Salinas family plans to adopt Ukrainian teenager

Family will head to war-torn nation this week

Salinas-Ukraine adoption

SALINAS, Calif - As the conflict in Ukraine escalates, Russian president Vladimir Putin said the nation is on the brink of a civil war.  We hear from a couple from the Central Coast, that's headed for the war torn nation for love. 

The U.S. State Department states on its website, it doesn't recommend any unnecessary travel to the Ukraine because the foreign embassy has limited resources to help Americans right now. 

Monday was the Ukrainian-imposed deadline for Russian troops to lay down their arms and leave the country. The Russians didn't budge.  It's a move seen across the globe as an escalation in the crisis that has snarled world diplomacy.  Russia said it's saving Ukraine from "ripping itself to pieces". 

We spoke with the Chavez family of Salinas to find out why they're setting their fears aside, traveling thousands of miles to adopt a child who needs a family.   On Tuesday, the family told Central Coast News that the benefits of taking the trip to Ukraine outweighs the risks.

"Officially on paperwork he's not our son.  But in my heart he is my son and if your son is in a war zone and he needs to get out, I'll do what I can as a parent to go get him," said Alex Chavez.

Danielle and Alex are headed to the Ukraine on Sunday with their 3-year-old daughter to officially adopt 17-year-old Sergey.  The Chavezes said Sergey's been living as an orphan after his mother gave him up, his father was murdered and his aunt could no longer care for him.

"Kids end up in prison, or sex slavery or committing crimes and want to commit crimes just to have a place to sleep," said Danielle.

Their relationship with Sergey began when they served as a host family a few years ago.

"Within two weeks he started calling me daddy, which was very heartwarming to me.  He really opened up to us and we really opened up to him," said Alex.

Sergey came to visit a second time, and from then on, he was family.  But the adoption process hasn't been easy.  It's taken a year and a half and a lot of paperwork for the Chavez family to get to this point.

"In the beginning, God has called us to do this," said Danielle.

The Chavez family will stay in the Ukraine for a while, taking time to understand more about Sergey's home country.  They want to get to know his friends before bringing him home to what they hope will be a better life.  This time it will be forever, because they know this kid needs them.

"Begging us to come and get him and it breaks your heart," said Danielle.

The Chavezes said fortunately Sergey is not in Crimea.  He's is in the western region of the country, while most of the civil unrest is happening in the east.  

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