Right before we met Michael we also met our soon to be other children Angelica & Kristjan and had already started the adoption process along with Bogdan. Viktor we met at the same time as all the kids and Jesus planted the seed we were to adopt him as well but we choose to advocate for him first to make sure this was the plan of God not ours once home. Vova (Michael’s biological brother) we met later right before we headed to the US to advocate for him and as I was leaving God put upon my heart he was to be our son as well. But we choose to also advocate for him to assure this was Gods plan not ours. God made it clear these two boys were our sons and we returned later for them. In our time with Michael we realized he was over the age to adopt him as he was 17 going on 18 swiftly. Again, he also had a younger brother that had to go with him. His younger brother could have technically been his anchor for us to adopt them both but we were focused on Michael and also I again told God "no, nope, nada, not another kiddo" and at that time had not yet met Vova nor knew his boarding school location. Of course fast forward now his younger brother is our son.
My time with Michael it became very clear he was the boss, had to be in control, and with no control he then became out of control. He was indeed a rebel rouser. Every step we would try to help him he would get into the boxing ring with himself alone, fight against himself and destroy all we or he built that was positive in order to control the let down expecting it to come. He was his own worst nightmare and enemy. Everything was a challenge. The demons my son was up against were real and destructive and they wanted to destroy him. This was the hardest battle of my life: spiritually, emotionally and physically. Michael and I talk now and he knows I praise God for these battles, for him and all God was teaching me as the Lord was paving the path for our other children and their struggles they faced and even what is happening in the world today. I have a better understanding and vision experiencing it and my time in a country that was under soviet suppression and control.
(The day I saw a change in Michael where I knew he believed I was really going to fight for him to be our son, and I was his mom)
(Our family starting to expand. Went for two children. Came home with 3 and 1 in the heart in Ukraine which = 4 and 2 more on the way to come I had no idea about at this time.)
(Michael and Nicole on the field where they first met in Mykolaiv years later serving at his school)
In order to say who my son is now I believe it is important to say who he once was. Paul in scripture states to die to self is to gain Christ. Demonic entities do not like to die or leave the comfort of their host in which they remain in. But where God fills the demons cannot remain, they MUST flee. Praise the Lord for that. When the Lord starts a good work in someone, He finishes. Sometimes it is swift and fast like Paul or it is a slow refiners fire. Our son's story is a slow refiners fire of him choosing to come to Christ with his timing and heart exposed to His creator, Jesus Christ. Which is genuine and has been beautiful to watch his transformation. The best way I can think to explain the story with my son when I first met him was like a fast and furious movie with a touch of the most gut wrenching roller coaster that drops out from under you all slammed into one. I did not spend much of my time asking God “Why” but more so of “Lord give me your strength and your wisdom” and asking the Holy Spirit to lead. My time was mainly spent on my knees and praying for my son and children and to grab the day by the horns and to go to bed with the peace that God is victorious and He has a plan no matter how bad it looks and I cannot see anything. The Lord would give me a verse to recite over and over in my head to help me through the second, moment, day.
(Nicole and Michael serving in Kyiv)
To give you an idea of the old skin my son has shed, all glory to God that he no longer wears and I plead that in the name of Jesus. If I were to sit in church next to a person with a physical or mental disability he would yell at me and refuse to sit next to me. If I pushed a person in a wheel chair he would refuse to walk next to me. If I fed a homeless person he was no where to be seen. He lied, stole from me and others, instigated chaos, combative, conceded, haughty, was abusive physically, abusive verbally and inappropriately abusive to me. When you take the Bible and you look at the definition of the fruits of the spirit our son was the opposite.
God had led me right into everything he taught to avoid and yet said "charge, this is your son." But remember he said “He will try to destroy you and your name”. The Lord warned me clearly. Every step of the way God would warn me, protect me and lead me. I sit here writing this praising God that He called me to this child, reflecting on all the crazy we have been through, have overcome by the glory, promises and miracles of Christ Jesus alone. NO ONE can steal His glory in what He did, has done and continues to do. It was a normal day for God to tell me what was to come and how to pray with or for Michael. Through the years we had many battles of prayer against the demonic realm always standing in victory. When Satan's intention was meant to mock God or cause destruction he FAILED, and I plead that is the blood of Jesus Christ.
(Nicole and Michael in the war zone in Ukraine serving)
We had been praying for a miracle of the adoption of Michael as, again, we were told this was not possible with him being over 18. Years past and no sign of adoption. Two times Michael went running from us mentally and physically where he dropped off the grid for a couple months at a time with nothing, no word from him. God would speak to me and tell me what to pray exactly, when to pray and what was to come and then our son would reappear. We could not be there physically with him all the time, but I made frequent trips to see him over the years trying to get him into safe locations where he could grow, learn and get closer to Christ and use all his God given skills to make a life for himself. Parenting across the oceans and home was extremely heart wrenching and difficult. There were times when God would tell me “let go,” go radio silent, and get out of the way for me to do my work. I was very careful to heed to His every word no matter what others thought or said, as from the outside this all looked nuts I am sure. I knew this all was Gods design and plan and I just needed to hang on and obey. God and I had our talks in the closet praying but He was clear with me what to do.
God was preparing the fields, showing us miracles to come in the Carpathian mountains and Israel.
In the summer of 2016 Michael and I headed to the Carpathian mountains on a tour. I wanted to essentially chase Jesus with him. We prayed and asked God for sheep, God gave us sheep. I prayed to see a cow (yes a cow) and he gave us a cow. I know that sounds nuts but Biblically I was hoping to teach Michael we are the sheep and Jesus is the Shepherd and if we trust Him when we do not see, He will deliver. What He calls us to, He will deliver us from it, through it, or out of it. We had gone into the mountains on horseback. God was working on humbling Michael chipping away at him piece by piece putting him on a horse being lead by our guide on foot like Michael was a little kid. All I could do was giggle as he knows how to ride a horse and had before with me.
We were high up in the mountains and the guide said "I must take you to see the sheep." I asked Michael "did you ask him to take us to the sheep?" He said "no mom." I thought 'ok God, here we go!' The guide took us to where the sheep were to be and there were no sheep. So we started heading back to where we started the ride and with no sign of sheep. Then off in the distance you could hear the sound of bells in the ravine below us. I said "Mish" (this is what I call him) "I hear bells!" The man yelled in Ukrainian “sheep.” So we started another incline up the mountain to the direction the sheep were moving and there they were with their shepherd peacefully grazing, unafraid and un-affected by our presence on the hillside ahead. On that trip one thing after another we prayed and asked God for to see, He delivered.
(Michael being lead through the mountains by lead on his horse, humbling HEHE! I giggled most the ride. )
(Our guide leading us to find the sheep)
(I prayed to see a cow on the way up the Carpathian mountains and God gave me a cow)
(God challenging us to trust and go to heights on wobbly steps and bridges in the air suspended and attached to lines you hope would hold you if you bailed)
Then we headed for Israel. This is where God showed so mightily. I prayed for God to humble my son and He delivered. Mish ran into a light pole and stepped in dog poop and instead of getting angry we both laughed. This was the real starting of the amazing transformation of my son. We prayed for shepherds and sheep, we got shepherds, sheep and goats, even more then we asked for, the goats were an added bonus like in Carpathia.
We stayed in Netanya, Israel and we went into the sea for a swim and the current was very rough and had a HUGE undertow that day. To the right of us were huge rocks and it was barricaded off with orange ropes as it was dangerous and a no swim zone, clearly marked. Nonetheless, Mish did a swim far out as he is a strong swimmer. I was more inshore and there was a woman to my right floating next to me and jumping the waves as I was. We could not speak the same language as she was a local but the universal smile and laugh was good. We both were jumping the waves and occasionally looking at one another for a smile. Then suddenly Mish appears out of no where like he always does and we looked to see the lady to my right, and she is gone. We looked at one another and said “she’s gone." Right at that moment you could hear a very clear English “Help” and we looked and she had been taken far out by the waves and sinking. I do not speak in tongues but in this entire event Mish and I heard English until she hit shore safely then back to her native tongue. One word, "GOD".
Mish looked at me and said “Mom I need to go to her”. I said “go”. I swear that boy was floating on water. I have never seen him move that fast let alone on a current that can kill. Then I looked to shore and her husband jumped in to save her too but he was not a strong swimmer. I was trying to make my way to them to help. But it became apparent I would be in the way of the work God was going to use and do in and with my son. Literally, I could not move from my location although trying. Any stroke I took it was like it meant nothing. God kept me on the edge of the rocks but not in them yet I could not stand or move towards Mish and I could not even swim to shore. It was like I was frozen and suspended in water in one place and unable to move. So Mish was now holding up this woman from drowning and she was grabbing his necklace and you could hear her screaming “Jesus, Jesus save us” again in English. Then Mish grabbed her husband and was balancing on this tiny boulder under water with his feet holding the woman and this man in shock that is frozen and un-responsive. I could see he was white as a sheet.
Meanwhile the rescue jet ski team launched from the beach was launched to go save the three of them. Mish looked at me and could see I was floating on the edge of the rocks, head bobbing up and down and could not move no matter how hard I tried and he was scared. He said he feared I would drown or be crushed in the rocks. He told me watching was difficult in that he had to decide to save me or save two strangers. He said that he knew I would want him to stay right where he was and save the two people. He said he knew I knew Christ and was certain where I was going but he did not know the future of these two people and their walk with God. I then screamed to Mish, “Don’t you move son, stay there”. He then knew he was making the right decision. God was reassuring us both He had this. The jet ski reached Mish and the couple and got them to shore. It circled back to get me and soon as it arrived I realized I had been washed to shore. The man asked if I needed help and before I could answer I stood up to thigh high water as God had washed me ashore. I said “I can walk to shore, sir thank you” giggling, confused, processing and thinking all the miracles that had just taken place in a few minute time frame. God was totally in control.
(Michael and I on the beach in Netanya where he saved the woman and her husband, markers of the rocky zone to stay out of you can see)
(Michael and I in the streets of Israel walking where Jesus did. Truly amazing and unforgettable. )
Another answered prayer and miracle. We went to the Jordan River. As we were preparing to head up to the river anyone that wanted to be baptized had to buy a white gown. I was buying one and Mish asked if I was getting baptized. I said, “yes I am baptizing myself”. I am going in. I told him want to as well? He said no. As we were preparing to leave I started praying God soften my sons heart to want to be baptized and allow me the blessing to do it. Mish then looked at me and said “Ok mom I will get baptized”. Yes! So then we get to the Jordan River and we asked for a preacher to baptize Misha. They said the pastor was out that day. I looked at him and said “I could always baptize you? Jesus said, go and make disciplines, he was not specific man or woman”. Mish laughed and said “no” and then headed into the restroom to change as did I. As I was changing I kept praying to have the blessing to baptize Mish. I came out and Mish said “Ok mom, will you baptize me”? Will I??? YES. I could not move fast enough to the water.
(Michael’s baptism in the Jordan and mine)
The miracles kept rolling in, the prayers kept being answered and revealed. The humbling in Michael kept coming to where all we could do was laugh. God met us in the Carpathian mountains and then in Israel to prepare us for what was next.
Then in 2017 a break through came. We got notice from some friends they would attempt and try in the Ukrainian courts to help us adopt Michael. It would not get him home but legally made Michael our son. We only heard through the adoption grapevine of one family that had attempted to do it years prior to successfully but to find out who this person was and who they used was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We hit every dead end. It was just a word of mouth story.
So I headed to Ukraine ready to start the next chapter battle to make Michael our legal son. What was to be a 1 court appearance turned into a 3 month period, with a 3 court appearances with an amazing judge and jury who asked and did a documentary on our adoption story in the process. It took longer then anticipated as they wanted to make sure all t’s were crossed and all i’s were dotted to avoid any issues. This case was taken very seriously and we appreciated it to make sure there was no error. On October 6, 2017 our son became Michael Daniel Dewberry and was given a new name as God says He will do. Once we become children of God he gives us a new name. When we knew God lead Michael to be our son God put upon my heart the name Michael Daniel. Michael was his first God given name at birth by his biological family which is beautiful and Daniel by me as his walk with God reminded me of Daniel in the lions den. He patiently waited and trusted in God surrounded by the lions. God delivered him from the lions that wanted to devour him.
(Michael’s GOTCHA day! Michael Daniel Dewberry, court approved! How could we not cry??)
(Michael and Nicole praying for the courts favor in our adoption)
(Judge, Jury and our attorney)
(1st court hearing for Michael’s adoption, the process begins)
(Orphan no more)
(Joe “Papa”, Michael and Nicole)
Thank you Nicole for sharing your family's story!
For Parts 1 & 3 of this incredible journey to family, follow these links.