When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, more than 200 American families were left without answers as to when they would see their children again. These families, who were in the process of adopting Ukrainian orphans, were told that their adoption of more than 300 children would be suspended until the end of the war.
Almost two years later, these families are no closer to holding their children, who have been stranded in shelters in and out of Ukraine and are suffering through deprivation, isolation, and other consequences of the war. Many of these children are being abused and starved. They have been separated from their siblings and some have been sold into sex trafficking.
The current images and stories coming out of Ukraine don’t talk about these children. No one is telling the stories of the missing and abused children and the adoptive parents waiting in agony for news. Parents who wake up every day wondering if their children are safe, where they are, if they are being fed, and if they have a place to sleep.
There is an answer to ending the suffering these families and their children are experiencing. And it can start now with the collaboration between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and US President Joe Biden. It starts with a conversation between these two leaders and a realization that action must be taken now to change the existing policies and allow these orphans to obtain a special US visa to come stay with their adoptive families temporarily.
These 200 families are not asking for a fast-track to adoption processes. All they want is an opportunity to shelter these children in America until Ukraine can resume their adoption proceedings. Once Ukraine opens adoptions back up, the families will return to Ukraine to complete the process. The temporary visa will ensure that the children are safe, fed, cared for and, most important, loved.
Many of these children have already lived in United States when they were hosted by their families.
They have experienced what their lives could be if they were granted a visa. As time goes on, the heavy weight of quiet bedrooms and empty chairs at the dining table weighs heavily on these hopeful families, while the children who are supposed to be part of those homes are thousands of miles away, not knowing where their next meal will come from or if they will have a safe place to sleep that night.
Only through a collective effort with both countries agreeing to allow these visas will these children have a chance to enter the US and reunite with their adoptive families. After living through the trauma of war, they deserve to have their government stand up and end their unimaginable pain.
Ukraine and the United States are allies on the battlefield and must be allies on behalf of these children. It is imperative that President Zelensky and President Biden work together to find a solution for these awaiting families. The relief that these families will feel knowing their children are safe is beyond measure.
The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.
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