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Russian adoption ban impacts local families

9:38 PM, Dec 27, 2012   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - An international feud between the United States and Russia is putting families who want to adopt in a very difficult position.  Russia's President Vladimir Putin says he plans to approve legislation that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children, as political retaliation for a recent U.S. law.

A Christmas card from a Tennessee family with their recently adopted Russian boy sits on the desk at Bethany Christian Services.  However, many questions remain for other families at the West Michigan adoption agency.

"They could be one of the last children to come from Russia to the United States," says William Blacquiere, President of Bethany Christian Services.

Blacquiere says about 25 local families would be impacted at the agency, if Russia bans American adoption.  He says six families are in the final stages of taking their child home, after at least a two year process.

"It's an extremely emotional issue," says Blacquiere. "The families feel like this is a loss of a child or the death of a child, if this doesn't happen."

"It's a heartbreaking process because we've already
started preparing our home," says Patrick Griffin, who was preparing to adopt a Russian child.

Bethany Christian Services says many families spend more than $40,000 on traveling to Russia and other adoption expenses.

"This has improved their (American families and Russian children) lives and it also has helped Russia whose child welfare system does need to be improved," says Blacquiere.

However, because of the uncertainty now, Blacquiere says he's discouraging new families from adopting Russian children.

"We would say to people 'Do not apply to Russia at this time', we will wait another week or two, or month to see what happens," says Blacquiere. 

The agency is also making a plea to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, to put the children's interest first.

Blacquiere hopes Putin honors an agreement with the United States. It would give the families in the middle of the adoption process another year before the ban takes effect.


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