Central Indiana Family Receives $5,000 From KFF
When Nicholas met Linda and Ed Wallner at his orphanage in Borovichi earlier this year, life started getting better. He had found a family and would soon get treatments for his badly injured left leg. The Wallners gave Nicholas a new life and the KidsFirst Foundation has responded through a $5,000 grant to help cover a portion of the costs associated with their adop.

Those are the facts, but it's the story behind the story that speaks volumes.

Before adopting Nicholas, Linda and Ed Wallner had a nice life. They lived in Westfield with their two daughters (Jenna and Amanda), and enjoyed attending St. Maria Goretti Church. They had a happy family, but Linda felt a calling to adopt.

“The calling was specifically for us to adopt two little boys from a European country,” said Linda. “It was something I had never given a thought to until about five years ago. So, we investigated several agencies and countries until we finally met with Inna Pecar.”

Linda and Ed started the process of adopting in 2005. Then, on Christmas Eve of 2006, they brought their first son (Michael) home from Orenburg. It was a joyous occasion to be sure, but the Wallner's hopes of bringing two boys into their family had been dashed because of various complications.

Later, they traveled back to Russia and met Nicholas, a little boy whose left leg was injured from the hip down. He had great difficulty picking up his leg to take a step forward and the Wallners knew there would be challenges associated with bringing Nicholas into their family. But, that's just what they did and on March 17 of this year, Nicholas joined Michael and his two sisters in Westfield.

“There are so many orphans with special needs who never have the opportunity to find a family,” said Deb Rigney, president of the KidsFirst Foundation. “Linda and Ed have provided Nicholas with an amazing gift and our Foundation is thrilled to honor their spirit of giving.”

Since coming to the United States, Nicholas has seen many doctors and has become a regular at Riley Hospital. He has physical therapy three times a week and usually averages four or more weekly medical appointments as well.

Linda says that the physical therapy is helping him. He is now able to get his foot flat on the floor and he is working on building strength in his left leg. But, he has 90 percent loss of use of the nerves and muscles on the top side of his left leg. So, the goal of walking unassisted one day is likely to take years.

“All of the medical visits can be draining at times, but Nicholas has a sense of humor and a 100-watt smile,” said Linda. “We have been stunned by the Foundation's generosity. The assistance is so nice and one day we will tell Nicholas about the people who helped bring him from a lonely life in a Russian orphanage to a country that will hopefully help him walk again and lead a prosperous life.”
Currently, more than one million children live in orphanages in the former Soviet Union. Only about 15,000 are adopted each year.
The KidsFirst Foundation has already made a difference in the lives of many children and families.