In his 20s and early 30s, Father’s Day always reminded Greg Frohna that something was missing in his life. Back then, Greg, the hospital’s director of Spiritual Care and Guest Services, saw other men enjoying Father’s Day cards and gifts from their children. His wife, Wendi, experienced the same thoughts on Mother’s Day. This was a struggle they both endured during their first 10 years of marriage. After seeking input from physicians, they learned they wouldn’t conceive naturally.
Follow the Signs
Over the next five years, the couple discussed their options for parenthood, including international adoption. Ultimately, three signs confirmed Greg’s decision to adopt from another country. Greg remembered while getting his haircut one day, he noticed a People Magazine article on adoption. Secondly, he met someone who recently traveled to Russia. Last, he noticed a local charity shoe drive for Russian children. He felt those three signs were leading the couple to adopt from Russia. So, they began their journey and the necessary paperwork.
And Then There Were Four
With the realization it can take up to a year once approved, the couple was pleasantly surprised the process worked so quickly for them. In less than 75 days, Greg and Wendi traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, to pick up Etara, age 5 ½, and Adam, age 4, in 2004. “The two siblings, who were living in an orphanage, came to us with nothing,” Greg recalled. “Even the simple things, like walking on grass, were new to them.”
Seven years later, the Frohnas expanded their family with brothers Alex, age 7, and Nick, age 6, from a Russian orphanage in Krasnodar. “God has blessed us with our children. We are grateful,” said Greg.
Greg admits there were adjustments for the first three years. He recalled the children not getting along and the birth siblings protecting each other, which caused difficulties. A family vacation to South Dakota helped solidify the family as one and allowed the children to get to know each other in a more relaxing environment.
Life in America
As the children adjusted to life in America, the Frohnas placed word labels on household items to help them learn English. Food was always available to ease the adjustment from the orphanages where food was less plentiful. “They ate all the time at our house and especially liked watermelon and hot dogs,” Greg remembered. Over the years, the Frohnas have exposed their children to Russian culture and traditional foods, like Borscht soup.
Today, the children, Etara, 19, Adam, 18, Alex, 14, and Nick, 13, lead busy lives. Oldest daughter Etara is enrolled in college. “We are glad the children have so many incredible opportunities here,” Greg said.
“Some people think adoption is a consolation prize, but for us, it’s not second best, but instead a blessing,” Greg smiled.