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Ukranian Orphans Still Looking for Homes

Ukranian Orphans Still Looking for Homes



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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingThirty-one orphans from the Ukraine have been staying in Utah, as families get to know them and decide if they're interested in adoption. The children are heading back soon, but many could be coming back to live in Utah permanently.

Yulia, Galeena and Elena love Russian music and dancing. They're from the Ukraine where they live in an orphanage. But for the past two and a half weeks they've been learning about US culture, including the language.

Jim Soderberg, Host Parent: "We've got a Ukranian dictionary. Oh, we use that a lot. And we'll hold that up to Galeena and she'll pronounce the words so we know what it is."

Jim and Leslie Soderberg are the girls' host parents. They're looking to adopt the two younger girls, who are sisters.

Leslie Soderberg, Hoping to Adopt: "We would love to have these girls be back in our home in a more permanent capacity, for sure."

The Soderbergs were already looking to adopt when they heard about this cultural exchange through the "Save a Child" foundation. In all, 20 local families have taken in 31 orphans. Many will be trying to adopt the children they hosted.

Nanette Garrett, Save a Child Co-Founder: "I think there's quite a few, at least half, that have told us yes for sure."

The Soderbergs say they fell in love with their new house guests, who are around the same age as their other daughter Annie.

Jim Soderberg: "We were looking back at the pictures and every day was a new adventure."

The family loved seeing the girls get excited to eat unlimited amounts of food at Chuck-A-Rama, and laughed when they realized the girls recognized Barbie. The parents say the visit helped them learn more about the kids' personalities, like Elena's.

Leslie Soderberg: "You can tell she's got this spunkiness and it's fun to see that vibrancy. You wouldn't see that in a photo with some demographic information."

With all the wonderful memories they've made, the Soderbergs are not looking forward to seeing the girls go this Tuesday.

Jim Soderberg: "You get to know them, they become part of your heart. It's gonna really be empty here when they leave."

But they hope within the year they'll see the girls again, living in their home for good. Yulia, the third Ukranian child who came to stay with the Soderbergs is not adoptable. The family will now fill out paperwork and wait to see if the Ukraine approves it.

Tonight the foundation is hosting a benefit concert at Kingsbury Hall to help offset adoption costs.

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