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Event to help raise money for girl's adoption from Ukraine

A local couple hopes to raise $40,000 to bring home a girl they met briefly this summer who lives in an orphanage in the Ukraine.

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L.A. and Eric Puskar
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

Since she was 10, L.A. May Puskar has wanted to be a mom. But for a variety of reasons, it just hasn’t happened for Puskar, 39, and her husband Eric.

That all could change in the next couple of months. And the couple is asking for your help.

The Puskars never thought of adoption until they met Nastya, a Ukranian orphan who visited the Triangle in August with a group of 15 other orphans. The group was here through a Triangle-based program called Redline United.

Puskar knows the man who started Redline. And he invited the couple to a community outreach day at a park to meet some of the kids.

That’s where they met 10-year-old Nastya. The connection was almost immediate, Puskar tells me.

In just a few days, they’d fallen in love with the girl though they didn’t even speak each other’s language. Nastya, normally reserved during the trip, opened up when they were there.

“It was something just about her clicking with us and there was just an immediate bond and I just knew,” she said. “I'm a church going person, but I never had this feeling before, this feeling that God was touching us all that night.”

The couple knew they needed to get her out of the orphange even if she didn’t want them to adopt her (though she has since agreed to it).

Life in Ukranian orphanges is tough. There’s little education. They can shower only once a week. And they must leave at age 16. Puskar was told that 79 percent of the girls who leave the orphanages turn to prostitution.

“We even said to ourselves if we got to a point where she didn't want us adopting her, we would do whatever we could to get her out of that situation,” she said.

But an overseas adoption is costly. The Puskars estimate that the total costs will reach about $40,000, including travel to Ukraine and back.

They are self-sufficient. L.A. works as a preschool teacher and scrapbooking store. Eric is an operation manager for a magazine distribution company.

They’ve gotten support from their families and friends. Now they’re hoping others will hear their story and help if they can.

The couple has already held some fundraisers. So far, they've raised about 65 percent of what they need. With more events planned, including one this weekend, L.A. tells me there is a good chance they can bring Nastya here in February just after her 11th birthday.

There’s even a possibility that they’ll raise enough to adopt a second child, Puskar said. They’d need only about $10,000 or so for a second adoption because some of the adoption costs, including the travel, home visits and paperwork would be covered by the money they are raising now.

On Saturday, a Christmas Bazaar will help raise money toward the goal. Ten in-home sales vendors, including 31, Usborne Children's Books, Tupperware, Scentsy and Pampered Chef, will donate a portion of their sales to the Bring Nastya Home fund. The event 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Hunting Ridge apartments club house on Fox Hunt Lane off Falls of Neuse Road in north Raleigh.

Puskar also is holding a special crop for scrapbookers on Dec. 5.

Check the Bring Nastya Home Facebook page for more information about the family and other ways to help out.

“It basically has changed mine and my husband's life,” she said. “Just knowing this is what we are supposed to be doing. This is why other things have not happened. This is what we were waiting for.”


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