‘There’s been so much prayer’: Family reunites in US after fleeing war-torn Ukraine
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB/Gray News) - A family with ties to Louisiana is back home after a tough journey out of Ukraine.
WAFB reports Jeffrey White Jr. was born and raised in Baton Rouge, but he moved to Ukraine in 2019, where he met his wife, Katya.
In February, the couple had their first child, Jeff White III. Two weeks later, Russian forces bombed and invaded their city in Ukraine.
The family was forced to flee to Poland and have spent the last two months fighting to get to Louisiana.
“It’s just really hard to believe it’s finally going to end. That we’re finally going to see them again,” said Jeffrey White Sr.
On May 21, the White family made it to the U.S. via a flight from Poland to Chicago and a connecting flight to New Orleans.
White Sr. and his wife got to meet their grandchild for the first time.
Even though the journey is complete, White Jr. said it wasn’t easy.
“It’s surreal. The heat and humidity are the only things keeping me in reality right now that I’m actually here,” White Jr. said.
He said it took them weeks to get a visa for his wife and just as long to get the proper paperwork so baby Jeff could travel.
Since their baby was only a few days old at the time of the invasion, they never got his birth certificate. So, they had to submit a DNA test to prove he was their son.
“The only ones that counted were the ones that came from specific American labs. So we had to buy it, get it sent over, and in Poland, they don’t do DNA tests at the embassy,” White Jr. said.
Additionally, on their flight to Louisiana, the couple said they were forced to make an emergency landing in Iceland after someone had a medical emergency on the plane. This delayed their U.S. arrival by a day.
“There’s been so much prayer and worry and thought and work that it’s amazing. I don’t think it’s registered that it’s actually over,” White Jr. said.
The family said it plans to throw a party in the coming weeks to celebrate the homecoming.
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