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'No one needs grown-up children'. Story of mother who adopted 8 kids and saved them from Russian occupation

'No one needs grown-up children'. Story of mother who adopted 8 kids and saved them from Russian occupation Natalia Rodnykh (photo: Vitalii Nosach / RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

In Ukraine, there are up to 70,000 children deprived of parental care, orphans, and children removed from their parents. Of these, 23% live in foster families or family-type orphanages.

Natalia Rodnykh is raising 10 children, eight of whom she and her husband adopted. In February 2022, they had to urgently leave the occupied part of the Kherson region, and a few months ago the family lost their father.

RBC-Ukraine talked to the Rodnykh family about their first meeting with children, their large household, and the challenges of a full-scale war.

How it all started

Natalia is 45 years old. She lived all her life in Beryslav, where she started a family and ran a farm. Her husband provided for the children by working in shifts in two cities. That was until her biological son and daughter decided to move to the capital.

"The children are in Kyiv, and it's just me and my husband. We sat down and realized that it was too much for the two of us. There was a lot of land, a big house, a huge yard, and the silence we were not used to was a little bit too much for us," Natalia recalls her first thoughts of adopting children.

The couple's children unanimously supported their parents' decision. Therefore, in two months, the Rodnykh family had a big addition - eight children. But at the same time, it's a lot of work and responsibility.

"These are children who may come into our family, and in their entire life with us, they may never believe us. We discussed all this with each other at first. We decided that we needed adult children. Why do you prioritize adult children? Maybe it's a little rude because no one needs them," the woman says frankly.

'No one needs grown-up children'. Story of mother who adopted 8 kids and saved them from Russian occupation

Natalia Rodnykh and her husband adopted eight children (photo: Vitalii Nosach / RBC-Ukraine)

To make friends with his children, the father found a fairly simple but effective way to become their friend. And it paid off.

"When my son came to visit us on New Year's Eve, he told us that it was so cool. His words were as follows: "I am proud to be born into this family and to have such parents." It means we are doing what we need to do, it means we are doing something good," Natalia is convinced.

'No one needs grown-up children'. Story of mother who adopted 8 kids and saved them from Russian occupation

Natalia's husband and biological children (photo: personal archive)

Today, her children help her a lot with household chores and support her whenever she needs it. During our stay at the Rodnykh's house, we became convinced that the relationship between them was truly sincere and warm.

How the family faced the large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, the family harmony was interrupted by a loud explosion. That day, the eldest son Edik woke up early for school. It is located exactly where the Russians started the shelling.

"Across the river, we see the explosion, that is, we woke up from the explosion and this flash. It was such a flash! I don't even know how to describe it. We jumped up. What was your first thought? The child was there. My husband ran to start the car, and I started mine. I called my son," Natalia recalls that day.

She did not immediately believe that the war had started. But the boy assured her that he had seen the planes drop bombs.

Therefore, the couple with eight children had to leave the city of Beryslav in the Kherson region.

After the city was liberated, the family decided to visit their home to take at least their children's belongings and surviving appliances. But the occupiers took everything, even the children's underwear.

The death of her husband

Natalia has always had great support from her husband. In September, he died of a heart attack. The woman assumes that he had developed health problems long ago due to the stress he had experienced, but he did not talk about it.

"When we came under occupation, I saw how nervous he was. He was afraid that the car would be taken away, he was afraid that we would be raped, he was afraid that the food would be taken away, and that we would not be able to get out of there. Many reasons. He lived in this stress to the last, constant stress," says Natalia.

A visit to the doctor revealed a pre-infarction condition.

The hardest thing for Natalia was to tell her children. At first, she told her oldest son, but their conversation was overheard by her daughter Tanya.

'No one needs grown-up children'. Story of mother who adopted 8 kids and saved them from Russian occupation

The family had a hard time dealing with the loss of their father, but they did not give up (photo: Vitalii Nosach / RBC-Ukraine)

The children had a hard time with this trauma, especially the youngest.

"A psychologist from the school said that Vladik took it very hard. They worked with him, and he cried. All his drawings are about a happy life, with his dad everywhere. So it was a great stress for the child... He did not call them by their names, he replaced them with affectionate words. That's what we miss, and it's very hard," Natalia recalls her beloved.

But despite everything, the Rodnykh family is a big team that will always find words of support for each other.

"I don't know, maybe it's right, maybe it's wrong. But I think it's right. I am happy with what I have and I am proud of it. And I want to continue my life in this way," Natalia says with a smile on her face.