As expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill today banning American couples from adopting Russian children, setting off reverberations in Washington, where the administration blamed "unrelated political considerations." What may be surprising is how quickly the ban is already affecting families across this country: heartbreaking mid-adoption stories have already emerged, from New York to Ohio to California, of would-be parents to many of the approximately 1,000 Russian children taken in by U.S. families each year.
In Montgomery, Ohio, a couple just two trips away from adopting a special-needs Russian boy now faces the possibility of never seeing him again. As the Mike Sweeney and Moscow native Natalia Zimina told The Cincinnati Enquirer, the new law is especially troubling because many Russian infants suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. The Russian adoption system also requires an unusually large investment of time and money: As one California adoption worker told the Mercury News, "Russian adoptions are probably — on a scale of zero to 10 — they're 9.5 in difficulty."
The effects of this legislation are cruel and malicious: Thousands of Russian babies and children who had a chance for a loving home and a better future will now be denied that opportunity.