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The Benton family suffers when the adoption process is interrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine | Community


Benton, La- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought poignant images to households across the country. One Benton family feels the pain deepening as their soon-to-adopt children are in the midst of turmoil.

KTBS spoke with that family to learn their story and how they are doing everything they can to get their child home safely.

In the summer of 19, Stephanie Hardaway attended a mission trip to Ukraine. There, she meets Ivan, a Ukrainian orphan.

“And, there’s something that stands out to me about this boy that makes me immediately start nagging. He’s funny and cute and smart, kind and… perfect.”

Stephanie’s love for the boy grew, and her mother and stepfather soon shared their connection to Ivan, as did his brother Igor and his sister, Julia. The family soon decided to include the children in their family. Stephanie’s mother, Angie Kelly, said the decision to adopt came as a surprise.

“God put that in our hearts, it’s not something we have to do. Let’s be honest. I’m preparing to be my husband’s fifty-nine, sixty-three. But, when God puts something in your heart, he will call you to obey.”

Julia during the process visited the family three times. She enjoys painting, fishing, gymnastics, Cascio’s pizza, and mud hockey. Her last visit was for Christmas this year. Kelly said when Julia left Benton in January, they never thought the situation would get this bad so soon.

“In fact, I remember sitting on this bench, on New Year’s Eve, watching where they said the Russians had attacked along the border, and we celebrated that victory with her. put her on a plane on January 14th to return to Ukraine, thinking things had changed in the political climate there and that she would be safe there and the next time they saw her they would take her home with us.”

On February 14, the family submitted their final paperwork. While the final steps were ending, the Russians invaded. Now, the children are virtually legal members of the family trapped in a war-torn country with no clear way out. Kelly says the desperation of the situation changed her mind as the images of Ukraine worsened.

“And I have to be honest with you. At this point, it’s not about adoption. It’s about safety. I’d love for the kids to come here and be part of my family. That opportunity. may be closed because the kids have aged. But, for now, maybe all I’m an advocate for their safety. And if that’s a good thing.”

KTBS will have more on the story in the coming days. For now, the family says that anyone interested in helping can attend the Paws Fundraiser for Ukraine on Sunday, March 13.order in Bossier City. This event will take place from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. and will be held at the Three Happy Tails Dog Day Care Home. The family will be there and can provide information to anyone interested who wants to know more.



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