Utah Family Concerned About Ukrainian Orphans in Conflict

MURRAY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah)- As tensions continue to rise in Ukraine we take a step back from the political implications.  One Murray couple says the real victims in this battle are the innocent children.  According to the US Department of State, in 2012, Ukraine adopted out 1,240 kids.  That number has declined significantly in 2012 to 395 kids.  Tens of thousands of orphans still remain, unable to be adopted during this turmoil.

Emily, Elizabeth, and Andrew are all Ukrainian nationals who were adopted by Vern and Nanette Garrett from Murray.  They already had seven biological children.

"It started out with a dream. I had a dream of a little girl and in my dream I knew that her name was Emily,” said Nanette Garrett.

Shortly after, the Garretts got a pamphlet in the mail about adoptions in Russia and Ukraine.  In March 2002, they brought home eight-year-old Emily from a Ukrainian orphanage. Exactly two years later, they adopted her older sister, Elizabeth, too.

“We thought to ourselves wow, if every one of our friends could walk into this orphanage probably everyone would take one home,” said Nanette Garrett.

In 2005, the couple founded Save A Child Foundation.  The goal was to find Ukrainian orphans and connect them with Utah families eager to adopt.  On their first host trip they found Andrew and brought him home in 2007.  Our cameras were there when Ukrainian orphans made it to Salt Lake to visit families back in 2010.  Now, with ten kids, the Garretts worked to adopt out other kids in need.  But in the past two years, those efforts were stifled.

“The intent in Ukraine is to enable domestic adoptions instead of international adoptions,” said Vern Garrett.

With adoption costs, time, and paperwork doubling, Garrett says Ukraine made it all but impossible.  With the current crisis, adoptions now completely on hold…

“In Ukraine our sadness is most kids won't get adopted now, they want five or younger typically to adopt and we noticed most of the domestic adoptions in Ukraine that we observed were that age, three and younger,” said Vern Garrett.

And Nanette’s hear with the thousands still packed into orphanages.

“What are they doing, how can we still help them?” asked Nanette Garrett.

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