Maine man adopted from Ukraine reacts to Russia’s war in Ukraine

WATERVILLE, Maine (WABI) – The work of the family adoption program at the Maine Children’s Home in Waterville is not over after a child has been placed with a family.

They are there to support adoptive families for life.

Since the outbreak of the Russian war against Ukraine, they have been turning to affected adoptive families.

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

“It was always very tense to travel,” he said. “There would be a stadium where I would go to compete and then you would see pictures and everything is ruined there. It was like, ‘Oh wow. I remember this place from my childhood.”

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

Seven years later he gets an opportunity to return to Gardiner with the help of Life Community Church.

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

“They literally have nothing,” he said. “Once the war started, people would give whatever money they had to their children and send them as far away as possible.”

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

“The sirens wailed like every day, at least once a day. We would also be bombed at night,” he said.

Day after day, many Ukrainians live without electricity, without radio, with little water and wonder where their next meal will come from.

“There are a lot of hungry people and they’re running to this truck,” he said. “They overfill it. Nobody wants to move. There are people screaming. I’m trying to help with distribution and at the same time I’m trying to take photos,” he explained.

Often they were only miles away from intense fighting.

“One of the people I spoke to was a son and his father. They tried to get some food there and he said bombs and shots were fired. Every day they would have to run to the basement and back to their house. His wife was pregnant but lost the child in the war. So he said, “I lost a son, and he lost a little brother,” he recalls. “I spoke to another guy who was actually captured by Russians and he was in captivity for a week. It’s sad and you’re stuck. You may be thinking why don’t you get off? Well how do you get out? Streets were bombed. When we did these trips maybe the only rule we had was don’t step on anything green because there are so many booby traps and so many mines, anything.”

During the war in Ukraine, social workers at the Maine Children’s Home screened families and adoptees, like Dima, who were coping with unexpected stress from the war.

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

“Living the good life over here while your friends and family may be suffering from some of the troubles of the war comes with a lot of survivor guilt. I think it’s fantastic that he found a way to get involved and that his community rallied around him and supported him in getting there,” McArthur said.

As winter approaches, Dima implores the Americans to help the Ukrainian people as much as possible.

“Money in the United States that you send there goes a long way. $5, $10, $20 – they help a lot,” Tripp said. “Who knows what this winter will bring? I think Putin will try to turn the war in his favor. I do not know. It’s going to be a very rough winter, I know that.”

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