LAKE ELSINORE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Parents United For Russian Orphans is having to mark the two-year anniversary of the ban on Russian adoptions by U.S. citizens this week.
Nine-year-old Natasha has lost two mothers in her short life. The first left her at birth because Natasha was born with Down syndrome. The second met her in 2012, but was forced to abandon her. Steven and Katrina Morriss of California cannot forget the little girl they held in their arms at a Russian orphanage. This month, the Morrisses and more than 30 other prospective adoptive parents mark the heartbreaking 2nd anniversary of the Russian Adoption Ban.
In December 2012, American adoptions of more than 1,000 Russian orphans were stopped by Russian Federation Law FZ-272. The ban was immediately understood to be political fallout from the Magnitsky Act, signed by President Obama two weeks earlier - although Russian officials later cited the abuse of Russian adoptees as the motivation for the ban.
In January 2013, Russian citizens flooded the streets of Moscow in peaceful protest of what they referred to as Herod’s Law. Stuart and Tanna Smith of Kansas hoped that the strong Russian backlash would help them return for an already-scheduled court date to be declared Lucy’s parents. Instead, Lucy is destined to grow up in an institution. There are also many other prospective parents like Britt and Jaime Vanchura of Michigan, that mourn their adoptive children they never met due to delayed travel.
Two years later, approximately 30 of the 300 children who had met parents prior to the ban remain institutionalized in Russia. Most of these children have significant disabilities and are almost certain to spend their entire lives without families.
According to the recent Human Rights Watch report, conditions in institutions for children with disabilities can be truly horrific. http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/15/russia-children-disabilities-face-violence-neglect Children are often isolated, tied to their cribs and fed barely enough to keep them alive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hH6Li7Dg4Bc
Morriss travelled to Moscow in January 2014 to try to find a loving Russian family to adopt Natasha and to work with Russian journalists. She is featured in the documentary “Children of the State,” by Olga Arlauskas and Nikita Tikhonov-Rau http://vimeo.com/108227844 which premiered this week in Moscow and will be playing around the world, including Rotterdam Film Festival (January), Berlinale (February), Cinema du reel Paris (March) MIPDOC in Cannes (April), Tribeca Film Festival New York (April), Hot Docs in Toronto (April) and Cannes Film Festival (May), to name just a few. Morriss is hopeful that this documentary will help her bring her daughter home to the U.S. and promote positive change for the other thousands of children stuck in orphanages. Organizations like http://www.downsideup.org are trying valiantly to help orphans in Russia.
The parents have tried every legal avenue to complete their adoptions, including traveling to Washington D.C. Others have sought Russian families for the children they love. A few are allowed to send presents and money for medical care. Most have no ability to find out how “their” children are doing.
Each night they pray that tomorrow they will finally be able to keep their promises to bring their children home. This cruel anniversary is not only about these parents and children separated by politics, it is also a reminder of the 100,000 other orphans in Russia who are cleared for adoption and desperately seeking families.
Political advocacy is critical to finding a humane resolution. If you would like to help, please contact your Senators and Representatives and remind them that this is a critical humanitarian issue that deserves their attention. Advocacy information and updates can be found at Parents United for Russian Orphans. https://www.facebook.com/parentsunitedforrussianorphans