The Viars Family - Journey of Hope
This week’s ‘Pay it Forward’ centers around a north Georgia family whose love for a child took them halfway around the world and back – twice!
Our ‘story begins on a cold morning outside a Ringgold convenience store. That’s where we meet Terri Deem. She is eager to introduce us to her friends, the Viars. This seemingly ordinary family has overcome extraordinary odds to make their lives complete.
Terri tells me, “Julie and Kevin (Viars) have hosted a Ukrainian boy for several summers and over Christmas time, and then went through the process of adoption. It’s been almost a year.”
The Viars knew from the moment they met 14-year-old Denis that the orphaned teenager from the Ukraine held a special place in their hearts and in their home.
Terri says, “It’s been thousands of dollars that it has cost them to fly back and forth to the Ukraine, to do all the paperwork, the medical, to have him checked out… By the grace of God they got out okay and made it home by Christmas.”
Terri knows that Julie, Kevin, Denis and the Viars’s three other biological children are all home today. So, we count out our 500-dollars in ‘Pay it Forward’ cash and make our way down the road and to their front door.
Once inside we find the family minus the matriarch. Julie is down the hall and surprised to see us all in her living room.
Terri walks up to Julie and says, “On behalf of NewsChannel 9 and the McMahan Law Firm we are ‘Paying it Forward’ because we know what expenses you have gone through to bring Denis home. And, we are so very happy for you.”
The Viars’s last trip overseas was a true testament of the family’s resilience and faith. Kevin returned to Ringgold with the two youngest children. Julie and Savannah stayed behind, 32 long days of not knowing whether the Ukrainian government would even release Denis for adoption.
And, in their final push for his passport thousands of people gathered in a violent anti-government protest outside their window.
Julie says, “As soon as we arrived in Kieve they said, “Do not leave your apartment.”
She goes on to explain, “We didn’t think we were going into the heart of it. We thought we were going towards the shopping and that’s where the heart of it was. We had a shield of protection around us the whole time. That was just a God thing.”
As Julie, Savannah and Denis’s money ran short Julie was willing to open her suitcase to strangers.
“I told one of my friends, ‘I’ve got to have an indoor yard sale and if it’s anything we’ve got we’ll give it up. It’s that important. There’s nothing in this house that I can’t part with to get him,” Julie says tearfully.
A very shy Denis sums up his NEW life in one word, “Normal.” He finally has a family he can call his own.
I ask Julie how long she would have waited for Denis, how long she would have fought to bring him home.
She pauses and smiles, “He’s our child, so forever.”
Tuesday, January 7 2014, 06:35 PM EST
Julie hopes to one day return to the Ukraine. Her dream is to build a home for the forgotten group of older, orphaned children who are forced to the streets at the age of 16.
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