Russian adoption ban hits close to home - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Russian adoption ban hits close to home

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For years, the United States has been the top destination for adopted Russian children. But Russian president Vladimir Putin says he will sign a bill to ban Americans from adopting orphans in his country. He said he sees no reasons why he shouldn't.

The bill is part of a larger measure by lawmakers to retaliate against a recently signed U.S. law calling for sanctions against Russians deemed guilty of human rights violations.

At stake are the cases of 46 children whose adoptions would be frozen if the bill becomes law. Instead, Putin says those children would receive priority to be adopted by Russian families.

American families who were preparing to welcome their newly adopted children home are instead bracing themselves for the possibility of never seeing them again.

Over 45,000 Russian children have been adopted by American families since 1999.

One family in Birmingham says adopting from Russia was a positive life changing experience. They hopes this ban doesn't come to pass.

Scott and Lynn Ortis recall their decision to adopt. They already had three boys, but wanted a girl.

Little did they know, they would soon have two new additions to their family.

"They fit in with us and we fit in with them, it was just meant to be," says Ortis. "I can't imagine our family without the girls."

Katie and Elle were born in Siberia, Russia. After 18 months of paperwork, red tape, and trips half-way across the world, the Ortis' were able to bring Katie and Elle home when they were two and a half-years-old
they are now five.

"I know their lives are better because they are here and because they've been adopted, but us five are so much better for having them with us," says Ortis.

Now, families like the Ortis' may not have the opportunity to adopt Russian children.
Russian president Vladimir Putin is expected to ban U.S. adoptions.

Russian officials, point to cases of 19 adopted children who have been killed in the United States.
They say it's evidence of mistreatment of Russian children by their adopted parents.

Anne Baldwin, with Villa Hope International Adoption services in Birmingham, works with 100 families across the state.

Baldwin connected the Ortis family with Katie and Elle. She says, there are more success stories than tragic ones.

"That is a small percentage compared to the thousands of children that have been adopted into families in the U.S. who are thriving. Who might have lived the rest of their lives in an orphanage or institutionalized setting and not living up to their full potential," says Baldwin.

Baldwin says right now, there's still lots of uncertainty with this potential ban.

"Honestly, it is unknown whether families, if they are 'in process' if they will be able to complete their adoption. That will be for Russia to decide," says Baldwin.

If anyone would like to learn more information on international adoptions, click here.

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