Mon December 31, 2012
Wisconsin Parents Caught Up In Russian Adoption Ruling
Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a law Friday outlawing the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. The move puts dozens of late-stage adoptions in limbo nationwide, including some here in Wisconsin.
The new law is part of a growing rift between the United States and Russia, and widely seen as retaliation for the U.S. passing a law cracking down on Russians who the U.S. considers human rights abusers. This international dispute has real consequences for families in Wisconsin.
Kim Westfahl is the inter-country adoption manager for Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. She says 10 families working with her agency are affected, including two that have already met their children.
"They traveled to Russia," she says. "They spent with time their children. They are part of their family. And they were supposed to go back in January or February to bring them home and now we don’t know what the fate of those families will be.”
Westfahl says Russian has been a consistent place for parents to adopt for years. Her agency has been working there for 15 years. But she says recently, the number of adoptions has dropped as the relationship between the U.S. and Russia has worsened. For those families whose adoptions are in limbo. Westfahl says they are trying to stay optimistic.
"They've been amazingly positive and just hoping for the best," she says. "I think its a faith-based process for a lot of families and they are just trying to have faith that the right thing is going to be done here."
Westfahl says other countries have closed their adoption programs before. But she says its always been over a child welfare issue. This is the first time, she says, that what appears to be politics is the driving force.