Olathe family working to get Ukrainian orphans to safety
OLATHE, KS (KCTV) -- As the fighting continues in Ukraine, one Olathe family is determined to get a group of Ukrainian orphans out of harm’s way.
One of those orphans was on his way to becoming their adopted son. After one month as his host family, they began the process of adopting him the day before he flew back to Ukraine in January. Russia’s invasion cut that process short.
Now, what started as an effort to adopt one child has grown into a mission to move every child in his orphanage out of Ukraine.
“Our first and foremost priority is for these kids to get to safety,” said Matt Pflumm.
“There’s been a lot of tears for both of us this week. You know? It’s hard,” said his wife, Jessica Pflumm.
It was only a couple months ago that they welcomed Max into their lives over Christmas break as a host family for orphans in Eastern Europe. They used a translation app to speak, but there was no language barrier when it came to playing with their daughters, who are 7 and 11 years old.
“He really took in that big brother role,” said Matt Pflumm.
“We kind of called him a gentle giant. He was just kind of very big for his age and just kind of quiet but also really brave and stoic,” said Jessica Pflumm.
That stoicism persists in their nightly texts with him now on the cell phone they sent to him in Ukraine.
“This is such a God thing, but his phone,” Jessica Pflumm began.
It arrived the morning before Russia invaded. Without it, they would know he is okay despite taking cover underground at night, listening to sirens and explosions. As the fighting persists, in the wee hours, Kansas time, they avoid talking details, and focus instead on happier topics, reminiscing about his visit, asking what he wants to eat when he visits again.
“Just giving him just like any kind of seeds of hope that we can give him,” said Jessica Pflumm.
Their faith and faith community have helped them as they spend many waking hours making calls to bring him home.
They understand the complex adoption process will be put on hold. Now, their priority is simpler yet more expansive: to get all 43 kids in his orphanage across the Ukraine border, to a place without fighting, as refugees or otherwise.
“These kids are just like our kids in that they want a family. They deserve to be loved, just like any other child. And they’re really remarkable kids,” said Jessica Pflumm.
The Pflumms say they’ve been in touch with state and federal officials who are helping them navigate the red tape. They’ve set up a fundraiser on Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo to pay for what they describe as the resources needed to get the kids out. You can find it here.
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