Local families seeking help to reunite with Ukrainian host children

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — It’s been almost 5-months now since Russia invaded Ukraine, and for several local families that have hosted young "orphaned" Ukrainian children, they’re dealing with one big setback. Due to the war, the children are stuck overseas.

News10NBC talked to three local families that are seeking help to reunite with their host children and care for them here in America.

According to the families we talked to, many of these children are stuck in poor living conditions. They’re pleading with the US State Department to grant these children the documents they need to travel to America.

"They’ve been here. They’ve been in our home, almost a part of our families," said Theo Wheeler.

He and his family have hosted 12-year-old Sophia at their home in Fairport. Wheeler says the young Ukrainian was last here over the Christmas holiday.

"We had just as much fun and bonded, and unfortunately we sent her back just before the war broke out," said Wheeler.

More than 5 million refugees escaped the war, fleeing into Poland where most of these children considered "orphans" currently live in refugee camps.

Meghan Schlock, and her family were in the process of adopting 11-year-old Oleksii. His biological mother lost her parental rights, but Oleksii is stuck now as all adoptions have been put on hold.

"I talk to him multiple times a day, and he just says how many days, how many days until I can come back to America, and it’s so hard to not have an answer," said Schlock.

Jill Krenzer adopted her son Kyle last year after hosting him in the past. She would like to host 10-year-old Vanya, and his 8-year-old brother Yan, who has special needs. Krenzer tells us the wait to bring these children back to their host families is awful.

"We feel like even though legally they’re not our children, we feel like they are our children. They call us mom, and dad. Our kids their siblings. So for us it’s not an option to just leave them there, and not keep that contact," said Krenzer.

Each family has traveled to Washington DC to meet with our State’s elected lawmakers.

"Congressman Morelle is amazing, and he’s willing to help us, but the roadblock we’re having is the State Department isn’t willing to give a formal invitation to Ukraine government so the kids can come over," said Wheeler.

The families who want to host children told News10NBC they would return the children back to Ukraine when it’s safe. They all want to provide them with a safe home, and the type of love only families can give.