Wednesday update: Day passes without passports for Topeka family in Ukraine

The Jenkins family

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Jenkins family continues to wait for their children’s passports. Wednesday passed in the Ukraine without a delivery.  There are normally two passport deliveries a day according to mom Lisa; one around 9:30 am and one around 2:30 pm. Both deliveries passed without word.


Fear has subsided, but frustration is setting in for a Topeka family stuck in the volatile country of Ukraine. The Jenkins family still does not have the two children’s printed passports in hand and have to wait for privacy reasons for them to arrive from nearly 6 hours away. The other two children’s papers still have not been printed.

The country’s president has stepped down and the opposition has taken control, but things in the government are continuing to move slowly. Dad Don says they are fighting frustration as other American families are heading home; some of them who were in line behind them. Another issue is that they don’t feel as though their adoption contacts and the country’s passport offices are communicating with them. Don noted a cultural difference. There, he said Ukrainians don’t see a need to let you know that there hasn’t been a change. He said they have tried to convey to the government that they want daily updates even if it’s simply that there hasn’t been any progress.

Today, the family ventured out to Independence Square, the scene of recent violent protests and killings. Although the government had warned them against it, locals assured the Jenkins that it was safe. Don says calling it a war zone doesn’t even begin to capture what they saw and experienced in person. He described makeshift memorials of helmets for those who died and widespread evidence of the fires that were set. The Jenkins have shielded their children from the weight of what has taken place but didn’t want to entirely hide their history from them. Don says the language barrier has made explaining it all difficult. Only one of their four Ukrainian children speaks English well, and even she struggles. She frequently serves as a translator between their parents and her siblings. This past weekend the family visited a mall and rode bumper cars about 25 miles away from the heart of the violence. Don says they are attempting to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Debt is quickly adding up for the couple who have now been off of work for weeks. Along with their bills back home, they have everyday expenses in the Ukraine, including paying for the apartment where they are staying. Don expresses confidence however that God is going to work it all out in the end.

Don and Lisa are anxious to return home for obvious reasons, but the kids are excited about Christmas. The family had hoped to be together in Topeka at Christmas, but the adoptions didn’t go through as planned. So, mom and dad promised the kids that they would leave the tree up with the kids’ gifts underneath until they could bring them home. Don says they will celebrate Christmas when they return to the Capital City.

Although two of the children will soon receive their passports, Don says they will not leave the other two children behind. The Ukrainian government has offered to place the children in a safe place, and allow the couple to return to the U.S. and come back when the paperwork is ready. However, Don and Lisa say they would never leave their biological sons behind. They feel no differently about their adopted children. Unfortunately, the family has no timetable for when the first two passports will be delivered and when the remaining two will be printed.

Meanwhile, a Montgomery, Alabama father has returned home with three of their family’s four adopted children from the Ukraine. David Bundy’s wife Lisa stayed behind to finalize the adoption of their fourth child. Their family also put up the Christmas tree, planning to celebrate once their mother and other sister arrive home. The fourth child’s adoption should be finalized March 3rd.

The situation in Ukraine remains tense, with protests today against those trying to form a new government. Protesters rallied in the Crimean peninsula against the lawmakers in Kiev who they call “bandits.” Some spoke of secession.

Ethnic Russians make up the majority of Crimea’s population. A top Russian lawmaker told activists in Crimea today that Russia will protect its “compatriots” if their lives are in danger.

Violent political protests last week caused the president, Viktor Yanukovych, to flee the capital. And now, the country’s parliament speaker, who was named interim leader, has delayed the formation of a new government.

The uncertainty over the country’s direction is causing investors to shy away from its currency and financial markets.

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