What is it like to take an almost adult orphan girl into custody and give her a childhood. The story of Lera and Olya

What is it like to take an almost adult orphan girl into custody and give her a childhood.  The story of Lera and Olya

A writer and communicator from Kyiv, Olga Tymchenko, took into custody a 17-year-old orphan girl, Lera, who was deported by the Russians from occupied Novaya Kakhovka.During the occupation, the girl enrolled in a medical college in Kyiv, and later returned to the territory controlled by Ukraine.

40-year-old Olga told about his decision – to take custody of an almost adult child – on the Facebook page. The post became very popular and received many favorable reviews.

Olga and Lyera told “Ukrainian Pravda. Life” about the history of their acquaintance and plans for the future.

History of Lyra

Lyera became an orphan at the age of 13. She lived in the Kherson region, in Nova Kakhovka, with her grandparents. In 2022, the girl’s hometown was under occupation.

Lyera recalls that the Russians announced an evacuation, gathered all the adults and convinced them to agree to the children leaving the city for 2 weeks. Another 500 children on 12 buses were sent to the occupied Crimea together with Lyra, they were accompanied by Russians with machine guns.

Lera spent 2 months in a camp in Crimea, then her grandmother took her from there. They did not return to Nova Kakhovka because of constant shelling, so they stayed in the city of Henichesk. There, Lyera submitted documents to the medical college in Kyiv, and began to think of a plan to leave the controlled territory.

The girl went on a long journey alone. She drove through occupied Melitopol, Berdyansk, Mariupol and Novoazovsk and reached Russian Rostov. She says that it was the only and, hopefully, the last time she was in Russia. Then she entered Ukraine through the only open border in Sumy Oblast.

“Of course, there were problems with the Russian border guards at the border: a minor child was going somewhere alone. But they had nothing to complain about. I had all the documents with me, and the legend that I was going through Ukraine to Europe,” – remembers Lera.

The girl came to Kyiv, where she settled in a dormitory of a medical college. She likes it very much in the capital.

“I used to go to Kyiv for a festival as a part of a dance team. Now I live here. Kyiv is cool, it’s right for me.” – shares Lyera.

Lyera’s boyfriend is also an orphan from Novaya Kakhovka. They have known each other since childhood. He returned to Ukraine from Ireland for the girl’s sake. Now he studies in Kyiv and lives in a dormitory.

After returning from the occupation, the girl studied with a psychologist at the “Voices of Children” public organization, where she met Olga.

After several meetings and joint trips to the cafe, Olga offered Lyera to take her under her care

Olga about guardianship of Lyera: “I believed that fate would bring her to me”

Olga Tymchenko began to think about adopting a child after the start of a full-scale war, when many children lost their parents.

“Before the invasion, I realized myself professionally, traveled. And then I began to think about the fact that I want to help some child, regardless of age and gender. I believed that fate would bring her to me, I am a Buddhist and believe in karma. That’s what I decided just to be open and wait when I meet such a person” – says Olga.

The woman works in the Children’s Voices NGO, which deals with the problems of deported children: provides them with psychological help and protects their interests. It was at work that Olga heard about Lera.

“I heard that there is such an adult, intelligent girl beyond her years, who got out of the occupation. Our first meeting was on Zoom, and last fall, we met for the first time in our office, where I gave her a tour.” – says Olga.

After several meetings and joint trips to the cafe, Olga offered Lyera to take her under her care. The girl immediately agreed.

“I was surprised, but for some reason I understood that this is my person. I immediately said yes. We had tears. Then we sat down and talked about how to do it.” – says Lyra.

Then Olga and Lyera began to formalize guardianship: they wrote statements, submitted documents. Olga received a certificate from a psychiatrist, a narcologist, about a criminal record, underwent a medical examination, submitted a declaration of income and provided an apartment lease agreement.

After that, representatives of the children’s service came to Olga’s home and checked the living conditions for Lyra, namely the availability of a separate room, a sleeping place and a desk to do homework.

Olga also attended courses for guardians and adoptive parents, where they talked about the age-specific features of children’s development, how to interact with state authorities, and how often inspections will take place.

“We waited a month for a decision. The whole process took us 4 months. On March 6, 2024, I received a document and read that now I am responsible for the child’s physical, moral, psychological and spiritual development. After that, I realized that I was taking Lera from dormitory, although the guardianship rules do not require it.” – says Olga.

Olya chose guardianship, not adoption, because this procedure is faster. After all, Lyeri will turn 18 in half a year, and she will become an adult, and you may not have time.

Olga and Lyra

Olga and Lyra

“There are five of us now!”

At first, Lyera, Olya and her three cats lived in a two-room apartment. Then Olya decided that now her family needed more space, and rented another one – a three-room apartment.

“I wanted each of us to have a room and one shared. We were lucky to find such an apartment. We recently moved. We like it very much. We watch movies and play with cats in the common room. I think Lyera decided to live with me because of them! Now we are “four”, – says Olya, smiling.

In their spare time from work and studies, Olya and Lyer attend various events, including the Philharmonic, theaters, cinema, botanical garden, and a painting master class.

On Oli Lyera’s birthday, she decorated the apartment with balloons: it was their first holiday as a family.

“The main thing is that we support and understand each other” – says Olga.

Olya also wants Lyera to finally have a “children’s” summer.

“Because, unfortunately, she had a lot of adult experience. I want her to be a little bit like a child,” – says the woman.

So in the summer, the girls plan to go to the village of Kirovohrad Oblast, where Olga’s parents live.

“I have a house left over there from my grandmother with a garden. There are trees, roses. I will introduce you to Lera’s parents. They were, of course, surprised when I confronted them with the fact, writing in the family chat: Hello everyone, I am taking custody of a 17-year-old girl”. When they meet, they will love Lera, because I have parents with a big heart, and Lera is very good. Let’s swim in the river, sunbathe. My steppes are similar to those of Kherson. I think Lyra will be pleased.” – shares Olya’s plans.

Why it is important to become a “support adult” for an orphan child

People who want to help a child deprived of parental care, Olga recommends paying attention to older children. Most adoptive parents want to take a young child. However, there are more teenage children in need of care than young children.

This is especially relevant for those orphans who were deported to Russia. To make it easier for them to return home, they need guardians, or “support adults.”

“The Russians give deported children to their families. In particular, the military, they are raised there in their own way, they are “converted” to their faith, so to speak. They are also promised education, apartments, etc. The children communicate with each other. And it is very important that they return to Ukraine to their families so that they have guardians.” – says Olga.

For those who do not dare to adopt because of the long procedure, Olga recommends to formalize guardianship.

You can find a child who needs care at website of the Ministry of Social Policy.

As the chairman of the board said in the comment “UP. Life”. GS “Ukrainian network for children’s rights” and program director of the MBO “BF “SOS Children’s Towns” Ukraine” Darya Kasyanova, guardianship is established by the child’s relatives or people with whom she has a relationship.

“The child needs to know this adult who is ready to take him under his care.” – says Daria Kasyanova.

However, the director of the foundation believes that adoption is best in the child’s interests.

“Because the guardian is obliged to take care of the child only until he comes of age, and the adoptive parents – for the whole life of the child. That is, an adopted child has the same rights and obligations as a native child of the family.” she says.

All requirements for candidates, documents and other family forms of education can be found in detail get acquainted in the presentation of the Ukrainian Network for Children’s Rights.

Darya Kasyanova also noted that most of the children who lost relatives in the occupation or the Russian Federation and were returned to Ukraine with the help of the network, were placed under the care of relatives or in foster families.

Yana Osadcha, especially for UP. Life

Original Source Link