MONTGOMERY, Ala. - An American couple knew adopting four orphans at once from Ukraine would be stressful.
But it wasn't until the bullets started flying and homemade bombs exploded outside the apartment where they were staying in the capital of the eastern European country that David and Lisa Bundy discovered just how stressful it could be.
Last week, the Bundys, of Montgomery, Alabama, were staying in an apartment in Kyiv about a half-mile (kilometre) from Independence Square, the centre of violent protests. They listened to gunfire and explosions, and the children played games and tried to sleep as bullets whizzed by their balcony.
"It was a constant boom, boom, boom," said David Bundy in an interview at the couple's Montgomery home on Monday, a day after he returned with three of the children. "It was three or four explosions every 10 seconds."
The couple had planned to return home together after the last of the four adoptions, that of 16-year-old Nastia, was finalized, but decided it would be best if David Bundy headed home early with the others to escape the violence.
He arrived in Montgomery on Sunday night with 14-year-old Karina; 11-year-old Max; and 9-year-old Alla. Lisa Bundy remained behind in Ukraine with Nastia, moving to a safer area on the outskirts of Kyiv to wait for her adoption to become final, hopefully on March 3.
Bundy, a 47-year-old freelance photographer, and Lisa Bundy, 40, an emergency room physician, began looking at adoption after not having any children of their own. They first looked at domestic adoptions, but got dismayed by the paperwork and long wait.
In the summer of 2013, the couple volunteered with Bridges of Faith, a program that brings orphans from Ukraine to Alabama for a month of cultural enrichment. Through the program, they met Nastia and made plans to adopt her. Later, they met Karina and her siblings and decided their home could handle four children.
"Something felt very right about them being with us," Bundy said.
Bundy said adopting from Ukraine can be challenging as it requires working with lawyers and courts outside of the U.S. The couple arrived in Kyiv on Nov. 22 and rented an apartment near Independence Square because it is where restaurants, shops and government agencies are located.
Bundy said the protests in the square began about a week before they arrived, but they didn't think anything about them because they were peaceful at first but later turned violent as demonstrators clashed with police.
Despite the violence, government agencies and courts stayed open, and the Bundys were able to complete three of the adoptions. Nastia's was held up by paperwork problems and a judge's illness, David Bundy said.
David Bundy, who has worked as a photographer for newspapers in Mississippi and Alabama and done freelance work for The Associated Press, ventured out occasionally to take pictures of the violence. On Friday, the whole family went to Independence Square to see the burned buildings and torched cars. They inadvertently walked into the memorial service for a slain protester.
"I wanted to have something sort of as a historical record for our family," he said. "It is not just Ukrainian history. It's our family's history."
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