The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 18, 2014

Russia's ban on adoptions by Americans holds firm

(Continued)

Gerson, 39, is among the Americans who filed appeals with the European Court of Human Rights. Most of the appellants, including Gerson, said the children they sought to adopt suffer from serious medical conditions, and would benefit from specialized care in the U.S. that might be unavailable to them in Russian orphanages.

Yet Gerson acknowledges that the case may be a legal long-shot. As to how it might end, she said, "We have no idea."

When she last checked, Olivia was still in the baby home in St. Petersburg, yet the rabbi knows a placement with a Russian adoptive family could come at any time.

"She deserves a loving, permanent home," Gerson said. "If it can't be with me, it should be in a household, not an orphanage, though I'd grieve ... she'll be lost to me forever.

"What's hard is not knowing," Gerson added.

The adoption ban was intended in part as retaliation for a U.S. law imposing sanctions on Russians deemed to be human rights violators.

However, Russian authorities used debate on the bill to complain about mistreatment and lack of post-adoption oversight affecting Russian children adopted by Americans, including the high-profile 2010 case where an exasperated Tennessee mother sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Moscow on a plane alone. The bill was named after 21-month-old Dima Yakovlev, one of about 20 Russian adoptees who have died from abuse, neglect or other causes while in the care of their American parents.

Adoption advocates in the U.S. express regret for those deaths. Yet they contend that the vast majority of the 60,000 Russian children adopted by Americans over the past two decades — including many with physical or emotional disabilities — have found loving homes and a high standard of care.

While the Obama administration has been relatively quiet about the ban in recent months, some members of Congress continue to speak out.

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