Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

FROM THE PUBLISHER >> Couple still fighting for Russian kids

By GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader publisher

The Jacksonville couple who couldn’t bring home the two Russian kids they had recently adopted will go back soon to fight for the right to fly their children to Arkansas.
Monica and David Kraus are hoping they’ll return soon to Russia and bring back the children, Emma, who is 3 years old, and Alex, who is 11 months. The couple adopted the children a few weeks ago, but then ran into a bureaucratic wall that they’re still fighting to tear down.

The Russians have stopped all foreign adoptions for the time being after two American women killed the Russian children they had adopted, apparently in fits of rage.

“We should be traveling the beginning of August to bring the children home,” Monica Kraus told us last week. “We are silently praying nothing else happens to delay the process.”

The Russians have passed new legislation to screen out undesirables who want to adopt children, but the Krauses insist they’re qualified people who will raise the kids right.
Because of the killings, the Russians want to do psychological testing of prospective parents and offer them parenting training.

“While there seems to be no thought given to halting all adoptions permanently, there is talk of requiring some sort of psychological evaluation of all prospective adoptive parents. There is also talk of investigating to see if the adoption was done legally according to Russian law. No one knows how long we will be delayed,” she said.

“We are not certain if new legislation regarding adoptions as a re-sult of this last case will affect us. It is definitely needed. If the death of even one child can be avoided, then it is beneficial,” Mrs. Kraus said.

The couple will appear at an administrative hearing, where they’ll hope to convince the authorities to let them bring home Emma and Alex, who both have their own rooms waiting for them in Jacksonville.

“We will not need a Russian attorney, only a translator at our hearing,” Mrs. Kraus says. “Once a judge finalizes our adoption and we receive our birth certificates and passports in Moscow, the adoption is official and recognized throughout the world. We may go through an American attorney when we return home in order to legalize the adoption according to United States law, but it is not necessary.”

In the meantime, the Russian media keep lashing out at foreign adoptions.

“It’s not the first time this has happened,” Mrs. Kraus says, referring to this latest freeze on foreign adoptions, “and it is more of a result of anti-American sentiment in the Russian media than anything else. We are not alone in this as there are hundreds of other expecting parents across the United States who are facing this same crisis.” 

“The Russia media have been all up in arms and have been pushing for the end of international adoptions,” she continued.

She said the children need good, loving homes, where they can eat right and get a good education. She knows there will be an “adjustment period, especially for the toddler. Although they adjust quickly and thrive with a loving family, they are far behind American children in developmental and learning ability.”

“In an orphanage, they do not receive one-on-one attention like they would in a family.
“There are also significant health concerns with malnutrition and different ailments related to poor living conditions. Almost all of the children are anemic and far behind their normal growth rate. However, parents who have adopted from Russia confirm that the children catch up quickly, often surpassing their peers.

“Our next step is to wait. It’s the hardest step of all. We are involved in a support group with similar couples to help us through the waiting process.

“We can only pray that nothing happens to further inflame an already sensitive situation.”