When war broke out in Ukraine, six adopted children feared being taken from their foster parents and forced to return to Russia. They lived for the next few years without knowing when they would be reunited.
First, considering her six children who were not home, she was alerted to the invasion.
The two were sent to a municipal holiday home near the sea for fresh air and general wellbeing.
Heavy shelling from the war made it too dangerous to harvest the olives.
Olga had to choose: Denis could drive to Mariupol and get the children, but it would be dangerous. Or she could stay in Mariupol; it was still relatively safe.
“We started to panic and didn’t know what our next move should be,” said the woman.
Olga realised how chaotic the at-war world could be when the east arrived. It started to sink in that she would not come home as soon as planned.
Olga found herself in the middle of the war with her children and tried to take care of them while they waited for their evacuation.
The stresses of the conflict were intensifying, and many of the kids exposed to it did not have a good future ahead.
Reports show Russians, both adults and children, being forcibly transferred to Russia. Moscow denies these are “evacuations,” while Ukraine believes they are similar to transfers under Stalin in the 1940s.
The author admits they are crazy but also happy to have children as they gave them emotions that they would not otherwise have.
The family struggle to reconcile and rebuild in difficult times.
The wire to the hospital was being shelled, which cut off the power, and children no longer had a way to charge their phones. This meant Olga could not speak with them anymore.
The Lopatkins were bombed and suffered from bombings in their town of Vuhledar.
The family will drive to Zaporizhzhia, where many displaced children will likely be taken.
The family is not safe, so they move to Lviv.
Denis’s mother was afraid that he would be drafted into the army. They decided it was best to flee the country.
Olga, Denis and their three children became refugees less than two weeks after the war started. Olga says she never gave up hope of getting her children back.
A story of hope in the face of adversity
The family was talking to their children in Germany when they got the call.
The patients had been transferred to a TB hospital, where they arrived from a sanatorium.
A new documentary reveals the devastating truth that Ukrainian orphans are facing.
“I knew they couldn’t help us, but when the news broke lo, st hope and felt like a dead person,” he says.
Feeling helpless, Olga continued to post on social media. However, she only received attack messages, criticism and suggestions.
The woman that was willing to speak out about the war in Ukraine
“I tried every way to publicise our situation, hoping that someone would hear something and be able to help us,” she says.
France – This small town of Loue has a capacity of residents, and the couple found happiness with jobs and a house.
The mayor of a town invited ten Ukrainian refugee families to settle there.
Despite their dispute, Olga and Timofey establish a regular phone call routine.
The Kyiv authorities refused to release the children to Donetsk. But after a while, they agreed and let them go.
But it was not that simple. They would only give them to their legal guardian – Olga. And she would have to return away from the place she had just fled.
“Ironically, people are fleeing Russia; I would go there,” she laughs.
For a while, things were at an impasse. The Donetsk social services were demanding Olga send the children’s birth certificates to prove their identity, but she worried this would lead to them being put up for adoption.
Russian TV broadcasts reports on the “evacuation” of civilians from Ukraine’s “liberated” regions.
Due to a new decree issued by the President of Russia, Ukrainian citizens can obtain Russian citizenship more easily. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry was unhappy and claimed it violated human rights laws.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attributed the deportation of up to two million Ukrainian citizens (including hundreds of thousands of children) to Russia.
Then, in June, Olga received a phone call. There was someone in Donetsk who could bring her children to western Europe.
Tatyana, an experienced volunteer, has a relationship with the authorities and her willingness to help made her a well-qualified candidate for the advisor role.
The parents, Olga and Denis, handed their children’s documents to Tatyana and assumedly signed a release form that would make her an emergency legal guardian. They had to take a leap of faith and hope it was right.
The process was complicated, but they were only informed at the last minute that their paperwork had been accepted and they would be reunited soon.
“It was hard for me to explain MY situation over and over,” says Tatyana.
She took the children as far as Berlin, handing them over to Denis, who drove them to their new home in Loue.
Teresa Ruggiero received a call.
There was laughter and tears as Denis, then Olga, embraced their children. Denis had to believe his eyes when he saw them for the first time since being taken, hostage.
The grandmother, Olga, was overjoyed to be in the presence of her grandchildren again.
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