TOPEKA, Kansas — A Kansas couple is trapped in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, unable to leave with their newly adopted children because of violent protests that have claimed dozens of lives and forced government offices to shut down.
Don and Lisa Jenkins went to the former Soviet nation to finalize their adoption of four children and bring them back to the United States. But now they are not sure when they will be able to go home.
Don Jenkins told The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1bRn7WY ) he doesn't know when — or if — the paperwork needed to obtain visas for the children will arrive. Until then, he, his wife and the children — Tatiana, Angela, Natalie and Roman — are stuck in an apartment less than a mile from Independence Square, the site of the bloody protests.
"We can see smoke," Don Jenkins said Thursday night from Kiev. "If I went outside, I could probably hear the gunfire. But I don't want to go out there."
The protests were peaceful back in November when the Jenkins, who also have two grown sons Tyler and Taylor, made their first trip to Kiev to begin the process to adopt the three teenage girls and 9-year-old boy.
Don Jenkins said he and his wife had gone to Independence Square along with some 1.4 million people gathered to protest the government's decision to become closer allies with Russia rather than moving toward alliance with the European Union.
The wave of violence and bloodshed that erupted this week has put the Jenkins family in a scary and unpredictable situation.
Jenkins said he didn't know how much the violence was going to escalate, but he was worried that fighting could spread to other parts of Kiev. Some protesters gathered outside his apartment building Thursday before moving on, he said.
"We don't feel safe here at all," he said.
Jenkins, 50, said he and his 46-year-old wife had finished the paperwork for passports for the children and were waiting for visas to be completed so they could come back to the U.S.
He said the family was told that would take between three and five days, but now it's anybody's guess when the paperwork would be finished.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Kiev "has done nothing to help us," Jenkins said, with repeated phone calls that get nothing but an answering machine.
"They're doing everything they can at this time to get us home," Jenkins said. "But I'll feel better when there's actions behind it."
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com