A website said the little girl had cranial facial dysplasia. Her eyes were a little wide-set.
Because she looked different, instead of leaving the orphanage at 5 years old and going to school, she would go to a mental institution.
Mental institutions aren’t a place for 5-year-old girls, especially in the Ukraine.
Darcy Guille saw Kira’s face in April on the website established to help kids wish special needs find families. She and her husband, Kevin, had been thinking about adopting. The couple waited one month to see if anyone else decided to adopt the girl. No one did.
The Guille’s started the months-long adoption process and Kevin, a singer at Cheyenne’s Cheyenne Vineyard Church, joined the cast of the church’s production of “Cotton Patch Gospel,” a southern, musical version of the New Testament. The small cast rehearsed for two months, opening day set for Sept. 21.
Then the Guilles got the call: Three weeks before Kira’s fifth birthday the couple would go to the Ukraine. They found someone to care for their three other children. Kevin told his fellow cast members that opening would have to be delayed.
It wouldn’t be the last delay. In 13 weeks of rehearsals, two cast members would be called away to finish their adoptions. The guiles adopted Kira on Sept. 14. Kevin Uhrich and his wife adopted baby Kaysen on Oct. 1.
“Before we started the process Kevin Guille said there was an outside chance they would get called during the process,” said director Randy Oestman, father of two adopted girls from Russia.
“No one expected Kevin Uhrich to get called so soon … I had directed live theater for a long time, and this was quite unusual but we did what we needed to do.”
The “Cotton Patch Gospel”, finally opened Oct. 12 and plays through Sunday. Adoptions aren’t specifically part of Cheyenne Vineyard Church’s mission, but Jesus tells people to care for the meek and the lowly, said Oestman, who is also the church’s assistant pastor.
Southern Baptist minister Clarence Jordan wrote the “Cotton Patch Gospels” to give the average person a better way to understand the New Testament. The stories are set in Georgia with a local bent. Jesus is born in Gainsville and his disciple, Peter, has a “Yankee” accent.
The musical version opened off-Broadway in 1981.
“It’s Jesus’ life through his death and resurrection,” Oestman said. “It’s the Gospels done in two hours.”
This is Oestman’s first theater production in seven years, but he isn’t new to the stage. He spent 10 years as the director of the Cheyenne Little Theater.
He plays most of the characters from the stories and the other cast members sing and play instruments. They started rehearsing twice a week in July, preparing for the mid-September debut.
Then the Guilles left for the Ukraine.
The couple had seven years ago adopted a 20-month old girl from China. The process took more than a year. Adopting Kira from the Ukraine took a matter of months once they made their decision.
Darcy Guille stayed in the Ukraine for five weeks to complete the process; Kevin Guille was there for two and a half. As one of the singers, he didn’t want to miss rehearsals, so he called into the church at 3 a.m. Ukrainian time using Skype.
“Listening to the Gospel every night was a blessing,” Kevin Guille said.
Opening night was pushed to late September. When Kevin Guille returned, the cast would be ready to perform.
Then Kevin Uhrich got the call, during rehearsal, on Sept. 26.
The couple’s ability to adopt had been approved in July, but they didn’t think they would hear anything until winter. They wanted a baby, born in the U.S., and were told adoptions could take up to two years.
The agency told Kevin he and his wife could pick up their new son in Rapid City in five days.
Uhrich plays the string base and sings in the “Cotton Patch Gospels.” Of all the musicals he’s performed in, this one will stick with him.
“The story is about how as God’s children we are all adopted,” he said. “And I was doing this musical when I got the call for our son.”
With everyone back home in Cheyenne with their new families, the musical finally opened. And to continue the theme, the banjo player adopted a dog.