Neglect, family separation, institutional living, failed reunification, foster care. Victor, Lev and Christina have walked a difficult road over the course of their young lives.
The Ukrainian siblings were placed in an orphanage in 2019 as a result of their mother failing to provide safety and care. It was difficult for the siblings to adjust to life at the orphanage, but by sticking together they tried their best to settle in to their new environment. Before much time had passed, things took a dramatic shift when the global COVID-19 pandemic began and the government’s response was to shut down orphanages and send kids back home. But was their home a safe place for these young siblings to return to?
As it became evident that many children were returning to families ill-equipped or unprepared to care for children, the Alliance, Ukraine Without Orphans, partnered with local Ukrainian NGOs to ensure that children returning to parents and relatives would not go home to dangerous situations. Local organizations began to link arms with churches in order to identify where these children were going and how they could come along side families, or if needed, intervene to provide care.
Sadly, the mother of Victor, Lev and Christina was unwilling to take her children back and tried to make arrangements for a friend to look after them instead. At first the sibling group was happy to be out of the orphanage and had hopes of seeing their mother again, but those dreams were soon dashed as they found themselves unsupervised and the woman intended to care for them instead left for days on end, leaving the children alone. The situation was reported to the authorities and the children were transferred to a hospital for observation. That’s when the small NGO, ‘Be Free,’ founded by a church in the region stepped in to help.
Finding Family in Ukraine
The employees of ‘Be Free’ started visiting the kids, bringing food, assessing their needs, and praying. The staff knew that more than anything these children needed a loving family to step forward to provide a healing home, as unfortunately their biological mother had no intent to return. Prayers were soon answered when Sergey and Julia, a couple from the local church heard about the brothers and sister and stepped forward to open their home as a foster family.
Today, seven months later, Victor, Lev and Christina have settled into life with Sergey and Julia. As each month passes, bonds are forming and Sergey and Julia have shared that the kids are really beginning to flourish in their new stable environment and seem to enjoy becoming family unit. What Sergey and Christina didn’t realize when they opened their home to the sibling set was that the children had two more brothers! When they learned that two additional brothers were also in need of a home, they were quick to say yes, as they understood the importance of keeping the family together.
Thanks to Ukraine Without Orphans and organizations like ‘Be Free,’ the church in Ukraine is mobilized to action and children are experiencing the care of safe and loving families.