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An adoptive parent's perspective on Russia's adoption ban

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Dec. 25, 2012)

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Dec. 25, 2012) (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Bad parenting move No. 999: We were sitting on my bed when I told my 10-year-old son that Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the rest of the Russian lawmakers to ban adoption of Russian children by Americans as of Jan. 1.

His eyes teared up as he said, "You mean they can come get me?" It took me a nanosecond to tell him no one can ever take away him away from me or his happy home.

You see, my son was adopted three years ago, at the age of 7, from a Russian orphanage -- young enough to suffer the effects of institutional living and old enough to remember that bewildering time. I tell him often that he is safe with me, that I am his mother forever, that this is his home. And I thought he had understood that, but again I learned that I can never be absolutely sure, because he once had a mother he did lose and the aftereffects were devastating.


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In the four months from when he was told I was going to adopt him, until I finally conquered the massive paperwork and cost, I would call him once a week at the orphanage to reassure him I was coming for him. Through a translator I hired, he would tell me his fears: "Are airplanes scary? What if I can't learn English?" I would reassure him and, eventually, he took comfort in my voice.

My heart breaks for all the children who won't get adopted, but especially for those who are already calling their prospective adoptive parents "mama" and "papa" and anxiously awaiting their arrival. Now, their hearts will be broken once again, and more promises left unkept.

UPDATE: The New York Times reported lrecently that Americans in the final stages of adopting children from Russia, those who were already approved by the Russian courts, will be allowed to finalize the adoption despite the ban that made law Jan. 1 by the Russian government.
 

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. (Dec. 27, 2012)
 

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