When news began of Russia’s impending invasion into Ukraine, a Turner family felt their hearts drop.
Chelsea and Andrew Davies have recently hosted twin orphan boys from Ukraine at their home. Now they want to bring the boys back to Maine and out of danger.
The twins, known by their initials A. and D. for safety reasons, have become like family to the Davies and their 2 1/2-year-old daughter since they both visited in December. Increasingly concerned for their welfare in Ukraine, the couple wants to bring the boys and their older brother to Turner to shelter them from the war.
The family has spoken and messaged with all three boys in Ukraine, and has had some contact with the teachers who are with them, Chelsea Davis said Friday. Most of the messages come from D.
“He is afraid for his life, but then in the next breath he’s telling me, ‘Mommy, it’s going to be OK. Please don’t cry,’ while there are sirens going on in the background,” she said. “It’s nothing any child should ever have to go through.”
A. and D. live in separate facilities, Davies said. After hosting A. over the summer through a group called Host Orphans Worldwide, she and her husband brought both twins to Turner in December, where they celebrated Christmas and their 12th birthdays together.
The boys blended readily into the family and were easy to love, she said. She and her husband want to help get them out of the war zone by working with the host organization.
There were 56 families across the U.S. who hosted Ukrainian children over the holidays, according to Host Orphans Worldwide Executive Director Janelle Pseil. The organization is working with many of the families to shelter the children in the U.S.
“Some of the children have already been evacuated out of the country to the U.S.,” Pseil said Friday. “We don’t always know where they are. The children are being moved around to keep them safe.”
The process is complex. First, the Ukrainian government must approve each request to transfer a child from the country. The U.S. government must grant visas for each traveler, and the family needs to fill out multiple forms, as does the hosting organization. When children are cleared for travel, they are assigned a chaperone to go with them and they board a plane to the host country, Pseil said.
In the meantime, they can usually converse with their host families from secure locations via telephone and wi-fi.
Of the families who host these children, most actually want to make the arrangement permanent.
“The majority, between 75 and 80 percent, actually adopt the host children,” Pseil said.
A volunteer-run ministry based in Wyoming, Host Orphans Worldwide states on its website that It costs about $3,000 for a family to host one child, no matter the length of the visit. Those funds cover travel expenses, an accompanying adult while they travel, various administrative costs and medical insurance while the children are in the United States. Food, entertainment and other costs are the responsibility of the host families.
The website also makes clear that Host Orphans Worldwide is strictly a hosting facilitator and is not involved in adoptions.
If they can bring them to Maine, the Davies plan to house the boys until Ukraine becomes safe enough for them to return home, ending the temporary hosting agreement. But the couple wants something more permanent.
“Our long-term goal would be adoption, but that’s not something that can easily happen with everything going on right now,” Davies said.
The couple began a GoFundMe campaign on Feb. 22 with the goal of raising $10,000 to enable the boys and their older brother, M., to come to Turner.They were already nearly halfway to their goal on Friday morning, with $4,270 raised so far. Chelsea Davies titled the fundraiser “Bring our boys home safely.”
The couple are also encouraging people to reach out to their senators and politicians to ask the U.S. government to grant emergency visas to the children who have host families, so the kids can shelter in the United States until it is safe to go back to their homeland.
Davies is grateful for the support people have shown not only them but other host families who feel torn apart by the war.
“It would mean the world to us to have them here, because they are a part of our family,” she said. “Just knowing that they’re safe would be amazing.”