Ukraine War: Adoptions halted; kids, families anxiously wait
NEW YORK - Chris and Gina Jahraus are in the process of adopting 9-year-old Sashko from Ukraine. Now that Russia has invaded that country, their dreams are on hold.
"We don't know from an hour to the next whether or not he is going to be OK, whether or not the roads to be able to get to him are OK," Chris Jahraus said.
Sashko spent several weeks living with their family. Even though tensions were increasing, the adoption was not final so they had to send him back.
"I think we're just overwhelmed and I think frustrated," Gina Jahraus said.
The Jahraus family worked with Bridges of Faith International, an organization that helps Ukrainian orphans find adoptive homes.
"I get phone calls even in the night from people who are in the process of adoption and often through tears," Bridges of Faith president and founder Dr. Tom Benz said. "They're saying, 'Can your organization please help get my child home?'"
Amy Martin is in the process of adopting three sisters from Ukraine. She asked that we not show the girls' faces. Amy and her family recently hosted the girls. She, too, had to send the young sisters back to Ukraine because the adoption was not yet final.
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"The oldest one we do have some communication with although we haven't been able to reach her for the last several days. The younger two, we have no way of communicating with them," Amy said. "So it's been terrifying watching the news, seeing what's happening, knowing that they're there. The oldest told us the plane was shot down just over her orphanage. They were in the basement. She's scared."
Ukraine War: NY family fears for loved ones under fire
Amy worked with the international adoption agency CCAI.
Judy Winger, CCAI's director of adoptions, has been telling her parents to be advocates.
"What they can do is be active in terms of even reaching out to their congress people, trying to say what can the U.S. do should the children be able to get across the borders?" Winger said.
Russia invades Ukraine
Photos taken inside an orphanage in Ukraine this week show children hiding in a basement during shelling.
Adoption agencies told me they are working around the clock to find a way to move these orphans to a safer country or even to a permanent home with the families still anxiously waiting.
"I cannot find words to express my level of concern," Benz said. "We actually have vehicles on the ground right now to pick children up from their orphanages near Kyiv."