Ukrainian boy adopted by local couple finally arrives to his new home in Central Texas

Andriy(Courtesy Photo)
Published: Mar. 18, 2022 at 6:12 PM CDT
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ABBOTT, Texas (KWTX) - It was a surprise hero’s welcome home in Abbott Thursday night for a Central Texas mother who traveled six-thousand miles, landing just outside a warzone, in order to rescue her adoptive son from Ukraine.

Brittney and Matt Hejl, of Abbott, had a police escort as they arrived from the airport with their son, Andriy, 16, to a surprise crowd of around a hundred people in front of Abbott High School Thursday night.

“It was awesome,” Brittney said. “It’s good. It’s just crazy.”

Friends and family lined the streets to show their support for the family and particularly the teenaged boy who has been through so much the past month.

“Just to let them know just how much we love them, and I don’t know if they even realize how many prayers everybody has been praying for them. We’re just so excited this miracle is finally happening,” one woman said.

Another friend added words for the Ukranian teen who has lived in the basement of an orphanage for days as sirens and explosions went off outside.

“Welcome to Texas,” she said. “We are so happy that you are here, and we are excited to see what God is going to do in your life.”

Andriy smiled big and waved to the crowd from the back seat of his parents’ car, his face showing signs of much needed relief after four weeks of uncertainty.

The Hejl’s first met Andriy in 2015 through an orphan hosting program. He would come visit once or twice a year but wasn’t able to be adopted as he had living grandparents who were considered legal guardians.

When they died, Andriy became eligible for adoption in 2019.

Brittney and Matt officially adopted Andriy in January and were scheduled to travel to Ukraine on March 10 to bring him to Texas to live with them and their three other children when war broke out.

Brittney and Matt prayed and waited with bated breath for updates from their son.

Last week, Brittney traveled to Poland with hopes of bringing him home.

Then, through a lead on Twitter, Matt found a ministry that’s been evacuating people from Andriy’s city in Ukraine.

“This ministry group actually supplies different churches around the world with music equipment but recently shifted to focus to humanitarian efforts,” Matt said. “They’re willing to drive towards and into the heat of danger to get people out, and I think that’s amazing.”

Hejl says getting Andriy out of Ukraine was a logistical nightmare since Andriy’s city was completely surrounded.

The Hejl’s say they want to thank Central Texas for their support and their prayers which they believe led their son to safety.

“Thank you, always thank you and keep praying,” Brittney said. “This is just one of lots and lots and lots. Keep praying for this country and thank you for praying this one home for sure.”

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