The Kobylkas had always planned to adopt. “I knew I wanted to adopt when I was a kid,” Joy Kobylka said. “My husband knew from the beginning that this was important to me and it’s something we always planned on doing.”
When their second biological child turned two, Joy and Justin decided they were ready to begin pursuing adoption. “We started out with AGCI in the non-special needs Ethiopia program in 2012 and when that fell through, we moved over to China last year,” Joy said.
Joy and Justin had apprehensions about special needs and what might be the right fit for their family. “When we first started out with the special needs program, we got this big sheet of paper with all the special needs on it. When we first started researching, everything seemed so scary,” Joy said. “But when you attach a face to it, it’s not scary anymore. Once you see a child that actually has this need, you feel like you can handle it. It’s a face and it’s not a need anymore.”
“Cerebral palsy was not something we’d ever considered,” Joy said. But when she saw Julia’s picture for the first time last fall, she fell in love. “I just thought she was precious,” Joy said.
After talking it through, Joy and Justin decided to ask about Julia in January. “I asked about her, but AGCI lost her file that week—it went back to the shared list,” Joy said. “So at the time it felt really overwhelming and I felt very sad about it. Tiffany [Williams, AGCI China Program Director] didn’t know if she could find her again.”
In the spring of 2015, an AGCI team traveled to China to visit the orphanages. “They came back with some new video of Julia and I was beyond excited,” Joy said. “I called Tiffany to ask about her, but AGCI still didn’t have her file. She told me not to get my hopes up and that another family might already have her.”
Tiffany promised to look for Julia’s file and Joy and Justin waited anxiously to hear back. Joy was amazed to get a call from Tiffany 5 days later on a Sunday morning. “She called me and said that the other agency that had her had announced on Facebook that she was moving to the shared list,” Joy said. “Someone tagged Tiffany in that post saying, ‘Don’t you have a family for her?’”
Tiffany was able to place Julia with the Kobylkas. “This totally felt like a God thing to us. We got her 4 months later,” Joy said.
Like many families, the Kobylkas also had concerns about the cost of adoption. “The money seems really scary, but it’s amazing how God just works things out,” Joy said. “We ended up financing Julia’s adoption ourselves and my husband was able to sell one of his businesses for the exact amount of money that we needed at that point. It’s a lot of money and it seems really scary, but you just have to take that first step. It’s amazing how that works.”
The Kobylkas travelled to China in August 2015 to bring 4-year-old Julia home. Julia’s been home for just over two months now. And while she’s doing great, they’re still in a time of adjustment. “The communication barrier was really difficult at first. The night before we left China, she was really scared when we were packing up. It was so hard because she’s old enough to understand what’s going on, but we couldn’t explain it to her,” Joy said.
Initially, Julia was also very attached to Justin, and wanted little to do with Joy. “I was kind of expecting this,” Joy said. “My friend also adopted and her daughter would scream if she got close to her when they first got her. My husband had a hard time with it though because he’s not used to being a mother! He was like, I respect your job a whole lot more now.”
Since returning home, Julia’s transition has been much easier. “She and her sister do everything together, they are so cute,” Joy said. “She also loves our cats. Sometimes at night she would wake up screaming, and if we would put a cat on her, it was over. The cats really eased that transition for her.”
Julia already feels much more safe and comfortable at home. “There have been so many little things; she wouldn’t walk on the grass at first and now she runs on the grass. She’s come so far. She seems to understand that it’s all OK now,” Joy said.
“God had a child that he knew was going to be for us,” Joy said. “It’s kind of amazing because we were not open to cerebral palsy. That wasn’t on our list. When it came down to it, we were open to a lot more than we put down on the paper. Julia’s been such a blessing to us and she feels loved in our home and that’s the important thing.