Dr. William Hubbard, a doctor from Fitchburg, Ma., was forced to travel to Ukraine on his own to rescue his daughter and grandson from war-torn Ukraine, after the European country’s government was moving too slow to help them.
Speaking with Boston’s local WCVB News station, the Fitchburg doctor said he was somewhere in Slovakia and reunited with his family after having to take matters into his hands. His daughter, 19-year-old Aislinn Hubbard, her boyfriend, and his 8-month-old grandson, Seraphim, crossed the Carpathian Alps and hiked through the mountains for hours, before they were able to meet in Slovakia.
Dr. Hubbard’s daughter was studying ballet at the Kyiv Choreographic College since 2018, according to her father, and became trapped in Ukraine as the violence with Russia escalated. She had her baby, Seraphin, at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it became hard for the government to have his papers officially issued.
According to the Fitchburg family, the baby does not have a birth certificate or a passport, which made it increasingly difficult to cross the Ukrainian border legally and flee. Aislinn was in a hurry to leave, however, since she resides just 18 miles away from Kyiv, the country’s capitol.
Dr. William Hubbard and his wife, Deborah Hubbard, allegedly tried to work with the embassy for weeks to help arrange their safe return home. But dealing with the bureaucracy became frustrating as the war raged on.
“We were left with no other alternative than to devise a plan to get out of the country on our own,” Dr. Hubbard told local WCVB News. “The amazing thing… is that the Slovakian authorities were able to provide them with documents in a few hours that our government could provide for months and the Ukrainians were unwilling to provide.”
According to The Independent, Aislinn’s boyfriend (and Seraphim’s father), was unable to leave the country due to the Ukrainian government’s ban on all men aged 18-60 years old from leaving the country.
The Ukrainian government also initially detained them both and separated them from their baby after their thought they were human traffickers.
“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,” Dr. William Hubbard recalled.
“They didn’t care,” he said, slamming the U.S. government for their response. “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… I feel like our senators and our congressperson have abandoned us to our own demise.”
In response, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey said via a representative that they declined to give any more details on the family’s situation, but that they were in touch with the Hubbards.
The family now plans to drive across Europe to reach Portugal, hopeful that DNA tests proving that Seraphin is his grandson will help them throughout border checkpoints should more trouble arise.
“We will present ourselves to the American Embassy in Lisbon at that point, and there will be two new DNA tests one for the boyfriend and one for my daughter, and they should be able to get all the rest of the documents within the next three or four weeks,” he explained.
“We’re trapped in a bureaucratic blunder,” Deborah Hubbard stated. “It’s been an exhausting and harrowing experience for everyone.”