Two North Texas parents have a lot to be thankful for after their infant twins were rescued Tuesday from a Russian orphanage.
The family from the Dallas area has since been united.
“I'm about to meet my twins for the first time,” said the mother, who asked not to be named. She was walking toward a van carrying the babies who had just been rescued from the Russian state-run orphanage by Bryan Stern, founder of the Tampa, Florida-based donor-funded rescue organization Project Dynamo.
It was the organization’s first operation in Russia.
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“I'm scared to death in every one of these cases, doesn't matter where it is, rescues are scary,” Stern told NBC 5.
In a video recorded by Stern in Narva, Estonia, a town along the Russian border, the new mom said they’d been waiting for the babies for seven years. That’s how long ago Stern said the couple has been trying to create a family.
“That’s why these cases are so special to us is because we’re in the last leg of an almost decade-long ordeal,” said Stern.
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The couple was pregnant with twins via a surrogate who lived in the war-torn Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
The surrogate fled the violence to Crimea, then to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she gave birth to a boy and girl in early September.
The twins were discharged from a hospital and sent to a Russian state-run orphanage.
“So probably, they would've been adopted out to a Russian family and lost forever,” said Stern.
Stern said the family has worked tirelessly for months to get their newborns out of Russian custody, without success.
They contacted Project Dynamo at the suggestion of a friend within the U.S. diplomatic corps who also had a baby via surrogate.
“We operate in what we call the gray space. The gray space is wherever the government isn't for whatever reason,” said Stern.
A week later, Stern flew to Narva, Estonia, then spent about a week devising a plan to rescue the infants.
“The two major hurdles were getting the babies released from the orphanage safely and legally. Number two, and legally is a flexible word, I'll say,” explained Stern.
The day-long operation was a success.
The only thing left to do was unite the 3-month-old twins with their parents.
“Ready to be a mommy?” Stern asked on the video. “Of course,” said the new mom as she stepped into the van to meet her babies who happened to be sleeping at the time.
It was a warm ending to a months-long mission by two determined North Texas parents.
“That's a big part of why I do it,” said Stern.
In a statement, the parents said:
“We are so thankful for the miracle Project Dynamo made for us. We have been incredibly frustrated and stressed since our babies were born, with trying to get them home to us to make our family. Project Dynamo cut through the red tape and got the job done at light speed. Project Dynamo made our family whole, and we’ll never forget that.”