Saturday, June 22nd, 2024 Church Directory
NIKITA, ANDREW, IRENA, AND ARTUR take a moment to pose for a family photo. (Patriot Photo by Don Bellach).
IRENA AND ARTUR finally reach Minneapolis, MN. (Submitted Photo by Heidi Ewing).
IRENA AND ARTUR share a meal at KFC in the airport in Warsaw, Poland. (Submitted Photo by Heidi Ewing).

The best gift on Mother’s Day is family

It can sometimes be a struggle for some families to be together on Mother’s Day.  

Sometimes schedules don’t line up or families are unable to travel.  Sometimes, things simply don’t work out.  Thankfully, for Irena Demikh, things did finally work out.  This upcoming Mother’s Day, she will be able to spend the day with her entire family because after more than seven years of struggle, they are all living in the same country and in the same house.  

Backstory

In 2010, Irena met her husband Andrey Demikh, a Ukrainian living in Coon Rapids, MN.  Soon after the birth of their son, Andrew, Andrey decided to move back to Ukraine and Irena and Andrew followed.  While in Ukraine in 2013, they had their second child, Artur.  When citizens of the United States have children in foreign countries, they can go to their nearest U.S. Embassy and register that child so that the child will have U.S. citizenship.  Andrey and Irena simply didn’t have the money to do that at the time, so Artur remained solely a Ukrainian citizen.  

In 2016, Irena’s marriage with Andrey fell apart and her and Andrew’s visas were expiring. She and Andrew had to return to the U.S. while Andrey would remain in Ukraine with Artur.  Irena and Andrey made a plan.  Artur was going to be sent to the U.S. on a later date to live with his mother, but those plans changed when Andrey remarried.  Andrey had decided he wanted Artur to stay with him.  Irena was devastated and was forced to Skype and use Messenger to communicate with her son.  Yet she never forgot the plans they made.

Through tears, Irena explained, “I was always there for him (Artur), but I wasn’t close enough.  He was still in my heart.  He was still my baby.”

Fighting

She continued to plead with Andrey and asked him to change his mind.  Then in December of 2023, Andrey became ill and passed away.  Irena admits to never really being close to Artur’s step-mother Iryna, but in December they grew close, speaking almost every day.  Iryna understood Irena’s plight and helped in any way she could.  

In the days following Andrey’s death, Irena received help from many people.  Her fiance’s family helped Irena hire an attorney from the firm Aust Schmiechen, who specialize in immigration issues.  Mrynna Rutan, her attorney, told her what she needed to do to get Artur to her.  They also contacted Tom Emmer’s office.  His staff helped her obtain an emergency visa for Artur in days instead of months.  

While completing documents and turning them in, Irena hit a wall.  The process was halted because of an error in her documents.  Irena was originally a Russian citizen and was adopted in 2002 by a family in Big Lake.  During that process, her birthdate was changed.  Thankfully, Irena was aware of this discrepancy and was forthright about it.  That is the reason the Department of Homeland Security allowed the process of Artur coming to the U.S. to continue, but Irena still had to wait, not knowing when Artur would be able to leave Ukraine.  

“I was praying and I was asking people to pray.  My best friend from work, who was so involved, saw me bawling so hard.  I said, ‘I cannot do this anymore.  I can’t wait six more weeks to get my son back’, but she said, ‘God has a reason for that.  He needs you to be patient.”

Trusting

Irena admitted she is not a very patient person, yet she found a way to be.  She truly believed that God was doing something.  On March 18, 2024, she learned what that was.  That was the day Irena received a phone call from her lawyer. It was good news - her paperwork was complete.  

Irena shared that when she found out, she was so happy.  She was so relieved.  She reflected back on that day and said, “You have to be patient for something that you want so bad.  I prayed and people prayed.  I was like, please God, please.”

Those prayers were answered.  On April 23, 2024 Irena and her fiancé flew from Chicago, IL to Munich, Germany to Warsaw, Poland.  From Warsaw they took a bus to Lviv, Ukraine.  An hour later, they were in Chervonohrad, Ukraine at the apartment where Artur lived.  Her fiancé videotaped her reunion with Artur and in that short video, you can see their joy and happiness in that moment.  With Artur’s bags packed, they left Ukraine.  

Other than one minor setback at the border between Ukraine and Poland, Irena flew back to the U.S. with Artur and her fiance.  On Tuesday, April 25, 2024, her whole family was finally together in the U.S.  Artur was reunited with his older brother Andrew and he got to meet his new sister Nikita Ewing, who is three years old.  

Happy Morther’s Day

For Irena, Mother’s Day will be about being together as a family.  She doesn’t have any extravagant plans - she only wishes to spend the day with her children in the garden planting tomatoes and cucumbers.  Throughout the summer, that garden will be a reminder for her to continue to be patient.  She will have to be patient as her vegetable garden grows, hoping it will yield an abundant harvest in the fall for her family to share.