Reporting Jessica Kartalija
CARROLL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — A controversial agenda for the United States’ new chief diplomat. Secretary of State John Kerry started his first foreign trip Monday in London meeting with the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary to discuss hot button issues like Syria and Iran. Next up is a meeting Tuesday with the Russian foreign minister. The two are expected to concentrate on the emotional issue of the Russian ban on American adoptions.
Imagine meeting the child you want to adopt, building a relationship and then being told you can’t be together. That’s what thousands of American families trying to adopt children from Russia are dealing with.
Jessica Kartalija shares the story of a Maryland couple caught in the middle of a political tug of war.
For Matt and Julie, waiting is excruciating.
“I sit there and I pray to God every day that he’ll let us bring them home,” Julie said.
In September, the Carroll County couple left their farm, flying to Russia where they spent days getting to know two 10-year-old girls they desperately hope to adopt.
“After the first meeting, we knew they were for us,” Matt said.
WJZ has blurred the girls’ faces since Matt and Julie are still waiting to see if Russia lifts a ban on American adoptions. The government suddenly announced it this past December, leaving couples like Matt and Julie in limbo.
“They both deserve a loving home and that’s what we can provide,” said Matt.
Many believe this adoption ban is in response to a recent American law calling for sanctions against Russians who commit human rights violations.
Ruth Wedgwood is on the state department’s advisory committee on international law.
“It’s particularly cruel to have international adoption become the captive of other issues in the American-Russian relationship,” Wedgwood said. “I would take this as a private sector issue, which should not be held hostage.”
Americans and even Russians are protesting the ban, concerned for the more than half a million orphans waiting for homes. When Russia first opened its doors to American adoption back in the 1990s, couples flooded the country, adopting more than 60,000 Russian children.
Judy Williams is with an international agency specializing in Eastern European adoptions. She’s working with more than 20 families with adoptions up in the air.
“It shouldn’t be a privilege to have a family who loves you that you grow up with. It shouldn’t be a privilege; it should be a right of every kid to have a family,” Williams said.
Matt and Julie write letters to the girls and decorate a bedroom they pray they will use.
“Everything in here was made for them,” Julie said.
With their court date in Russia on hold, Matt and Julie vow to wait forever if they have to.
“God brought us to these girls and He’ll bring them home,” Julie said.
Right now, Russia is only allowing adoptions already approved by Russian courts. Julie and Matt were just days away from that approval when the ban took effect.