision has allowed for ‘E’, ‘A’, and ‘J’, to be adopted together. Now, the three boys are looking forward to being welcomed home by the Kremers’ family, “When we heard this news [from the Orphan Court], it was a surprise, but after time evaluating the realities of adopting three instead of one, the Kremers’ decided to continue on with the adoption paperwork” comments Wahlert.
Cody and Michelle Kremers involvement with the children stemmed from a New Year’s Eve party where they first met ‘E’ through Wahlert and her husband, “After that, they became more and more curious about him and his situation and began discussing with us the possibility of pursuing adoption - my husband and I agreed that the Kremers’ family would be a great fit for E”, she adds, “I am so blessed to know [the] Kremers’ and see their hearts for these boys. It is a privilege to join them on this journey in all but small way”. Since the New Year’s party and the decision to continue with the adoption of all three boys, Wahlert’s involvement has increased as a means to offset the adoption costs by commissioning furniture and artwork piece. While having conducted painting classes for as many as twenty to a class, on her own, she works with charcoal, graphite, ink, prismacolors, and doing paintings using acrylic and oil paints. In addition, she has moved her attention to barnwood signs and refurbishing various pieces of furniture, a talent she attributes to inheriting from her own mother. “When I started thinking about different avenues to raise money, selling art was the first thing that came to mind. It is the best way that I can help, and it’s something that I can pour my heart and soul into and make someone happy” Wahlert says. In total, Wahlert has commissioned three furniture pieces, twenty various drawings, paintings, and signs, held two art classes, and has a gallery of ten pieces that will be on display for sale at Cow Camp Saddlery in the Ranger Apartments complex. “I find that most people generally give more money than what I quoted to them. The generosity I have seen is overwhelming. Doing these commissions has allowed people to be involved in this adoption, to take part in the journey, and that’s been a beautiful thing to witness” Wahlert remarks. So far, Wahlert has been able to donate around $3,000.00 to the funds and aims at accomplishing a minimum $10,000.00, a number she would be happy to surpass, “When it comes down to it, I love these boys dearly. I want to do everything I can to get them here with a safe, loving family, and this is the best way I can think of to do that”.
Recently, ‘E’, ‘A’, and ‘J’ were able to visit and spend time with the Kremers’ family. At this point the adoption will not be finalized until 2018, leaving the boys to return to Eastern Europe. Explains Wahlert, “It’s easy to hear about the orphan crisis in our world and move on about our day, but when you know the child’s name, when you know their favorite foods, the sound of their giggles, the way they tease and play, how they stiffen when you hug them because they don’t know how to respond, you can’t ignore it any longer. It’s not just a far off story, it’s here and now. These boys are real people, who need a real home, with real parents who love them unconditionally”. In addition to Wahlert’s commissions, a Facebook page documenting parts of their journey and to raise support has been established at https://www.facebook.com/Kremers-Adoption-Fund-122275241711784/.
“Adoption is one of the most beautiful things a family can do. It’s an illustration of what God does for us - He adopts us as His children. I firmly believe that we are all called to help and be involved in some way, and not necessarily just through adoption. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, donate. If you can’t donate, pray... In all reality, a few drawings aren’t exactly life changing. It’s this family who is willing to open their home, step out of their comfort zone, and fight for these boys to have a chance at a beautiful life - that’s what this is all about”.