Family reunites in US after fleeing war-torn Ukraine

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB/Gray News) – A family with Louisiana ties has returned home after a difficult trip out of Ukraine.

WAFB reports that Jeffrey White Jr. was born and raised in Baton Rouge, but moved to Ukraine in 2019, where he met his wife, Katya.

In February, the couple welcomed their first child, Jeff White III. Two weeks later, Russian forces bombed and invaded their town in Ukraine.

The family was forced to flee to Poland and have spent the past two months struggling to get to Louisiana.

“It’s really hard to believe that 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 traveled to the United States via a flight from Poland to Chicago and a connecting flight to New Orleans.

White Sr. and his wife were able to meet their grandson for the first time.

Even though the trip is over, White Jr. said it wasn’t easy.

“It’s surreal. The heat and the humidity are the only things keeping me in reality right now when I’m actually here,” White Jr said.

He said it took them weeks to secure a visa for his wife and just as long to get the paperwork needed for baby Jeff to travel.

As 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 mattered were those that came from specific US labs. So we had to buy it, have it sent, and in Poland they don’t do DNA testing 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 arrival in the United States by one day.

“There has been so much prayer, worry, thought and work that it’s unbelievable. I don’t think it’s on record that it’s actually over,” White Jr said.

The family said they plan to hold a party in the coming weeks to celebrate the homecoming.

Copyright 2022 WAFB via Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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