A 19-year-old Massachusetts woman and her 9-month-old son have finally managed to escape from the war-torn nation of Ukraine unharmed.

Aislinn and Seraphim Hubbard are now free. Image courtesy of boston.com

Born at the Height of the Pandemic

Aislinn Hubbard has been studying at the prestigious Kyiv Choreographic College since 2018, before the world took a turn for the worse. She had also been busy teaching English as a second language. Ms. Hubbard had her son at home during the pandemic and hadn’t managed to obtain the necessary documents (a passport or birth certificate) for traveling with her baby. At the time of his birth, she hadn’t anticipated an urgent need to have to flee the country.

Seraphim’s father is a Ukrainian national and is forbidden to leave due to his government’s requirement that all men aged 18-60 must stay and fight.

Not long after the birth of her child, Ms. Hubbard had been advised by her parents and the US State Department that she should get a DNA test to make exiting the country easier in the event war broke out. She did.

A family attorney working with Aislinn to get her the necessary identifying paperwork for Seraphim died of a sudden heart attack before making much progress. It seemed the odds were against her. She described her situation briefly over the last few months as “a series of unfortunate events.”  

Little Help From the Government

Aislinn’s father, Dr. William Hubbard, went to Ukraine shortly after the war with Russia broke out in an attempt to bring his daughter and grandson back to their home in Massachusetts.

Dr. Hubbard wrote to his Senators and Congressperson but ended up with little to show for his efforts. Regarding the situation, he said:

“They just give us lip service. They emailed us two weeks ago and said to go back to Lviv and wait several weeks with no place to stay for some imaginary birth certificate to show up from a civil authority that’s not functioning because everyone has left.”

He added: “I feel like our senators and our congressperson have abandoned us to our own demise.”

Following this series of bureaucratic setbacks, the Hubbards had no choice but to attempt to cross the border into safety independently.

Forcefully Separated

When they reached the Slovak border, Ms. Hubbard had Seraphim ripped from her arms out of apparent concerns over human trafficking because she lacked the proper paperwork. Her son was returned to her later, but only after Aislinn showed Ukrainian government officials private, intimate photographs of her giving birth to Seraphim.

The Hubbards offered up the DNA testing results along with a letter from the US State Department confirming the child’s identity, but they were still detained at the border.

Dr. Hubbard explains what happened to them at the military camp:

“They took us into custody, separated the baby from my daughter, and questioned us. The cops brought my daughter to a maternity hospital, then later gave the baby back to us.” 

Speaking about the gruff manner in which they were treated, Dr. Hubbard went on to say, “They didn’t care.” At one point, Ukrainian officials offered Aislinn the option of leaving the country — without her son. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen.

After some pleading with the camp administrator, the family was eventually allowed to leave.

Dr. Hubbard getting to know his new grandson. Image courtesy of WCBV TV.

Making It Out on Their Own

Realizing they were not going to get any help from either the governments of the US or Ukraine, the family did the only thing they could do and began hiking through the mountains towards Slovakia.
They trekked several miles, braving rugged terrain and near-freezing temperatures until safely crossing the border to freedom.