LEVITTOWN, Pa. – As they flew back to the United States Monday night from Poland, Dmitriy and Maryana Kravchenko could only pray they would see their son again.
The Pennsylvania couple adopted the 16-year-old boy last week in Ukraine but because of a 30-day period that a judge ruled needed to be fulfilled before they could take him out of the country, Maksym couldn’t leave with them.
Then the Russians invaded Ukraine.
The Kravchenkos had to leave Maksym behind as they traveled two-and-a-half days by car to Poland and safety, so they could return to their three children here.
“We were literally hearing bombs,” Maryana said of their journey out of the country under siege.
Maksym is now in a bomb shelter with older men.
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“If needed, they will be asking him to fight,” said Yana Osipenko, a friend of Maryana’s who has organized a Facebook campaign to help the couple seek support for an emergency visa for their son.
The Kravchenkos, who were both born in Ukraine but moved here as children, can only do what they have been doing since they first met Maksym more than three years ago: pray for his safety until he can be reunited with them again.
“We met our son Maksym in 2018 through a program called Open Hearts and Homes for Children,” Maryana said. “This program hosts orphans from Latvia and Ukraine. Both my husband and I were born in Ukraine and felt especially drawn to this program.”
The couple have three younger children of their own and are devout Christians and members of the Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia. She is a doctor of optometry and her husband is a general contractor. They took the Biblical advice to care for a “fatherless child” seriously and decided to open their own home to Maksym.
“He meshed so well with our family right away,” Maryana said. “It felt like he was ours even then. The bond only grew through the course of four hostings. It’s hard to put into words but he just fit in. All three of our children love him.
“For years, he waited for us to get him and not once did he complain. He’s very positive. Maksym is always willing to help and always tries to do the right thing.”
And he’s taken a real liking to America, she said.
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“He wants to be in a family and with this comes a move to America, which he doesn’t mind at all. He loves America, especially the yummy food and kind people. He has been an orphan for many years and told us he prayed to find a family while traveling to that first host trip.
“When we were told to travel for court, after many delays, our court date fell on the 24th of February, at which point Ukraine was already experiencing attacks from Russian forces and war had broken out,” she said.
The couple hoped the judge would allow them to take Maksym with them, but it wasn’t to be.
They are now seeking help from Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick and Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to ask the Ukrainian government for an expedited visa for their boy “that would increase the chance of our son not only coming home to us but remaining alive,” Maryana said.
Fitzpatrick confirmed his office has been in contact with the family. Casey’s office spokesperson said the family was welcome to reach out.
“Our story has been one of simple faith where God has led us over the course of 3.5 years as we acted in obedience to His Word, which calls us to care for orphans. Through that obedience we gained a new son.”
The couple is not sure now how they will get Maksym here as the two men who worked with the adoption agency are now in military service in Ukraine, but they remain hopeful and have received some help from the United States Department of State, as well as financial support from two agencies that help families with adoption expenses.
“We’re trying to raise a quiet ruckus,” Maryana said. “Our son needs to be with his family.”
Follow Peg Quann on Twitter: @pegquann.