Family gives hope to special needs orphans

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ST. LOUIS - The Kacirek family is making another stop on their unexpected journey. For the third time in six months, they've traveled from their hometown of Rogers, Ark. to St. Louis Children's hospital.

"She understands that it's necessary for her life," said Tina Kacirek.

Sixteen-year-old Lucia has cerebral palsy and is here for spinal fusion surgery.

"So this will allow her to breathe better and to be able to tolerate nutrition a little better," explained Kim Cordia, a clinician at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

And it will also allow her to sit up for the first time in her life.

"I'm ready to change my life," said Lucia, through her mom.

If not for change, Lucia may not have had a life at all. Less than a year ago, Lucia was living at an orphanage in Ukraine.

"Pictures don't do justice," said Kacirek. "If you don't get to smell, if you don't get to feel what they're feeling it can kind of be easy to detach from what their experience is."

It's especially tough for children for kids with special needs. The Kacireks shot a video on one of their visits there before they decided to adopt Lucia.

"You see a lot of shut doors," recalled Randy Kacirek, Tina's husband. "And you know there are kids behind that door."

Last May, the Kacireks not only adopted Lucia, they also adopted her 15-year-old brother, Cephas, who has spina bifida, and a talent for language.

"I speak still Russian," laughed Cephas. "But sometimes I'll speak English more."

You might think it's quite something that the Kacirek family would adopt two special needs kids from the Ukraine, but you don't know the half of it. Back in Arkansas, they have three more adopted children, all from overseas and all with special needs. Plus, they have three healthy biological children.

"It required a lot of work," said Randy. "It required a lot of sacrifice but I look back on that and I'm like, I wouldn't give it up for anything."

"There's just a lot of joy even in the hard things," Tina added.

Adopting these kids may not change the world, but for these kids the world has changed. Just two months ago, Cephas also had life-altering surgery at Children's, surgery he never would've had if he were still in the orphanage.

"It amazes me that after so much deprivation that they are able to feel compassion for one another," Tina said.

Lucia will soon be on the road to recovery and then on the road back to her new family in Arkansas.

"People always ask me are you going to add more to your family? Are you done? I don't know. I don't if it's done," laughed Randy.

The Kacirek family journey; putting kids on a different path and making sure they never have to walk it alone.

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