Augusta families with Russian children hope for end to adoption ban

Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 2:31 PM
Last updated Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013 2:09 AM
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Tears well up in her eyes as Kathy West looks at photos of a Russian orphanage where her adopted son lived for 18 months.

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Kathy West holds her son, Matthew, 5, who was adopted from Moscow in July 2010. West said she worries about other Russian orphans who might not be adopted.  JON-MICHAEL SULLIVAN/STAFF
Kathy West holds her son, Matthew, 5, who was adopted from Moscow in July 2010. West said she worries about other Russian orphans who might not be adopted.

Matthew West, 5, now has loving parents, two sisters and a home with a large yard in Evans. What happened to two of his friends from the Moscow orphanage – seen in photos, clinging to Matthew and playing outside – is uncertain.

Were they adopted? Does hope remain they will ever leave the orphanage?

These are troubling questions for West, especially after a Russian ban on adoptions of Russian children by families in the U.S.

Browsing through photos on her laptop from the day she and her husband picked up Matthew in 2010, she remembered other children who were left behind.

“I prayed they got a home,” West said. “There were just so many of them.”

According to The Associated Press, a Kremlin spokesman said Thursday that the full ban, signed into law Dec. 28, cannot go into effect until 2014 because of a previous agreement between the two nations that requires 12 months’ notice before withdrawing. Adoptions already cleared by Russian courts will be allowed.

About 50 Russian children were preparing to join new families in the U.S. when the ban was passed, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many of them already had a court order allowing them to leave.

G.J. West, Matthew’s adoptive father, said he hopes the ban is temporary. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin is making a political statement and eventually will lift the ban.

“It’s just so hard to have little children suffer because of political games,” he said.

The United Nations estimates 740,000 children are not in parental custody in Russia, while 18,000 Russians are waiting to adopt a child, The Associated Press reports.

The ban is thought to be part of a harsh response to a recent U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be violating human rights. In early December, Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, named for Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who exposed a $230 million tax fraud.

Evidence showed Magnitsky was denied medical treatment, tortured and died in jail in 2009. The law places financial and visa sanctions on officials connected to his arrest, imprisonment and death.

Russian lawmakers also said the ban was an effort to protect Russian children from possible mistreatment by U.S. families. In 2010, an incident involving a mother who sent her adopted Russian son back on a plane with a note saying he was misbehaving caught the attention of high-ranking officials.

Since 1992, more than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by U.S. parents, according to the U.S. State Department.

David and Pat Dekle, of Martinez, adopted a 2-year-old boy named Judson, now 10, from St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2004. Like G.J. West, David Dekle said he trusts the U.S. government will make a move to reverse the ban.

“You have to feel bad for the children who are not going to have the opportunity to be brought into a loving home and are basically being sentenced to life without a family,” Dekle said.

Playing politics with children is cruel and unjustified, he said, before recalling the orphanage caretakers who urgently wanted children to find homes. The caretakers must be at least as frustrated as the U.S. families, Dekle said.

Kathy West said adopting Matthew was an easy and smooth process, something that more families won’t experience. Matthew – a blond, brown-eyed boy full of energy for playing football, riding bikes and aggravating his sisters – immediately called his adoptive parents Mama and Daddy after arriving in the U.S.

“It breaks my heart to know those families will not get their son or daughter because of politics,” she said.

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oldredneckman96 01/12/13 - 07:22 pm

Thousands of children wait adoption here in the US, Why go overseas to do so? If we adopt out all our children first then we should alow overseas adoptions.

TrukinRanger 01/13/13 - 09:17 am
I watched about 60% of the

I watched about 60% of the youtube video and had to turn it off. Though I agree that families in the U.S. should search for children in our own country to adopt before going overseas- I cannot believe that the typical couple looking to adopt have any bad intentions when looking overseas. If you sit there and wait for local or international organizations to take care of these children then you can expect them to stay in orphanages until they're old enough to be kicked out onto the street and told to "go survive". I understand there are some people/organizations that are shady and are looking at international adoptions for the wrong reasons but those should be investigated case-by-case. Anyone looking to adopt should be applauded. This WORLD has too many abandoned and neglected children and anyone wanting to take even one of them into their home should be applauded.

bubbasauce 01/13/13 - 11:12 am
That's right, there are

That's right, there are thousands of kids here in the states that await a good family to adopt them. Let their own countries take care of them.

nnaugusta 01/13/13 - 01:39 pm
bubbasauce, I agree 100%.

bubbasauce, I agree 100%. There are kids right here in Augusta that needs a home. I am curious, is there an incentive for adopting out of our own country? As in, monthly or lump sum payments?

InChristLove 01/13/13 - 03:47 pm
After being curious myself

After being curious myself and doing some research all indication is that the reason people seek to adopt children from foreign countries does have to do with money but not like you think. People in the US adopt children from foreign countries because it is cheaper, faster, and less red tape to have to deal with in our government.

soapy_725 01/13/13 - 06:46 pm
Do we have orphanages in America? Anymore?

Never hear that phrase much? Church organization used to fund these with "home missions". What happened? Catholic orphanages? Methodist orphanages? Baptist, one local church has set up an overseas adoption business? Black Orphanages? Shiloh Orphanage comes to mind? Surely these church homes would not be cost prohibitive? One denomination in Cleveland TN used to have an orphanage. It was unique in that the orphanage legally adopted each and every child. These children were raised and nurtured by the free will offering of the membership. These children had a permanent home and the love of many parents. They were not shipped around. Many went on to college and Bible ministry.

soapy_725 01/13/13 - 07:10 pm
Church of God Home for Children

Sevierville TN

Myrtle Turtle
Myrtle Turtle 01/14/13 - 12:20 am
Russian orphan adoptions

InChristLove, you are very close to correct except one thing. The fault is not with the adoptive parents; but with the greedy American Adoption system. There is quite a lucretive system going on in the US with Foster Parenting. They make is so difficult to adopt an American child. I know many would like to adopt; but by the time this backward, out of date, inefficient system in the US would work; the adoptive parents would be ready for a nursing home. Hundreds of childless couples want children; it is a sad day when they must go overseas where the other countries WANT to allow these children to have a home. @Kuncice, I was raised in Germany and find it Very difficult to understand your reasoning. Don't know when you were adopted but I know what it was like back then. Have a friend who came over as early teen and she is very happy and grateful to be American now. Some foreign adoptions allow the children to make the decision at 18 as to which nationality they want...perhaps you could make that choice to go back to Germany. Check it out.

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