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Russia, US playing politics may only harm families, orphaned children

In this June 2008 photo courtesy of the D'Jamoos family, Alexander D'Jamoos, center, poses with his adoptive parents, Michael and Helene D'Jamoos, and his younger brother, Marc, while on a family vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Alexander, who was born with no legs, grew up in a Russian orphanage and was adopted after he came to a Texas hospital to have a prosthesis attached that enabled him to walk. He is angry over legislation pending in Moscow that would ban adoptions of Russian children by Americans. (AP Photo/Family photo, Sasha D'jamoos)

A political controversy is causing heartbreak for families ready to adopt orphans from Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he plans to sign a bill that would bar Americans from adopting children from his country.

The bill that’s waiting for Putin’s signature was designed as a way to retaliate against a new law here that targets corrupt Russian officials.

If Russia bans all American adoptions, it would crush the dreams of more than 1,500 families across the U.S.

“A number of families that are in the process of adopting from Russia is causing them a lot of emotional trauma and anxiety,” explained William Blacquire, CEO of Bethany Christian Services. For the family, stress comes from not knowing what’s going to happen.

Bethany Christian Services, has offices across the country and here in Washington. Blacquire says in some cases, parents have already gone to Russia three times to meet with their prospective child. They’ve set up their rooms, introduced them to their families through pictures and now, it could all be for nothing.

“The parents would feel like this is the death of a child,” says Blacquire. “If they cannot finalize the adoption and have the child, it’s like they’ve lost that child.”

Blacquire also says it would be devastating for the kids, many of whom are sick or disabled. They were looking forward to a new life with their new family.

“It causes that same trauma to the child,” he says. “The child is expecting to be adopted. They’ve met the parents. It’s a horrible situation.”

He says it’s also a financial investment. An average Russian adoption costs up to $60,000 because they have to travel there so much and are required to undergo training.

Currently, there are more than 650,000 children living in Russian orphanages, and Blacquire says they need to be placed in loving homes.

He’s calling on people to contact their Congressional delegates as well as the White House. to urge an intervention.

“If two powerful countries, like the United States and Russia have these disagreements and children are hurt and families are hurt — what does that say about us as global citizens?” asks Blacquire. “We should be thinking first, about what is the best interest of the child and not use that child in any way that would cause them harm.”

Russia’s bill to ban adoptions is named after a Russian born toddler who died of heat stroke after his American adoptive father left him in a sweltering car. His death and those of 19 other Russian kids in the hands of U.S. citizens the last decade helped drive support for the bill.

It was in response to a U.S. law that punishes Russians suspected of being involved in the death of an anti-graft lawyer in 2009 and of other human rights violations by barring them from entering the country.

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