Three of Brook and Tonya Moes' 10 young children could not be home for Christmas and had to spend the holiday thousands of miles away in a foreign land.
This actually came as little surprise for the Angels Camp couple, who attend Oak Hill Presbyterian Church in Sonora, where Brook is a deacon.
The Moeses are, hopefully, on the back end of a months-long process to legally adopt two boys and a girl between the ages of 6 and 12 from western Poland.
Due to confidentiality laws, they have referred to the trio by the pseudonyms of Faith, Jack and Cleo, pending official closure on the adoption expected to come next month in the Polish courts.
The Moeses have seven biological children, ranging in age from 1 to 16, and were touched in July by the story of the three siblings, born to a prostitute and a convicted felon, who were on the verge of being separated in their native land's foster system.
"I looked at them and I just knew those were Moes children," Brook said when launching the adoption request.
The couple knew getting the latest additions to their growing family home to California prior to Christmas would take a virtual miracle, and no such holiday magic came about. The family has been no less taken aback, however, at the generosity and support of the community that surrounds them.
"It really has been miraculous to see how generous people have been," said Moes, who works as a violin and martial arts instructor.
An anonymous donor made a "really, really sizable donation" to the family's efforts to raise $35,000 for travel, legal and other costs associated with the adoption, and Moessaid that they are now just "a couple thousand dollars short" of reaching that fundraising goal.
"It's just been a real outpouring of support from the community," said Oak Hill Pastor Dave Bush. "They are truly making the sacrifice and the commitment to these three children … (who are) going to be in really good shape with the Moes family."
Moes said he and his wife are now on track to go to court in mid- to late January in the area near the German border where the children now live in foster care, where they are expected to officially receive custody.
To get to this point has taken a masterful maneuvering through the systems of multiple countries and states. The greatest holdup of about six to seven weeks, Moes said, came in getting an acceptable updated form version of Tonya's birth certificate, filed in Maryland after she was born in England.
"Lots of bureaucracy to deal with. Boy, amazing. It's a lot of stuff to do," he said. "It's almost over though. From this end, we're all done."
The delay has put a strain on the children's Polish foster family, especially as the father is starting a new job outside of the Eastern European country, Moes said, "but it sounds like they are really good people" and have made their own sacrifices to cope with the delays.
Once in the country, he said they expect to do some traveling within Poland with the children, during the brief period when they can be with them but can not yet leave the country.
Moes has been finishing a home remodel during the Christmas break to accommodate the new members of their family. When they finally arrive home in Calaveras County, there will be a joyous gathering.
"We'll have some awesome celebration when they get here," he said. "A nice barbecue. It's pretty much all we think and talk about."
For more information about the Moes family's adoption efforts, visit their blog at moesadoption.webs.com or their Facebook page titled "Rescue Adoption of 3 Polish Children."