Posted by: William Bistransky, Consul General, U.S. Embassy Kyiv
Each year, in November, the United States observes National Adoption Month. It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of family, to celebrate the adoptive families that have opened their hearts and their homes to orphaned children, and to advocate for safe, stable homes for children in need of adoption around the world.
As Americans, we believe that children have the right to grow up in a family that loves and protects them. It’s a value we and Ukrainians share, and why we were thrilled to have the opportunity to welcome Oksana Masters, who was adopted from Ukraine by an American family 18 years ago, back to Kyiv just a few weeks ago.
Oksana’s story is truly remarkable. Born in Ukraine, with both of her legs damaged by in-utero radiation poisoning from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor incident, Oksana was adopted from a Ukrainian orphanage by U.S. parents when she was seven years old and began rowing at 13. Today, at 26 years old, she’s a world class Paralympic rower and cross-country skier and a champion of the 2012 London summer and the 2014 Sochi winter games.
During her first trip back to her country of birth last month, Oksana visited an orphanage and a school for special needs children, and met with wounded soldiers and U.S. and Ukrainian adoptive families. She became an instant local celebrity and now has two countries rooting for her as she prepares for the summer games in Brazil next year.
Oksana is a powerful example of someone whose life was permanently and positively affected by adoption, and we are grateful that during her short stay, she was able to raise awareness of adoption issues and promote the adoption of special needs children throughout the country.
This and every month, we want to see more children find loving families that will support them, encourage them, and help them reach their fullest potential. That’s why we’re gratified by Ukraine’s efforts to join the Hague Convention on International Adoptions, and why we support Ukraine’s efforts to create a more transparent, secure, ethical adoption process that put the best interests of the child first.
This November, as we mark National Adoption Month, let us reaffirm our commitment to provide all children with every chance to reach their dreams and realize their highest aspirations.”
Learn more about Oksana Masters’ trip to Ukraine: