A family reflects on their adoption journey - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

A family reflects on their adoption journey

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OWATONNA, MN (KTTC-TV) When a family is first united through adoption, strangers become relatives.

The family tree is completely rewritten for generations to come.

Its a journey that usually begins with great excitement but does that excitement last through all the challenges?

Jeff Hoggard says, "When we were in the orphanage, everyone wanted to be adopted. It was like hitting the lottery for us back there."

In August of 1999, the lives of two children in Russia and a husband and wife who owned a dance studio in Owatonna would change forever. It all started with a simple favor for a family down the road.

Dave Hoggard says, "We had neighbors who adopted and we took them to the airport and picked them up and we saw their kids and we fell in love with that bunch and I told Jill we could do that, too."

When we first met David and Jill Hoggard in January of 2000, they were still on a high from that trip to the orphanage in Kraznodar, near the Black Sea in Russia.

Dave Hoggard (January, 2000) "Jill was in tears, I was in tears..and here Jeff came running out of the building. It was quite emotional. Here is that moment when I first met Jeff."

Jeff was 9..Sister Tori one year younger. And these two soon learned the way of life in this family: dance.

Jeff Hoggard shows pictures of dancing as a child. "Here's probably one of the first classes I danced in."

Dance would be just one of many new experiences.

Tori Hoggard says, "I stepped into my house and we never had carpet before in Russia and I was like Gosh this feels so good! It was so different, everything I experienced for the first month or two."

Jeff Hoggard says, "In one of my classes, we were doing spelling when I came in 5th Grade and my teacher was asking me to spell these words and I had no idea what she was talking about. It's like I almost started crying. It was totally different."

Dave Hoggard says, "They're going to come with different culture, different backgrounds from different parts of the world and you've got to be ready for that because its not the same as it is here."

And that means being ready for some big surprises. When the Hoggards went to Russia, they had no idea Jeff and Tori had a little brother. The children had been separated years earlier. And it wasn't long before a plan was put in place to bring young Sasha here too. Today, he's known as James.

James Hoggard says, "When I found out I had a brother and sister, I couldn't believe it. I was excited. It was overwhelming for me."

But soon, James was just one of the family and today, he's Tori's dance partner.

While this family is the product of two trips across the globe, they have dreams like many others. Jeff is now a member of the Minnesota National Guard. James wants to follow in his big brothers military shoes. And as a senior in high school, Tori looks forward to college and one day taking over her mother's dance studio.

Dave says "I look at them and they're really beautiful. You're great looking kids and I am very excited to watch them have families and be a grandpa."

"In a while though, no rush," says Jill. 

No, this family wants to enjoy every minute of what so far has been an incredible journey.

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