- The Washington Times
Thursday, April 28, 2022

Tens of thousands of displaced children in Ukraine — as well as refugee children in surrounding nations — need financial and medical assistance from overseas and not adoption bids, experts in the field said this week.

“There are some U.S. families who are offering to adopt children from Ukraine,” Elli Oswald, executive director of Faith to Action said in an interview. “While there are children who’ve been separated from their families, these children do not need adoptive families at this time. At this point, every effort needs to be made to locate their relatives, their kin, or other personal connections.”

Those wanting to help, she added, should “support work that keeps families together, and reunites children who’ve been separated from their families as soon as possible.”

Ukraine, Ms. Oswald said, “has placed a moratorium on adoption, including intercountry adoption” during the wartime emergency. The country understands that “adoption could be an option in the future after the crisis is resolved,” she added.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine, now more than two months old, has been met with fierce resistance from Ukrainians but has also created new problems. Most of the country’s men between the ages of 18 and 60 have been prohibited from leaving the country, meaning that roughly 90% of the more than 5 million refugees and 8 million “internally displaced” people the war has created are women and children.

“With displacement comes the loss of community and social capital that people have in terms of friends, relatives, community members and institutions that they rely on for support,” said Myal Greene, CEO and president of World Relief. 

Heather Dyer, executive director of A Family for Every Orphan, said the group is working with partner organizations in Ukraine and neighboring countries to help.

“Whenever a family’s needs are not met, children are at an increased risk of being trafficked or abandoned,” Ms. Dyer said. “Just about every single one of our partners is involved in family strengthening activities: providing food for folks who are serving in areas that are a little more stable, making homes livable.”

Another nonprofit, World Without Orphans, was formed in 2008 when leaders learned there were 30,000 adoptable children in Ukraine. Since then, the number has dropped to under 5,000 who qualify for adoption.

“There was so much progress before the war,” Karmen Friesen, principal coordinator for the group said. “It’s really heartbreaking to see the loss and trauma that the people of Ukraine are experiencing now.”

Mr. Friesen urged concerned Americans to support organizations that are providing care for families and displaced children in Ukraine and surrounding countries.

“It can be everything from food, and an income to those that don’t have an income to making sure they’re able to provide for their family,” he said. “It can be groups that are providing education for the kids who are out of school, or groups that are providing the psychosocial counseling support or parenting support.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Heather Dyer’s affiliation.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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