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Adoption at an impasse, North Texas couple stuck in Poland for a third week

The Department of State offered discouraging news for the couple stuck in Warsaw, Poland and unable to bring home two Ukrainian brothers they planned to adopt.

WARSAW, Poland — Brad and Lisa Mills hoped that when the awoke in Warsaw, Poland on Monday morning that they would finally receive word of a compromise that would allow them to return home to Prosper, Texas with their two new adoptive sons. 

Instead, Ukrainian officials remained firm in their final requirement to finalize the adoption which puts the Mills in limbo -- three weeks and counting.

Their two-year journey to adopt two Ukrainian orphans came down to one final signature. Artem, 14, and Max, 13, were evacuated from their orphanage in Vinnytsia at the start of the war and transferred safely to a refugee camp in Poland.  

The Mills say all of their documentation, including travel visas issued for the boys, were in order. Coordinated by the Dallas adoption firm Hope International, they traveled to Warsaw to pick up the boys, make final arrangements and return home with them the second week of April.

But Ukrainian officials demanded they cross the border, make the 465 mile drive from Warsaw to Vinnytsia to the orphanage to sign a final "transfer of custody" document in person. 

Last week they received word that a compromise might be in the works; perhaps being allowed to meet the appropriate Ukrainian officials at a border checkpoint and sign the necessary document there.  

But on Monday, Brad and Lisa Mills told WFAA that Ukrainian officials are standing firm, requiring the Mills and the two boys travel back to the orphanage to finalize the adoption.

"To ask us to come back into a war zone with the kids doesn't seem the right thing to be doing at this point," Brad Mills told WFAA last week.

A Department of State spokesperson responding to WFAA's request for information on the case said that the Ukrainian government has stated that at this time, "adoptions are not possible." That "it can be extremely difficult in circumstances like the current conflict in Ukraine to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for intercountry adoption and immigration under U.S. laws."

As for potentially entering Ukraine to finalize the adoption, a Department of State spokesperson said their general guidance is that they "strongly encourage prospective adoptive parents to defer travel to Ukraine at this time and for those currently in Ukraine to depart immediately if it is safe to do so using any commercial or other privately available ground transportation options."

Meanwhile, the Mills have been told that they might have to wait for Ukrainian legislators to change the law about that final signature -- a process that could take months, if not years, due to current circumstances and it would require them to leave the boys behind in Poland until then.

Meanwhile, the Department of State offers the resources of the Office of Children's Issues which prospective parents can contact directly at Adoption@state.gov. Also the Department of State's adoption info and guidance can be found at travel.state.gov.

The Mills are still trying to determine their next course of action. A GoFundMe site is being used to help defray the costs of continuing to stay in Poland as they further negotiate any options that surface to bring the boys home.

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