Ukrainian adoptions spur Kentuckiana non-profit group that helps other children


by Melissa Swan

Posted on February 4, 2013 at 9:05 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 4 at 9:21 PM

(WHAS11) -- Here in Kentuckiana there are hundreds of children who didn't begin their lives in this country. Many of them found their forever families because of the work of just a few people in Kentuckiana.

If you've ever wondered if one person or just a few people can make a difference in the world, you can see how one adoption created a ripple effect that touched hundreds of children.

When you watch home movies of the Hicks family you don't just see different times you see a different country.

Their experience is far from unique in Kentuckiana and in fact,  it's not even unique in the Hicks family.

“Three children, Three different times, three different cities and they're all different,” Patty Hicks said. “I think it's just part of being a family. That's what we do…that's who we are.”

This family got guidance in their adoption journey from Kathy Drane.

“There's nothing that can take the place of a family,” Drane said.

Bob and Kathy Drane along with daughter Jessica adopted Olla  from Ukraine 13 years ago when she was 2-years-old.

When the newspaper at Southeast Christian Church wrote an article about the adoption it included the couple’s phone number.

“I never dreamed anybody'd call.  The story came out and it wasn't two weeks but the phone began to ring,” Kathy Drane said.

Their story of Olla's adoption and her young life inside the crowded, run down orphanage had moved couples to adopt.

“I would help them with their paperwork and I would help them with their travel and several times I traveled with people,” Kathy Drane said.

And now there are hundreds of former Ukrainian orphans who call Kentuckiana home. 

Drane feels like it was all fate.

“To have done this…I feel like it was meant to be.  It was a higher calling than just me.” Drane said.

Drane said she is stunned as to what has come from all the adoptions.

“What amazes me more than the number of children is everything that has grown out of this,” Kathy Drane said.

A few parents who adopted children couldn't forget the ones left behind.

“A lot of these children because of poverty, because of alcoholism, because of drug addiction...just because of the part of the world they come from...end up in institutions,” Kathy Drane said.

A few Louisvillians founded Hopeful Hearts, a non-profit group that now carries food and medication to Ukrainian orphanages.

Hopeful Hearts now operates four homes for older children  in Ukraine.

It has also partnered with groups in countries across the globe and they include: Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia and Myanmar where orphaned or abandoned children are in need.

 “We've traveled all over the world with this,” Kathy Drane said. “We've eaten things and slept places and done things that I would never ever dreamed...that we would have done but there are a lot of people, a lot of little people...tonight that are better off tonight because a little tiny group of people in Louisville, Ky.”

Hopeful Hearts has one fundraising event each year and it’s this Saturday night an Evening of Loving Hearts. It's at the Galt House in the Archibald Cochran Ballroom. Click here for more information.