A family from Ellicott City, Maryland, that was in the final stages of adopting a teenage boy from Ukraine now fears for his safety and doesn't know when - or if - the adoption will happen as Russia continues its attacks on the country.
When Jennifer Ruff and her husband Matthew thought about growing their family, they said they knew they wanted to adopt a teen boy from Ukraine who could soon age out of the system.
They hosted Sasha for a few months last year and he became part of the family.
"We love him. He is our son. He’s not our son on documents yet, but he is our son and we love him just as much as we love our biological children," Jennifer Ruff said.
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But as Russia's war on Ukraine progresses, Sasha remains stuck in Ukraine with no idea if and when he can escape.
"To not be able to rescue him, provide for him, keep him safe and at this point, to really have no access to him, and especially no legal access to him, is just a lot to take in right now," Ruff said.
Dozens more children are stuck in limbo. The Ruff family is working with the group Host Orphans Worldwide, which says all Ukrainian adoptions are now on hold.
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"So many were so close to getting these kids out and getting them home," Jill Krenzer, spokesperson for Host Orphans Worldwide, said.
Krenzer herself is currently trying to adopt two sons from Ukraine.
"It’s just really hard. It's really hard because we don’t want them to lose hope, and we want them to know that we’re still fighting for them," she said.
The Ruff family says they were supposed to be in Ukraine about this time, but, instead, are anxiously awaiting updates and hoping for Sasha’s safety.
"He’s always checking in with me and asking how I’m feeling right now. And I’m like that is, you know, it’s just incredible that he’s in the middle of a war, he’s experiencing it firsthand and yet he’s still checking in on us and loving on us," Ruff said.