The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 18, 2014

Russia's ban on adoptions by Americans holds firm

NEW YORK — A year after Russia imposed a ban on adoptions by Americans, some affected U.S. families are reluctantly looking elsewhere to adopt. Others refuse to abandon flickering hopes of uniting with the Russian children who won their hearts.

Thirty-three of the families have filed appeals with the European Court of Human Rights, contending that the ban violates the rights of the orphans whose adoptions were thwarted. But there's no tight time frame for the case, and even a favorable ruling might be unenforceable if Russia objects.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have spurned requests from U.S. officials to reconsider the ban, and the two governments have other volatile issues on their mutual agenda — including terrorism and various foreign policy differences — as the international community prepares for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, next month

"I don't see movement on the Russian side, and on the U.S. side we've heard nothing," said Diana Gerson, a New York City rabbi who had her heart set on adopting a Russian toddler. "I feel in many ways we were abandoned."

By the Russians' count, the ban halted the pending adoptions of 259 children. Roughly 230 U.S. families, some seeking to adopt more than one child, were affected — including scores of Americans who had bonded face-to-face with the children during visits to their orphanages.

The Americans have been dropped from Russia's official roster of prospective adoptive parents, and many of the orphans — possibly more than half — already have been placed with Russian families.

At Christmas, several dozen of the Americans signed an open letter to the children they had hoped to adopt. The letter, published by some Russian media outlets, expressed gratitude to the Russian families who had taken in some of the children, while also hinting at a whirl of other emotions.

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