Refugees from Ukraine are deprived of parental rights and their children are taken away from them, and these are not isolated cases. What’s happening?
In European countries, cases have become more frequent when juvenile services make similar decisions regarding Ukrainian refugees. To understand what’s going on, edition “Country” considered several stories, although in fact there are many more. Perhaps some of them will help in a similar situation to somehow navigate.
Elena Kovaleva from Dnipro has two children: Alexander, 16 years old, and 4-year-old Richard. She says:
“I came to Germany with my youngest son Richard. The eldest, Alexander, stayed in Ukraine, he did not want to leave, but after a few months I persuaded him to come. After my arrival in March last year, Ukrainian volunteers recommended me a family ready to accept Ukrainian refugees “Besides us, 12 people lived there, including two children. It was like a small family-type boarding school. We lived there for 51 days. Then we were offered to move to a refugee camp: we were accepted, settled without problems. But a few days later, representatives of juvenile services arrived and They said that the family with whom we had previously lived complained about me. They wrote a statement that allegedly I do not look after my child, feed him little, I react too emotionally to everyday difficulties. And they told me that on the basis of this denunciation, I will be temporarily taken away from the child, until all the circumstances are clarified. The child was taken directly from the sandbox where he played. “
According to Elena, the juvenile services did not have any evidence that could confirm the words of the people who wrote the denunciation:
“To take my child away from me, it was enough that some people, without any confirmation, wrote a complaint against me that I was a bad mother. Nobody wanted to listen to my arguments, to understand the situation in any way at all. , stating that there would be a trial in this case, and there I could voice my arguments. First, my son was taken to an orphanage, and 10 days later they were transferred to an unknown family. The first court session took place two weeks later, at which they told me that I could see my son once every 8 months.
The second hearing took place four months later, and I was told that my parental rights were being temporarily suspended. After that, I burst into tears – and the court said that I needed to undergo a psychiatric examination and prove my adequacy, otherwise the child would not be returned to me. I hired a lawyer. He advised me to collect documents in Ukraine, confirming that I had never been on a psychiatric register, had not been prosecuted. He said that if I register with a local psychiatric clinic, they will immediately give me some kind of diagnosis. Doctors will simply point out that I am a refugee, I came from a war zone, and for them this is already the basis for some kind of diagnosis.
In Ukraine, I collected all possible characteristics from the school and university where I studied, from the kindergarten where my son went – they were all positive. But later it turned out that this was not enough for the court. Over the past 7 months, I saw my son only three times.
Now they want to take my eldest son, 16-year-old Alexander, from me. About a month ago, we went with him to a meeting with the youngest son, but there they told me that only the eldest son could see Richard, and I was forbidden. Then I started to break into the room where he was. The juvenile services called the police and said that I had inflicted minor bodily harm on them. Because of this, a criminal case was opened against me, on the basis of which they want to take away their eldest son.”
“The Ukrainian consulate in Germany is inactive. They told me that they could not help me in any way, since I received the status of a refugee and am under the guardianship of German law. There is a certain article 24 of the law on residence, which provides for the provision of temporary protection for refugees. When a Ukrainian receives refugee status, article 24 begins to apply to him, and with it all German legislation. Because of this, my children are taken away on the basis of German laws, and they want to try me as a German, not a Ukrainian. The consulate says they can’t help.
Elena Dashko is a resident of Severodonetsk who arrived in Germany in October 2022 with her nine-year-old daughter. She lived in a refugee camp for several months, then noticed that her daughter was not sleeping well and was sometimes very worried. The woman turned to a local psychologist in a refugee camp. She says:
“The psychologist asked my daughter to stay at their clinic for a few days, and they will observe her. It was not far from where we lived, so I agreed. A few days later, the psychologist told me that my daughter was getting worse, she she constantly screams, tries to run away, so they leave her in. After these words, the doctor called the juvenile services, who said that from that moment they partially limited me in parental rights. took away my parental rights and was told that now I cannot decide where my child will be.
Two weeks after she was taken away, I saw my daughter for the first time. She was in a terrible state, all scratched, there were bruises on her face, she practically did not speak. She told me that all this time she was alone, no one spoke to her, and if they spoke, then in German, which she does not understand. When I asked why the child had bruises, the doctors said that she hit herself. The clinic told me that I no longer have the right to visit my daughter, as she was appointed a guardian, and if I appear on the territory of the clinic, a criminal case will be opened against me, which was handed over to the relevant document.
After that, I turned to the Ukrainian consulate to help me sort out the situation. The consulate said that they could not help me in any way, since I was in the territory of another country and had to obey their laws.
Today I don’t know where my child is at all, they don’t tell me about it at the clinic. At the consulate, they told me that if the doctors took my child away, then it was necessary – they supposedly know what they are doing. Now my daughter is given some kind of psychotropic drugs, but I don’t know which ones. How long the treatment will take, they also do not tell me. After more than three months, I saw my daughter only four times.”
Elena bitterly states:
“The consulate is powerless. Only in Germany there are more than 100 cases when children were taken away from refugees. We are already uniting in communities, helping each other financially and legally. At the moment, I know of only one case when a child was returned to a family from Ukraine. We all want back to Ukraine, but we cannot do this while our children are here.”
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