The news and world events of the recent weeks have been challenging to watch. Bombings, evacuations, and visions of desperation fill our screens. Our hearts break for the devastation the Ukrainian people are experiencing. The CreatingaFamily.org team is holding the people of Ukraine and Russia in our thoughts and prayers.
Not surprisingly, whenever we see tragedies unfold, we also see an uptick in interest from people interested in adopting children orphaned by the tragedies. Whether it is a natural disaster like the earthquake in Haiti or the typhoon in the Philippines or military actions like Afghanistan, or now, acts of war in Ukraine, people feel the need to respond.
We Should Not Rush to Adopt from Ukraine Right Now
The events we see all around us are terrible to watch. We all feel helpless, and we hurt for the innocent children caught in this madness. We understand this heart-felt desire to rush to the rescue. The instinctual response of most humans is to step in and do whatever we can to help a child to safety. However, running in to rescue a child who this war may orphan is not that simple. We all know the reality: war separates children from family and even ultimately orphans them. However, the goal should always be to reunite them with family.
Given that we have no idea how long the war in Ukraine will last, it’s impossible to know when efforts at reunification can begin. “Helping” the children by adopting them before attempting to reunify families is rarely the best approach immediately after a disaster. Here’s what we know, based on international law and the practical logistics of international adoption.
A child must be legally declared an orphan to be eligible for intercountry adoption.
In the aftermath of military activity, it can be surprisingly hard to determine if a child is truly an orphan or just temporarily separated from family. The government and relief organizations must move slowly to allow immediate and extended family members to find each other. Anything less than thoroughness in this process leaves the child and the program open to fraud. The widespread impacts of that vulnerability are many.
Once a child is determined to be an orphan, every effort will be made to find members of his extended family or community to adopt him. Families are already spread out all over the country and into other nations. Efforts of reunification take time and thorough documentation. Reunification and family preservation will be the priority. However, literally and metaphorically, Ukraine will need time for the dust to settle before they can contemplate resuming legal, ethical adoption processes. As we’ve said before,
“A rush to adopt in the aftermaths of a national disaster or war also opens the door to unscrupulous actors taking advantage of children and those who want to “rescue” them.”
The families already in process need answers and support.
We can all agree these are not regular times. From a practical standpoint, the Ukrainian government is stressed to the max. They will be for a long time to come. They are busy coping with the immediate needs of their people. The Ukrainian Department for Adoption and Protection of Rights of the Child (DAPRC) will need to first deal with the children who have come into care. Then they will be able to turn to the many families already in the process of adoption when the war began.
More information on the Ukraine Adoption process.
In March, the US State Department issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for Ukraine. The recommended restrictions on travel will likely be in place for some time. Updates are posted at the State Department site linked here as they are available. When travel does resume, the priority will likely be those families already in process.
If you are a family in process with Ukraine and you have not yet heard from your adoption service provider, please reach out to them today. They are the first and best source of reliable information and updates on your process. We know that these are troubling days for you and your family and our hearts go out to you. Please consider joining an online support group for adoptive families through your agency or connecting with families in the Ukraine program for the support and care you need at this time.
*Updates From The US State Department Below:*
- 5/27/22 – US Department of State shares update on Judicial Hearings in Ukraine.
- 5/5/22 – US Department of State acknowledges the situation in Ukraine continues to be of grave concern to prospective adoptive parents but warns that the travel advisories are still at a Level 4: Do Not Travel.
- 3/25/22 – US Department of State shares a summary of updates and information for parents who are in the process of adopting from Ukraine, including advisements about those considering traveling to the region.
- 3/23/22 – US Department of State shares an additional update from Ukraine’s Department of State’s Special Advisor for Children’s Issues that children are not being approved for temporary travel or for adoption to the US at this time.
- 3/23/22 – US Department of State shares an update of the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy that children are not eligible for intercountry adoption or adoption-based visas at this time.
- 3/21/22 – US Department of State warns of misinformation and shares a statement from the Ukrainian Ministry of Social Policy.
There Are Many Other Ways to Help
If you feel a tug on your heart to help a child, please consider becoming a foster parent. There are approximately 500,000 children in the US who need homes. The recent CreatingaFamily.org podcast, How To Become a Foster Parent, is an excellent resource to get you started in that direction.
There are also many ways to help the children who are in crisis in Ukraine right now. Here are a few we’ve found* who are already putting plans in motion to serve. In addition, we’ve listed a few reputable sites that are listing resources to consider. We encourage you to do your research to find the charitable organization that fits your family’s values and intentions.
- Save the Children’s Emergency Fund – Save the Children
- USA for UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency
- Reaching out to Help Ukrainian Crisis – Convoy of Hope
- Devastation in Ukraine: How the Red Cross is Helping – Red Cross
- Soaring Concern for Human Rights and Human Lives as Russian Invades Ukraine – Amnesty International
- 13 Ways to Help the People of Ukraine Right Now – Forbes Magazine article
- Want to support the people in Ukraine? Here’s how you can help – NPR report
*Inclusion in this list of resources does NOT equal endorsement of the news organization or the organizations mentioned in their articles.
Image Credits: Vasenka Photography; UNICEF Ukraine; Adam Jones (cropped)
Add Your Comment
I’m a single strong grandmother living in Yucatan ( south of Mexico)
Reciving two young orphelins or a couple or single mother with Ukrainian kids from the war, in case you need me.
Thank you for reading. However, we are not a placing agency. Nor are we a refugee relief agency. You can reach out to a reputable organization doing care — we’ve listed several in the article.
God has been calling me to service. How can I open my home to those in need? I’m willing to take in families who are fleeing Ukraine. I’m also open to helping families of other disasters. How might I go about this?
We appreciate your generous intentions. As we stated in the article, there is no current viable way to pursue an adoption from Ukraine. And recently, the US State Department issued an update about hosting Ukrainian orphans and attending to the children who are in an identified adoption process. Suffice it to say, there’s not a clear path forward during times of war and the best any of us can do right now is fund and support the reputable organizations who are already doing work on the ground with established connections. There are a few organizations mobilizing to do refugee care — however, it’s becoming clear that there will be far fewer Ukrainian refugees to the US than to other nations like Poland. Maybe seek an organization of your choosing that works in Poland?
We are a couple married for 51 years and live in Minnesota. We have a five bedroom home and three dogs. We adopted two children through social services when we were young. They are grown with their own families. We are a Christian family and saw a little boy we would love to share our home with. He was with a group of orphans heading to Ikiv.
It’s kind of you to offer. However, as we said in the post, there are many other needs that the children of Ukraine are facing right now. We list suggestions at the end of the post, if you read all the way to the end.
Single dad here with the means to take on a couple of orphaned Ukrainian children (and/or single mother)
I’ve passed the USA background check, as I’ve done respite care as well.
If I can be of help, contact me
Please read the post in full.
Your comment (with its add-on about single mothers) is out of order. And just one example of why rushing to adopt is not the help that the children in crisis need right now.
Thank you for this compassionate and reasoned guidance on adoption in the face of this international conflict. People’s instincts are to ‘help’, but many may not realize the tremendous complexity of the process – and the need to first make every effort at verification and family reunification. I feel for those who are already farther along in the process – and the fear and uncertainty around physically claiming their intended child in the face of this devastating crisis. And thank you for reminding well-meaning people that there are many children here in the US foster care system who also need a promising future with good families.
Thank you for your kind words and for the encouragement. We, too are grieved for those who are in process. The stories we are hearing are indeed, devastating.