After rescuing Andrei from a near-death situation last October (see Rescued from Death), The Ukraine Without Orphans (UWO) team who found him began an investigation. Given his treatment at the orphanage, the team was very concerned and wanted to find out more about his family situation, whether there was a possibility of reunification, or perhaps placement into a foster or adoptive family.
They found out that Andrei’s mother and father were still living, and had sent him to the orphanage not because they wanted to relinquish their son, but because the had been persuaded by their doctors and social workers that he would be better provided for by the “specialized” caregivers and medical staff at this special needs orphanage. The family lived in a rural village where there were no doctors or specialists who were equipped to help Andrei. So with heavy hearts, but thinking they were doing the best for their son, they sent Andrei to the orphanage.
Within months, Andrei’s health had deteriorated. It is suspected that the orphanage did not want their reputation to be darkened by the situation, so the staff transferred Andrei to a state-run orphanage. Andrei’s family was not informed. When they found out, they immediately began the legal process of being reunited with him (required because they had sent him to the orphanage). But much damage (emotional and physical) had already been done to both Andrei and his parents through this time of separation.
Further treatment was needed for his cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and respiratory disease, as he’d experienced a childhood with lack of medicine, poor care and poor nutrition. Andrei was transferred to a regional children’s hospital where he was taken care of properly for the first time in years.
However, two weeks later, after he had stabilized a bit, the local authorities issued orders to send him back to the orphanage that had sequestered him in that room to die. Although stabilized, he had all the signs of atrophy and malnutrition. Providentially, enough concern was generated that, instead of going back to the orphanage, he was transferred to a special pediatric hospital unit in Kiev where he was properly diagnosed and attended to.
During that time, our UWO partners hired nurses to provide round-the-clock care for Andrei. He gained 11 pounds and began sleeping for several contiguous hours. His mother visited him multiple times a week. He began recognizing and responding positively to his mother and his caregivers.
Now our UWO partners are working to rehabilitate Andrei’s family and reunite them with their son. They are also setting up a support system in the family’s local community. In the meantime, he is living with a temporary foster family with frequent visits from his biological mother.
A team has also been assembled to thoroughly investigate the situation of that orphanage and others in the region, and criminal investigative proceedings have been initiated so that this story will not be repeated with another child. Thank God with us for partners like Ukraine Without Orphans who work tirelessly to ensure that children are placed in loving families. Please pray that Andrei and his parents will be together again soon!