‘It’s sad and they’re stuck’: Maine man adopted from Ukraine reacts to Russia’s war in Ukraine

Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 5:20 PM EST
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WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) - The work of the Family Adoption Program at Maine Children’s Home in Waterville is not over after a child is placed with a family.

They are there to offer a lifetime of support to adoptive families.

Since Russia’s war against Ukraine broke out, they have been reaching out to adoptive families who have been affected.

One adoptee, Dima Anthony Tripp, raised $10,000 through his church connections at Life Community Church in Gardiner to travel and spend three months delivering necessities to Ukrainians.

“It was constantly very tense traveling,” he said. “There would be a stadium that I would go to competitions at, and then you would see pictures, and everything is ruined there. It was like, ‘Oh wow. I remember this place from when I was a kid.’

Dima Anthony Tripp was just 14 years old when he and his younger brother were adopted from Ukraine by a Maine couple with the help of Maine Children’s Home.

Fast forward seven years, and he gets the opportunity to return with the help of Life Community Church in Gardiner.

Dima spent three months in the war-torn country helping deliver necessities to Ukrainians.

“They literally don’t have anything,” he said. “As soon as the war started, whatever money people had, they would give it to their kids and send them as far away as possible.”

Dima and the others risked their lives to help people in his home country.

“Sirens would go off like every day, at least once a day. We would get bombed at night, too,” he said.

Many Ukrainians are living day-to-day with no power, no radio, little water, and wondering where their next meal will come from.

“There’s a lot of hungry people, and they are running to that truck” he said. “They are crowding it. Nobody wants to move. There’s people yelling. I am trying to help with distribution, and at the same time, I am trying to take pictures,” he explained.

Oftentimes, they were just miles away from intense fighting.

“One of the people I talked to was a son and his father. They were there trying to get some food, and he said there’s bombs and shots fired. Every day they would have to run into the basement and back up to their home. His wife was pregnant, but because of the war she lost the child. So, he said, ‘I lost a son, and he lost a little brother,” he recalled. “I talked to another guy that actually got captured by Russians, and he was in captivity for a week. It’s sad, and you’re stuck. You might think, why wouldn’t you get out? Well, how are you going to get out? Roads got bombed. When we went on these trips, maybe the only rule that we had is anything green you don’t step on because there are so many booby traps and so many mines, anything.”

Throughout the war in Ukraine, social workers at Maine Children’s Home have been checking in on families and adoptees, like Dima, dealing with unexpected stress brought on by the war.

Brian McArthur is the Family Adoption Program Director. He says it’s important for adoptees to make ties between their birth community, their adoptive family, and their adoptive community.

“There’s a lot of survivor’s guilt involved with having a good life over here while your friends and family may be suffering some of the issues with war. I think it’s fantastic that he found a way to become involved and that his community rallied around him and supported him in to be able to go over there,” said McArthur.

As winter approaches, Dima pleads with Americans to help the Ukrainian people, if possible.

“Money in the United States that you send over there, they go a long way. $5, $10, $20 - they help a lot,” said Tripp. “Who knows what this winter will bring? I think Putin will try and turn the war into his favor. I don’t know. It is going to be a very rough winter, I know that.”