American family uses Ukrainian A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories with their adopted children

Categories: Americas, Bible Storybook, Europe, Immigrant, Ukraine, Ukrainian, United States

Few people would choose to be on an international flight into the United States on Sept. 11. But Heather and Chad Tidwell of Cheyenne, Wyo., were thrilled, because they were bringing home a new member of the family: a 12-year-old Ukrainian orphan named Jonathan.

Heather and her husband, Chad, had thought for years that they would one day like to adopt. “We’d always had a heart for orphans, and it was just something that God had laid on both of our hearts,” Heather explained. “We figured that it would be sometime in the future, but we didn’t think it would be until our children got older.”
Then one day, Heather was listening to a Christian radio station and heard an ad for a program that helps American families host Ukrainian and Latvian orphans in their homes for Christmas.

After a lot of prayer, the Tidwells (including 14-year-old Caleb and 10-year-old Charleston) decided they would act.Though there were many obstacles, the pieces started to fall into place. The family chose two children from Ukraine to join them for the holidays: Yulia and Anton.

To prepare for their arrival, Heather began searching for Christian materials in the Ukrainian language. To her delight, she came across the LHF website and found the Ukrainian translation of A Child’s Garden of Bible Stories.

“As a family, we always do devotionals, and we wanted [Yulia and Anton] to be a part of that,” Heather said. “Their background papers said that they spoke a little English, but we found out after they got here that they really didn’t speak any English.”

The Bible storybook bridged the language barrier. “Every single night while Yulia and Anton were here, we would read a story,” Heather recalled. “We’d read in English, and they’d read in Ukrainian. To hear them reading these stories from the Bible in their native language, here in America, and to be able to give them that opportunity…it was a blessing.”

After spending a couple of weeks with Yulia and Anton, the Tidwells came to a big decision: they would pursue adopting the siblings.

For the next several months, Chad and Heather took the steps necessary for an international adoption. They talked with the children over the computer every week.

Then, everything changed. Yulia and Anton’s biological father wanted to be back in the children’s lives.

The adoption was off.


In the midst of grieving the loss of Yulia and Anton, a phone call came from a couple in California who had heard that the Tidwells were considering adoption. Though the Californians felt they couldn’t adopt a child themselves, they became strong advocates for Jonathan, a Ukrainian orphan who had spent several weeks in their home.

The Tidwells weren’t sure. “The process with Yulia and Anton, it was like carrying a child for six months, preparing. We had these dreams and plans,” Heather said. “Chad and I asked, ‘What do we do now?’ And God very clearly took us back to this little boy, Jonathan.”


Ten months after starting the hosting process, Heather and Chad brought home Jonathan, whose name means “gift from God.” Though there are challenges, their new son is doing well in school and has settled into being one of the family.And because Anton and Yulia took their Bible storybook with them back to the orphanage, a second Ukrainian Bible storybook, One Hundred Bible Stories, is on its way from LHF to the Tidwell home.

“We’re so happy Jonathan’s with us, and we know for sure that God has called us to be his parents,” Heather reflected. “God has created us to be together, to not move through life alone.

“Adoption is such a beautiful picture of what Christ did for us, because we were all adopted into His family, too,” she concluded. “With His death on the cross, His burial and resurrection, we’ve been adopted and become part of the body of Christ.”

Only with your help can this important work continue. Prayerfully consider how you can help support LHF projects.