The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

January 18, 2014

Russia's ban on adoptions by Americans holds firm

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Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., is the father of a 9-year-old boy adopted from Russia in 2006, and has met with both U.S. and Russian diplomats to make a case against the ban.

Blunt said he was particularly angry that Russia, with tens of thousands of orphans in need of families to raise them, had worked so quickly to find Russian homes for the children who had been in line to be adopted by Americans.

"In this circumstance, that's about as cruel as you could possibly be," Blunt said.

Another senator, Roger Wicker, R-Miss., helped win approval in June from the 57-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe for a resolution condemning "indiscriminate disruption of inter-country adoptions already in progress."

Last week, Wicker was among a group of senators who discussed international adoption with Secretary of State John Kerry. Wicker said he suggested that the Obama administration include on the U.S. delegation to the Sochi Olympics an American citizen who was born in Russia and raised in the U.S. by adoptive parents.

"It would make a statement that we want to raise the visibility of this issue," he said, evoking the prospect of the ban being discussed during telecasts of the opening ceremonies.

The State Department, which oversees some aspects of international adoption, held monthly conferences through July with families affected by the ban, then discontinued them for lack of new developments. However, department officials said they have continued to raise the issue with the Russians and are now planning one more outreach meeting with the U.S. families.

Developments related to the ban have been followed closely by some American parents who'd previously adopted children from Russia.

Among them is Tina Traster of Valley Cottage, N.Y., who is writing a book, "Rescuing Julia Twice," about the sometimes wrenching challenges that she and her husband faced after adopting an 8-month-old girl from a Siberian orphanage 11 years ago.

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