Ukrainian kids are taken away from parents – is this how the laws work?

12:04 03.04.2024 •

Social services in some European countries have taken away 255 children of parents who had arrived there from Ukraine, the Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmitry Lubinets told local media. The news was brought by the Russian newspaper Vedomosti.

Lubinets added that he had asked Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denis Shmygal to discuss this situation with the authorities of the European countries in question and help resolve the issue.

Most of the Ukrainian children were removed from their parents by social workers in Germany (71), Poland (33), Italy (25), the Czech Republic (24) and Sweden (17).

“In January 2024, I, as the Ombudsman of Ukraine, sent a letter to Prime Minister Shmygal with a request to cooperate with other countries on the level of competent authorities and based on pertinent (interstate) agreements. Our main goal is to facilitate the return of the young Ukrainian citizens to their legal representatives,” Lubyiets noted.

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He explained that in most cases Ukrainian children are taken away from their parents or legal representatives due to the absence of necessary documents, as well as due to inadequate performance of parental responsibilities, if child protective social services workers deem it as such. In the latter case, we are talking about a child being shouted at, physically abused or left unattended for a long period of time.

Among the many problems that Ukrainian refugees have been facing in Europe, the one that strikes them the most is an encounter with juvenile justice. Yelena Kovaleva, a migrant from Dnieper, said that she had moved from Ukraine to Germany with her four-year-old son. Initially, they lived with a German family and subsequently moved to another place with more comfortable conditions.

However, soon after, she had her child taken away from her after someone had tipped off the social services that she was allegedly not taking proper care of him.

At the same time, those who knew the family well said that Yelena had been working hard to buy everything her son needed.

“When they came in and told me to my face that they were taking away my son, I asked them: ‘Where is your warrant? How come? You can’t take away a part of me,’” Kovaleva said.

She was then summoned to court, which determined that she could see her own son once every eight months. Later, there was a second court hearing during which Yelena’s parental rights were suspended.

Yelena burst into tears right in front of the judge, only to be advised to register with a German psychiatric clinic or be forced to be placed in hospital without the right to leave the room.

“It is your own child, but you can’t see him, you can’t hear him, and the only photos of him you can get comes via email,” Yelena said.

Now, meeting with Russian-speaking women, Yelena tells them how her child was taken away from her. According to the host of a Russian television program, Igor Prokopenko, who investigated these facts, there are about 80 such cases happening in Germany each year.

“According to the German judges’ logic, the fate of Ukrainian children should be decided not by their mothers, but by some unfamiliar men out there. This is not without reason, because Ukrainian babies are often given to anyone else, rather than their own families,” Prokopenko noted.

On the Internet, you can come across many video messages from women telling how they had arrived in European countries from different cities across Ukraine and lost their children due to juvenile justice. Moreover, they now have to prove that their stories are genuine and not fake.


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