It’s been just over a month since Trish Braun returned to Canada with their second set of siblings from an orphanage in Ukraine.

Taking a break from her job at Southern Health, the mom of 8 kids from Grunthal, is feeling much relief after her experience during the second adoption process turned out better than family and friends were concerned it might have.

2022 began with Trish and her husband Mike, in the process of adopting 3 children from Ukraine. This was their second adoption from the orphanage. Their first time around, in 2019, resulted in adding 3 children, who were also siblings, to their family of four.

Different than the previous time, when the Braun's travelled together to meet the siblings and bring them back to Canada, it was decided it would be best if Mike stayed behind in Grunthal to work and take care of the kids and so, Trish began the journey on her own, having arranged with her husband, to “throw up an S.O.S. signal” if trouble should arise. They were already aware of the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. So, if necessary, he would fly out to meet her.

With the volatile situation in Ukraine, it wasn’t possible for her husband to travel. Braun explains, “things became more difficult for him to come (to Ukraine), with only about three weeks left in the adoption process. The kids had been living with me for almost a month."

n Ukrainian), so I wasn't really paying attention to it. But no one else seemed to be doing anything out of the ordinary until that very last day when we got the phone call. I said to our friends “Is this a little bit panicky?” And they said, “Yeah, I think that might be a good idea for you to get moving. If they're telling you to go, you should probably go.”

Braun says, “It certainly didn't take long after that where we saw where the escalation happening, although where we were, we didn’t see much difference. I was grateful for that.”

“I think the news was more unsettling for my friends and family from home (Canada). The messages I was getting from them were much more stressed and panicked than I felt in Ukraine. All our worry kind of subsided once I got on a plane with the kids and got back to Canada.”

All smiles and thumbs up from these first-time flyers.

The trip home ended up being a 48-hour journey. With many things going wrong, missed flights and layovers in airports. But also many more things going right, “with the kid's passports and visas. The kids didn’t speak English. They didn’t eat the food in the airplanes. But they were so good to travel with. Honestly, if we could have picked any three kids to travel with, they wouldn’t have been any better than these three. We are so super thankful. It was very exciting for everybody, they were excellent.”

Thinking back to February 17, the day Braun got home to Grunthal, she is grateful for how smoothly the whole adoption process went and has high praise for her Ukrainian facilitation team.

“They were the ones doing the interpreting, making sure the paperwork and court stuff is in order. We also had friends in Canada making phone calls to government agencies to try and find ways to get the kids the visas required to enter Canada and get us all home safely.”

As for the orphanage and the friends the children left behind, Braun says that they have all been evacuated.

“They are no longer in Ukraine, but they are safe. So, we are thankful for that. But the kids from the orphanage are certainly very much in limbo. They're doing some schooling remotely, but not sure how long that will be or if they'll be able to go back (to the orphanage or Ukraine) or when and what's going to be available to go back. There is a lot of unsettledness.”

Braun continues, “There are a lot of family members and extended family that our kids have (in Ukraine) that we’re in contact with pretty much daily basis. But we're so thankful to be home (in Grunthal), but there's definitely a level of stress knowing that there's family and friends there (in Ukraine) that are under extreme duress, and we certainly wish we could be doing more than what we're doing. I know there are lots of people (in Canada) trying to collect money and all the things that they need and trying to get those things to them.”

Trish and the children arrive safely at the Winnipeg Airport on February 17, 2022Braun expresses her thanks for all the help but also that the entire process is over.

“We are incredibly thankful to have them join our house. It's like they were always meant to be here. They fit right in. It's been quite fun sliding them into the group that we had previously. They've done amazingly! They have all started school. They're adapting super well. They're starting to eat food that they've never seen before, and they are being very gracious about it. It's been really fun. This time around I learned more of the language, so that seems to have helped with some of the transition because they don't speak any English yet. But we are working towards some of that communication more and more, but overall, it is so great. So thankful to be home.”