The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 18, 2014

Russia's ban on adoptions by Americans holds firm

(Continued)

Garrett Boehm, a Chicago attorney who has been a leader of the families' lobbying efforts, remains passionate in his criticism of the ban, but he and his wife have initiated efforts to adopt a child from Poland in hopes of providing a sibling for Aleksander, a 7-year-old son they adopted from Russia in 2007.

They had hoped to adopt a Russian orphan named Anna who has just turned 2, but the ban thwarted their plans, and they are unsure whether the girl remains in her Siberian orphanage.

"My son asks, 'When is Anna coming home?'" Boehm said. "We're faced with how to answer that, and it's not a very satisfactory answer. He asks, 'Why did I get to leave and she can't?'"

Gerson, the New York rabbi, hasn't ruled out trying to adopt from somewhere other than Russia, but she finds it hard to cut emotional ties with the little girl she met in St. Petersburg in December 2012 — a trip she embarked on even as the proposed ban was moving through Russia's parliament.

Gerson, who is single and of Russian descent, said the girl, whom she planned to call Olivia, was 18 months old.

"When she came into the room at the baby home with a caretaker, I pulled a toy out of my bag, and she climbed into my lap and never left," Gerson recalled. "I knew from that moment that she was my daughter."

After spending mornings and afternoons with the girl for three more days, Gerson flew back from Moscow to New York on Dec 28. On arrival, she learned that Putin had signed the ban.

In May, Gerson received a letter from Russia advising that the pending adoption had been officially vacated.

"I was told we were no longer connected," Gerson said. "It was as if I disappeared into thin air."

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