Finally, Yuriy’s home: Russian orphan adopted after three-year struggle

Sally Applegate

Three years ago 11-year-old Yuriy, who had only known life in a Russian orphanage, visited a Georgetown family for six weeks. It was the summer of 2004. Like others from his orphanage he was so malnourished that he was severely underweight and undersized for his age. He had never owned anything he could call his own - everything at his orphanage was community property, even clothing and toothbrushes. His bedroom was shared with eight others.

Exhausted after a 23-hour trip from the Smolensk region of Russia, Yuriy arrived at the Georgetown home of his host family Cheryl Millman and David Searles at 2 a.m., and stayed up for the next two hours, going from room to room in the spacious home.

“I looked at all the rooms for two hours - wow. I couldn’t believe it,” said Yuriy this week, now officially adopted and safe at home with his new parents and two big dogs.

Millman let him sleep until noon the next day after his 2004 arrival. There would be a bicycle for Yuriy and all sorts of new adventures in America. Thriving during his summer with their family, the happy, sweet-natured boy won the hearts of Millman and her husband, David Searles. Even though they had only planned to host Yuriy for a visit through the Kidsave Summer Miracles Program, by summer’s end in 2004 they wanted to adopt him.

The family cried together at the airport on Aug. 16 of that year when it was time for Yuriy to go back to his Russian orphanage.