The co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., today sent letters to President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin urging both leaders to work together to allow adoptions of Russian children already in process to be completed. More than 70 members of Congress from both chambers joined Sen. Landrieu and Sen. Blunt, himself a parent of an adopted child from Russia, in signing the letters.
The U.S. State Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services estimate that there are between 350 to 500 active adoption cases involving Russian children already matched with American families prior to Russia's ban. Each year, American families open their hearts and homes to approximately 1,000 Russian children through adoption.
In the letter to President Putin, Sen. Landrieu and her colleagues wrote: "The U.S. families matched with these children already love them like their own and have invested a great deal of time and resources in pursuit of a final adoption. We appeal to you to look beyond politics and see the people this law most directly affects ... We ask you, as a father, to make the finalization of these cases a priority."
Russia's own Ministry of Science and Education estimates that 110,000 children in Russia live in institutions, many of whom have special needs that many orphanages cannot adequately address. Long-term institutionalization has been proven to lead to neurological and emotional difficulties in children.
Sen. Landrieu and other lawmakers also wrote to President Obama to request his assistance in engaging with Russia to find a solution. "This misguided Russian law victimizes thousands of vulnerable Russian children, who are now living in dismal conditions in Russian institutions, with little hope of a permanent family except through inter-country adoption," Sen. Landrieu and her colleagues wrote. "We must immediately find a way forward for the Russian orphans and American families who are caught in this political conundrum."