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Josh Brahm: Let’s talk about this Russia thing. A few months ago, Russia basically banned Americans from adopting Russian children. And this now — in fact, you said that you know someone who is being really affected by this. So real quick, if you could kind of explain what’s going on there and also tell us about your friend just to give us a personal idea of how this can impact people.
Laurel Boylan: Well, sure. Currently, the — President Putin got angry and came out with some public statements that were very, very strong, basically saying that not only is he stopping adoption, but that he would not allow those families who had already traveled and met a child or already gone to court to finalize the process to bring them home. A lot has happened since that news article hit. The State Department has been very active in daily trying to work out an amenable solution.
At the moment, we don’t have anything in writing, but the agencies are being told that anybody who has gone to court may be allowed to finish their adoption as long as it finishes by January 2014 because of the treaty that was signed last summer between the two countries. We’ve been told unofficially that anyone who has already met their child may be allowed in the next few months to go back to court and finalize their adoption.
But until we see something in writing from the State Department, I’m encouraging any family in that situation to not book a ticket. You need to have support and make sure that once you get over there, you’re really going to be allowed to bring the child home.
Josh Brahm: This affects a lot of people. I mean, I’ve read there’s around 1,000 kids from Russia that have been adopted by Americans in just 2010. So I’m kind of curious from both of you…what was your reaction when you heard this? Is this just a frustrating — why are we bringing politics and has this affected kids? Just kind of give me your reactions to this.
Laurel Boylan: My personal reaction? Oh, I was just livid. I was so livid — like yelling and screaming, and then I fell into sadness and literally was crying because I have a family friend who was supposed to be traveling the very next week to bring her — you know, to go to court, and that was their second trip. And they had their little boy’s stocking on their mantle. They have five other children. They had already been bonding with Sergei. They hadn’t actually met him yet — the family had met him, the mom and dad, just not the children.
And so it hit really personally to them and to me and it was hard.
Stephanie Grant: It’s heart-wrenching. As Laura was talking about this family who has a stocking, ready to bring him home for Christmas, and I just think of our waiting families and just the process our adoptive families — they are very vulnerable, a lot of hoops they have to jump through. And I’m thinking — just with the international and the extra hoops of the different countries and things that — and to think of this particular family at that waiting stage, they had already met the child and they are anticipating bringing him back the next week. Really, it’s just very sad to think that politics can — this child that was so excited to finally have some permanency, and now, you know, languishing in an orphanage, most likely.
Josh Brahm: If there’s a pregnant teen listening — or maybe if someone knows of a teen who is pregnant and maybe she’s not yet sure what she wants to do, maybe she’s thinking about adoption — although a lot of people don’t end up choose adoption, I think, sadly. And so, does that person — does she need to basically decide “I’m definitely going to do adoption before contacting an adoption agency” or what would you advise that girl to do?
Stephanie Grant: Absolutely not. She does not need to be sure. I think a lot of times, people think that and so they don’t contact our agency. We work with women that are in crisis with an unexpected pregnancy. And so when they make a plan to parent, we connect them to resources. Pregnancy Care Center is a great resource we often connect our young moms to. And then, you know, we just help them figure out pros and cons, what’s parenting going to look like, what’s adoption going to look like — and help them make the best decision they can make and then just support them in that. So it’s not only about adoption, absolutely not.