Kendall and Jerry Hudgins first got the suggestion from friend and Christian singer-songwriter John Waller. He and his wife Josee had adopted three Ukrainian orphans, and suggested the Hudgins get involved with Project 143, which connects families with orphans from around the world for 4 to 8 week visits.
Kendall says that they agreed to do it with a little hesitation but ultimately went into it with an open mind. They were connected with Vitaliy, a Ukrainian orphan that had lost both parents to alcoholism by the time he was 7.
Already nearly a teenager, Vitaliy first came over to stay with the Hudgins family around Christmas of 2011.
"We weren't really sure, especially about adopting an older kid," Kendall said of the first time he came to visit.
On the homepage for Project 143 there is a description of the program, which concludes that if you decide to get involved, "You might be surprised at whose life is changed the most at the end of the 4 to 8 weeks."
Kendall found that to be true. By the end of his visit, Vitaliy wanted to be a permanent part of the Hudgins family and they wanted him, too.
Kendall says their 12-year-old daughter Hannah and 3-year-old son Tripp took to Vitaliy right away.
"It was like he was just meant to be in our family," she remembers. "It's like they've always been brother and sister. He even looks like us too, that's the weird thing."
That visit sold Kendall and Jerry on the idea of adoption, but the experience since then has been a series of frustrations. Right now he is again visiting the Hudgins family here in the states, but time is running out for him to be adopted and moved here permanently.
Once he turns 16 in December, Vitaliy will be aged out of the Ukrainian foster system and left to "fend for himself," Kendall says.
If his adoption can't be worked through the Ukrainian court system in time, she says, there's no way to get him to America.
Kendall says orphans in Ukraine simply aren't able to obtain a Work Visa or Student Visa to come to the states once they've aged out of the foster system. Without clear ties to their home countries it is assumed that they will come here with the intention of never leaving, and so those Visas aren't usually issued.
Unfortunately, many of those kids who don't find a way out of Ukraine get sucked into a cycle of alcohol or drug abuse, Kendall says.
The whole process of adoption costs around $35,000 and the family is planning to make the first of three trips to Ukraine in the fall, hopefully to finally obtain the approval to bring him back for good.
In order to raise money, the Hudgins planned the "Race for One Less Orphan 5k" to be run at Ashley Park in Newnan on Aug. 2.
"It's very crucial that we have a good turnout at this 5K," Kendall says. "With everything going on in Ukraine right now, it's so important to help people understand [the orphans] have no other option."
More information about the race can be found in the Facebook group "Race for One Less Orphan 5k."