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More than 250 American families are in diplomatic and emotional limbo after Russia's government said it would suspend all adoptions from the United States.
The announcement came a week after an adoptive mother in Tennessee sent a seven-year-old boy back to Russia alone, with a note saying he was "violent and has severe psychopathic issues."
Meredith and Chris Bell, of New Boston, N.H., are anxious to adopt three sisters from Russia, but Meredith says they have no idea if that can happen now:
"It's very frustrating. I mean part of the adoption process is you have to have the rooms all ready, you have to take pictures, so their rooms are set, there's clothes in their drawers. My son has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of his sisters. You know, we have pictures, we know their names. It's pretty somber right now at our house."
Adam Pertman, the executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute , joined WBUR Friday to talk about what the adoption freeze — and the questions it has raised — mean for hopeful parents in New England.
In Massachusetts, more families adopt children from Russia than from any other country. Pertman says that it's common for Russian children — or children from any other country — to have traumatic backgrounds.
"In the case of the Russian or other orphanage kids, they have lived in institutions. No child who goes through that kind of trauma escapes unscathed," Pertman said.
Pertman said that while parents need to take responsibility for a child's parenting needs, there is a systematic lack of support for adoptive parents.
"Very few people in our country get sufficient resources with which to help their kids," Pertman said.
Still, Pertman worries that the recent freeze will decrease the number of parents who try to adopt Russian children.
"The people who are suffering the most and will suffer the most if this freeze continues is those kids who stay in institutionalized care," Pertman said.
This program aired on April 16, 2010.
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