Wednesday, August 10, 2005

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Russians keep couple from adopting kids

David and Monica Kraus of Jacksonville thought they had adopted a couple of Russian children and would fly them home after spending thousands of dollars and dealing for months with bureaucrats here and in Russia.

But a few weeks ago, the Russian authorities suddenly announced that foreigners could no longer adopt orphans there.

The Russians had their reasons: At least two American women — one in Chicago and another out East — had murdered their adopted Russian children.

Not only did the Russian government stop all foreign adoptions, but the media there accused Americans of killing Russian children for their organs.

“We have an empty crib, untouched toys, new clothes that will soon be too small — all for two precious children we were days away from bringing home from Russia,” says Monica Kraus.

The children, Emma, who is 3 years old, and Alex, who is 11 months, may never make it to America, but the couple keeps fighting to get them here, even if it means selling their house to finance the adoptions, which could cost $50,000 if the Russians allow them to go through.

“They’re our children,” Mrs. Kraus insists.

A year ago, the Krauses paid an adoption agency in Memphis $15,000 to help them find a child in Russia after the couple gave up trying to adopt one in this country.

“We decided to pursue an international adoption in August 2004,” Mrs. Kraus says. “The paperwork process, home study and related background checks take six to nine months. We received a referral for an available 10-month-old baby boy in May. At that time we were also informed of a 3-year-old little girl.”

The couple flew to Moscow and then to the Saratov region a couple of hours from the capital. The orphanage is in Volsk, which meant a two-hour drive.

“When we traveled we were not intending to adopt two children. We desired two children, but the financial cost was out of our reach. While in Russia, we met the little girl and decided to do whatever it took to bring her home.

“We are selling our home in order to significantly downsize and have the funds for the adoption. The cost per child is approximately $25,000. This includes the adoption fee, related document processing, travel, translators, drivers, and gifts.”

She says Russian orphanages already have safeguards to protect the children from getting placed in dangerous families.

“When you adopt in Russia you receive one referral for a child and you travel to see that specific child,” Mrs. Kraus explains. “In order to not exploit the children, they do not let people simply walk through an orphanage and choose a child. If for some reason you do not wish to adopt the child who was referred, they will attempt to find another referral while you are there, or you travel back to the States and wait.”

For a while it appeared the Krauses would come home with Emma and Alex.

“We were days away from getting our invitation to pick up our two children, who we had met six weeks ago in Russia,” Mrs. Kraus says.

“We decided to do a blind adoption, traveling to meet the children without photos or video. We did not want to choose a child by what our eyes perceived. We wanted God to choose our children. Even with a natural birth you are never guaranteed on the health or physical appearance of your child.”

She hopes publicizing the couple’s plight might pressure the Russians to let them adopt the children.

“Parents like ourselves could really use a boost in the media,” Mrs. Kraus says. “Can someone please write about those of us who do not kill our children? Can someone please state the incredible high statistics for healthy children adopted from Russia? Can someone please counter the current slander in Moscow and show how many children die in orphanages or from abuse and neglect in Russia each year — or throughout the world?

“This is a global problem and it’s tragic. Those of us caught in the middle are helpless and could use someone on our side. One woman, one child. Yes, it’s incomprehensible, but what about the hundreds of thousands of other wonderful, loving parents providing healthy homes for these children at costs of thousands of dollars? Please help.”

(Next: Dealing with red tape.)