Prospective parents heartbroken: Russia refuses to complete adoptions

Twenty adopted Russian children have died at the hands of their American parents.

This is the justification Russia gives for banning U.S. adoption of Russian-born children.

Russia’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and rule of law, Konstantin Dolgov, met with U.S. officials April 17 and 18 to discuss international adoption policy according to Turkish Weekly.

U.S. congressional sources say Russia refuses to complete adoptions that were in progress before the ban on Jan. 1.

“I feel so sorry for the families and the children this (law) affects,” said Tim Rouse, projects manager for the administration division at Guilford College, who adopted newborn Cassidy Jane from Florida this year.

“I can tell you from experience that, when you lose a placement that you really believed was going to happen, it can be devastating,” said Rouse. “For some, it is just as painful as having a miscarriage. It is heartbreaking. A better solution has to be out there.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ban in December in retaliation of the U.S. Magnitsky Act passed late last year, named after a Moscow lawyer who died in a Russian prison, according to National Journal. This law denies visas to Russians accused of human rights violations and freezes their assets in the U.S.

At least 700 American families have filed for adoption with the Russian government and are now waiting for the ban to end according to Jan Wondra, vice chair for Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption.

Of these families, an estimated 230 have already visited their prospective children and now worry whether they ever will again.

Time and money are another flaw in the long process of adoption.

“There’s a lot of money that changes hands in going to adopt,” said Christine Lawe who adopted her daughter Anya from China in an interview with the Guilfordian.

“Is it going directly to support that orphanage? Are people’s palms being greased?” said Lawe. “You do not know where your money is going to so there is something uncomfortable about that.”

Over 600,000 Russian children currently live outside the custody of their biological parents according to The New York Times. Although most live in foster homes, more than 130,000 live in Russia’s orphanage center, including many with mental and physical health problems.

“If you are going to adopt, you should adopt from wherever it’s needed most,” said Early College student Thomas Lawe, Anya’s brother. “(Adopt from a country) where orphanages are not a good place to be.”

After the ban, filmmaker Olga Loginova for Radio Free Europe visited her biological daughter’s adopted mother, Tina Traster, to make a documentary proving that successful Russian adoptions do exist, according to The Daily Beast.

“No one denies that 20 deaths of Russian-adopted children is a disturbing statistic,” wrote Traster in her Women in the World article for the Daily Beast. “Something is not right … I know this because I adopted a child from Russia and because I speak to other adoptive parents of Russian children all the time.”

Less than two months after this law took effect, three-year-old Mad Shatto, adopted from Russia, was found dead outside his Texas home.

Supporters of the ban claim Shatto was murdered by his adoptive mother, though Texas investigators determined his death was a self-inflicted accident, according to the New York Times.

Regardless, in the eyes of Russian President Putin, this is yet another case of an adopted Russian child dying on U.S. soil.

In the eyes of Russian foster children, however, it is slamming the door shut on the home and family they almost had.

“To me, adopted children are more than loved, they are chosen,” said Rouse. “The only other person that we get to choose to be a part of our family is our spouse. And to me, that makes the relationship all the more special.”