These families were adopting Ukrainian orphans. Now they have to wait out Russia’s war

by | Oct 15, 2022 | Top Stories

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Katie-Jo Page sits in a room she has prepared for Mykyta, a Ukrainian boy her family was in the process of adopting, in Snohomish, Wash., on Oct 2.

Annie Tritt for NPR

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Annie Tritt for NPR

KYIV, Ukraine — When Katie-Jo and Christian Page decided last winter to host a Ukrainian orphan in their home through the nonprofit Host Orphans Worldwide, adoption wasn’t actually on their minds. “We decided it wasn’t something that we were going to be able to do just based on the travel aspects and financial reasons,” 30-year-old Katie-Jo Page, from Snohomish, Wash., says. But then they met Mykyta — an 11-year-old with brown hair and bright, lively brown eyes from the Zaporizhzhia region in southeastern Ukraine. Page describes him as fun, joyful and a “good older brother” to their three young daughters. The family started the process to adopt Mykyta on the second day of his stay. “We just felt like he was a part of the family and he was meant to be in our family, so we knew we’d do whatever it took to make it official,” she says. Mykyta went back to Ukraine in January. The initial plan was for him to return to the United States in June for another visit, then they would go to Ukraine and finalize his adoption.

Ukraine had become the leading country from which Americans adopted children, surpassing China in 2020, according to U.S. State Department figures. But then Russia invaded in February, and the Ukrainian government halted all foreign adoptions. That left dozens of American families, such as the Pages, in limbo without a timeline on when they would get to finalize the adoptions and bring the children home. “That was heartbreaking; there was so much unknown,” Page recalls. She says at the beginning, Mykyta had “a lot of questions and he was asking when he was coming home.” A little like summer camp Mykyta and the over 100 other children in his orphanage fled on a bus in early March to eastern Poland, where they now live in a fenced-in facility made up of a series of trailers. The families interviewed for this story asked NPR not to name the organization caring for the orphans for the protection of the children. The organization has not responded to NPR’s interview requests.

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Jennifer Kelly-Rogers with her husband, Doug Rogers, in December 2021.

Jennifer Kelly-Rogers

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Jennifer Kelly-Rogers

Page has visited Mykyta there three times since he was evacuated — twice as a volunteer and once as a visitor along with two of …

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