Sean recalls one of the greatest moments when Zhenya called them mom and dad. “It completely caught us off guard,” said Sean. “We weren’t expecting it. He had said it as if he had said it a thousand times. But we both paused.” One of the most rewarding experiences for Sean was being an assistant coach for Zhenya’s football team. “We both have a love for sports and both New York Giants fans. Going to his practices, watching the games was a highlight for us, Sean remembered. “It was amazing to be able to share that with him and bond. I finally had someone to share football with. It’s a tradition when he comes home, that we watch football games together.” One of the proudest moments for me was when he got to college and received his acceptance letter to Buffalo State College. He has come so far, and now he is looking into master’s programs.
The most challenging part of having Zhenya was watching him get used to his new school and environment,” said Sean. “He is remarkable! He was able to adjust and figure things out on his own and became one of the most popular kids in school. He is resilient.”
“As parents, we are very hands-off,” said Sean. “We did not choreograph his life. He did what he wanted to do. We pushed education and wanted him to go to college. If I could give Zhenya some advice, I would tell him to stay the course. He has always pursued art. Stay close to your art, and don’t lose sight of it. That will help you stay balanced in your life.”
“For anyone interested in adoption, my advice is to do it, for sure, said Sean. “There is such a tremendous need out there and so many kids looking for families. Find families who have done it successfully. Speak to them. Find an organization like Kidsave that have done this successfully. If you can adopt an older child, that’s where the greatest need is. Avoid negative feedback. Don’t let anyone deter you from moving forward.”
“Being a father, at some point, your life must become about more than yourself,” said Sean. “You have to be living for more than just material wealth and things that you want. Up until we adopted Zhenya, I was working really hard, making money, achieving in my career. When we decided to adopt Zhenya suddenly, my life just became so much more meaningful. Fatherhood is about taking care of your family, looking out for loved ones, helping them grow and nourish them. Help build better and more involved citizens for this country. I hope that someday Zhenya has the same experience himself.”
Fatherhood has made Sean more invested in his community. “Before Zhenya came into my life, I wasn’t involved in local boards or organizations. When Zhenya came along, we got involved in schools, sports teams, a couple, not for profits. It was all about making the community better. You’re trying to create a better world for your child. You do it, one child, at a time, but if everyone is doing it, you’re creating a better world. That’s what Father’s Day is about. Adopting Zhenya and going through the whole process was the best decision I have ever made. Once we did it, we reevaluated all of our values, which made Christine and I better people.”