Family back in Canada after adopting Ukrainian sons during Russian invasion

·2 min read
Darren and Aliza Mathura are seen here with their adopted sons, Valik, right, and Ivan, left. (Submitted by the Mathura family - image credit)
Darren and Aliza Mathura are seen here with their adopted sons, Valik, right, and Ivan, left. (Submitted by the Mathura family - image credit)

Darren and Aliza Mathura are getting a crash course in just how hectic parenting two young boys can be — but they wouldn't change it for the world.

"It's really good. But we're tired," Aliza said with a laugh during an interview with CBC News in their Oshawa, Ont. home.

"It feels right. It feels like it was meant to be."

Last month, the Mathura family finally got back to Canada after war broke out in Ukraine. The Russians invaded right around the time that Darren and Aliza were there trying to finalize the adoption of their two sons: eight-year-old Valik, and six-year-old Ivan.

Fighting in the country intensified, but the adoption still wasn't finished. That left the Mathuras with a choice: they could leave Ukraine for their own safety but jeopardize the adoption process, or they could stay in the country to make sure they could bring their newly adopted sons to Canada.

Darren told CBC News it was never really a question for them, because "you never leave your family behind."

They stayed and saw the process through to the end.

"It's like it's complete now, what we've been waiting for so long for," he said.

Submitted by the Mathura family
Submitted by the Mathura family

The family decided to adopt from Ukraine for a couple of reasons, Aliza said. One is that she grew up with a lot of Ukrainians and long loved the culture and its people. The second is that it was a shorter approval timeframe, and the couple was hoping to start a family as soon as possible.

So the pair made applications for provincial and federal approval and paperwork to send to Ukraine last June, and then got an appointment date to start the process overseas in November. They first met Ivan and Valik at the boys' orphanage in Chynadiiovo in the middle of December — and the connection between them was palpable right away.

"As soon as we saw them ...," Darren said. "They were ours," Aliza said, finishing his sentence.

But the four couldn't just return to Canada right away, as there was an approvals process before the adoption could be finalized, Aliza said. In that time, the Russian military rolled into Ukraine with horrific violence breaking out in different parts of the country.

Locals assured the couple they were safe in the boys' village, but the far-off sound of air raid sirens still kept Aliza up at night.

Submitted by the Mathura family
Submitted by the Mathura family

Then, in March, the family was finally given permission to leave. They travelled through checkpoints to Budapest on March 24, before boarding a plane to Canada on March 30.

The speed with which the new family left meant some of the things they were hoping to obtain — like updated birth certificates and Ukrainian passports — were left behind.

But that matters little now, with the family finally back home and settling into their new lives.

"Luckily we're safe, we're home and we're happy," Aliza said.

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