TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A pair of twins in their mother and father’s arms this holiday season, thanks to the Tampa-based nonprofit, Project Dynamo.
“For most of these families,” explained Bryan Stern. “This has been a very, very emotional and complicated and expensive and difficult process.
After trying to have kids for years, two Texans got pregnant via a surrogate in Ukraine. But when the war with Russia broke out, the surrogate mother fled to Crimea, then to St. Petersburg, Russia. After she had the twins, they were put in a Russian orphanage, where foreign nationals aren’t allowed to adopt.
“This family’s been trying and trying and trying for so long,” said Stern. “And getting nowhere. Just a lot of hope that turns into more despair.”
Since the twins’ birthday in September, the two parents went to Estonia, on the Russian border, to try and get them. While the U.S. State Department and other officials were supportive, the geopolitical situation was too tricky for any official action.
So they called Project Dynamo and its founder, Bryan Stern — who initially thought the babies were in Ukraine.
“When we learned that the babies are in St. Petersburg, Russia,” Stern recalled. “We said, ‘Oh wow. This is a totally, totally different banana.'”
Dynamo has rescued nearly 70 babies in about 60 operations, many from Ukraine.
“We have an entire program that we call ‘Gemini,'” Stern said. “Which is our surrogate baby program for western families who had children born inside the war zone.”
More than a dozen people across five countries put together a plan and got the babies out in one day.
“This was our first case, though, where we’re doing it inside Russia, as opposed to inside Ukraine,” Stern said. “Complicated by, you know, the war zone is complicated, but administratively and legally, a bit more permissive.”
Stern said in the end, it took two miracles — getting the babies out of the orphanage and crossing the border — to get the two miracles home safely.
“It’s really awesome when you get to deliver a baby to a family,” Stern said. “You feel like a delivery room nurse.”