News / Europe

American Families Visit Russia with Adopted Children

American Families Visit Russia with Adopted Childreni
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July 22, 2013
Last winter, passions were high over the Kremlin’s ban on American families adopting Russian children. James Brooke reports.

American Families Visit Russia with Adopted Children

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— Last winter, passions were high over the Kremlin’s ban on American families adopting Russian children. In the streets, demonstrators said they were ashamed that their government was hurting orphans to score a political point.
 
On the other side, President Vladimir Putin was angry at the United States over American human rights legislation. He said on national television: “There are plenty of countries with higher living standards than Russia. So what? Should we send our kids there?”
 
Summer has come to Moscow and the adoption ban is still in place. But human warmth is easing the chill.
 
In mid-July, 15 American families traveled to Russia along with their adopted children -- to connect with their birthplaces. The Americans blended in with tourists and wedding parties on Red Square.
 
Lauren Thompson came with her adopted son, Andrei. She said:  “If people understand we are Americans, not Russians - I have not found any hostility at all.”
    
“We have been thinking about this for a number of years,” she said about the ‘roots’ trip. “Andrei has always been interested in his Russian heritage.”
 
The American parents recalled that Russian adoption officials asked them to teach their children about their Russian origins.
 
But four Russian children adopted by Americans were denied Russian visas. Sarah Goth ran the tour for The Ties Program, an American company based in Wisconsin.
 
“We don’t understand why,” Goth said in Moscow. “And we could not appeal that decision in any way. It seemed to be random.”
 
People in Russia have been welcoming. She said:  “We have confirmed visits to all the hospitals, baby homes that the families want to visit.”
 
Some families met with birth mothers. Ally, aged 12, said she did not push for that.
 
“Well, I’ve been curious about my birth mom, I mean, any kid would, but I don’t really think about her that much,” she said.
 
For John, Ally's adoptive father, the trip back to Russia was about answering questions.
 
“We would like for her to see, to be able to ask questions, and to satisfy any curiosity and get closure on any issues that she may have now and going forward,” he said.
 
While the trips have been intensely personal, the Kremlin ban has loomed in the background.
 
Katherine, Ally's adoptive mother, said: “To think that anyone would stand in the way of a child having a family is incomprehensible to me.”

Stung by domestic and international criticism, the Kremlin has launched a program to encourage Russian parents to adopt Russian orphans.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
July 22, 2013 7:59 PM
To issue visas means for government to claim both receivers belong to native countries and visiting places do not belong to them. In Japan, government has been rejected to issue visas to some Japanese who want to visit Hoppou-ryoudo, small islands which have been occupied by Russia since WWII.

Regarding this international adoption, Russia looks like declined to lose its nationals due to a matter of honor, Russia is a big county which does not need any aids to its nationals especially from US, a rival in many cases. From the stand point of human rights, Hague treaty should be signed by all countires.


by: Rebecca from: Kaneohe Hawaii
July 22, 2013 4:37 PM
It's easy to answer why they were denied visas. Adoptive parents are required to keep the children's Russian passports updated until they are 18 and adopted children MUST travel on their Russian passports and not on American passports with visas. If they had flown with their original Russian passports (if they were kept up to date) they would have been allowed entry.

In Response

by: Linda from: Maryland
August 09, 2013 4:44 PM
I too paid a huge amount of money to have a visa placed on my daughter's U.S. passport, as did the other 3 families. This was an arbitrary decision that seemed completely rooted in the current tensions over U.S. adoptions. Again, punishing the children.

In Response

by: David from: Arizona
August 03, 2013 11:04 PM
We travelled to Russia and were nervous about our child traveling on a Russian passport, so we paid an exorbitant fee to the Russian government for a visa to use with our child's American passport. We encountered no difficulties.

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