When we decided to move forward with Sergii's adoption, there was no war going on. There were small protests on the streets of Kiev, much like the small protests here in the U.S. As we moved at lightning speed to get our homestudy and dossier done, the unrest grew. About two weeks before our appointment was scheduled in Ukraine to officially accept his referral, his region, Lugansk, was shut down for adoptions because of the fighting and danger of anyone traveling there. Shortly after that, hundreds of children, Sergii included, were moved from Lugansk to a safer region more west. The children remain there in the safe region and are to remain until the fighting has stopped.
Adoptions remain closed in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions. We are not the only ones who were in the process of adopting a child/ren from these regions. I imagine there are will over a hundred children who have families adopting them, but cannot finish. There are at least 30 children and their families that I know of.
Under Ukraine adoption law, adoption can only happen at the place of the registered location of the child. Since Sergii is from Lugansk, his paperwork is there. We must accept his referral in Lugansk, and attend adoption court in Lugansk. This is not possible. We don't even know if his paperwork still exists.
Best case scenario is that the war ends quickly and that his paperwork can be located, and that the court house and orphanage is still standing. As it is right now, there is no food, electricity, medicine, open stores, banks, etc. The government buildings have been bombed and the orphanages/boarding schools have been overtaken by the rebels and used for barracks.
I am in contact with others in country who have met with the State Department of Adoptions, and the Deputy Minister of Family and Children. And as of yet, other than relocating these refugee orphans and getting them out of the war zone, there has been no effort in getting their paperwork out of the region. No effort in salvaging any of the in-process Lugansk adoptions. Understandable, as there is a war going on there. The sad thing is that there is no desire or effort by the governing authorities to help these children become documented again. Not just so that they can be adopted, but so that can be given diplomas, accepted into trade school or college, even given a job. Without paperwork they are 'nobody.' A lot of these children are of graduating age and need documents so that they can attempt to get a life on their own.
Bringing Sergii home most likely will not happen for a long time. It could take months... even years. Of course we are hoping that it doesn't. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? And that is definitely the case here. Paperwork can be remade as they have copies of some, if not all, of the paperwork in Kiev. The issue is the region being almost completely demolished, and that is where the adoption is supposed to take place. Seems easy enough to just have court somewhere else. Problem solved! Nope… problem is Ukraine is a 'by-the-book' type of country. Anything outside of protocol to them is like a foreign language. Like speaking 'alien.' It's like chopping the head off of an ant, or taking a fish out of water and watching it flail. At this point, and I fear for a very long time, Ukraine's avoidance of the issue will be easier than dealing with it. Also, my in-country friend told me that these gov't departments have the attitude that there are plenty of other adoptions going on… (meaning that they are not going to attempt to clear these Lugansk and Donetsk kids for adoption any time soon.)
Dealing with this has been completely and utterly heartbreaking and beyond stressful. I don't know how much of this Sergii knows. But I do know that he trusts us. He knows we will never ever give up. I have drilled that into his sweet and precious heart again and again. He knows we will do whatever it takes to get him here.
Our adoption paperwork that sits in Kiev expires in January. We will most likely have to redo our paperwork to adopt Sergii, when the time comes. The paperwork is grueling to say the least. It is stressful, and not to mention expensive. Fingerprints have to be redone, child abuse clearances, criminal records, doctor visits, blood work, etc. All of that adds up.
Our social worker happened to approve us for two children. We love our social worker and he obviously has a sense of knowing things we don't. He's a Christian man and I know he clearly was led to do this--because we did not ask to be approved for two.
Do you know where I'm going with this?
In June, Sammy and I spent over a week in Ukraine, and most of those days were visiting orphans in the same camp that Sergii was in. We spent a lot of hours with these children. Precious children! They broke our hearts. We fell in love with so many. We entertained the idea of even more children, but we were there for Sergii. There were so many other pre-teens and teens that chose to hang out with us. These beautiful over-sized babies need and want momma's and daddy's just as much as the wee little ones do. They would literally sit in your lap if they could. Many of them waited near the gates for us to come just to be with us. I thought about my kids at home and how they are so comfortable and safe, and don't even realize it. They are that way because of the love and boundaries they receive from their 'constant.' These children lack that 'constant' in their lives. The only constant they know is uncertainty. They don't have that unconditional love and approval. They don't have boundaries set before them lovingly. They don't have hugs and kisses and affirmation when they fall or fail at something. Ahhh… but I digress.
This is very hard for me to acknowledge and accept, but we have to face the possibility that we may never be able to bring Sergii home, though we will never stop trying. Because we were approved for two children, Sammy and I have decided to head back to Ukraine, to a safe region, and bring home a child before our paperwork expires. And when adoptions open back up for the Lugansk kids, we will be the first ones in Ukraine to bring our son, Sergii, home. And then we will have two beautiful Ukrainian children to call ours.
It is hard for us, after seeing so many children who need families, to not take in one more. Our paperwork to adopt is finished and is sitting in Kiev right now. I don't want to pass up this opportunity and let all that work go to waste when there are children who need homes.
So we are asking you to join us in prayer for direction regarding a few available children right now.