Russian president Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that bans adoptions by Americans. Critics say the ban is in retaliation for a new U.S. law imposing sanctions on Russians deemed to be human rights violators.
Julia Rowlee, 18, of Sunnyvale was adopted from a Russian orphanage when she was 6 years old. She remembers the poor living conditions. “Our bedding was crammed, we had eight beds in one room,” she recalled.
When Rowlee learned of the adoption ban she said she cried. “Now their hopes are crushed, their dreams are set back and they are forced to look at the world in a different way than if they had an American family opportunity,” she said.
Her father, Mark Rowlee, says he can’t imagine the heartbreak parents longing to adopt must feel, all because of politics. “It’s unfortunate kids are being used as a pawn in a political situation. They should have settled this in a different fashion,” he said.
During the past 10 years, Bay Area Adoption Services has helped 200 families adopt children from Russia. Executive Director Andrea Stawitcke is appalled by the ban. “I’m heartbroken for the kids who are stuck, the children who have no chance. I’m angry this ban was made with a political motive when clearly this ban has absolutely nothing to do with adoption,” she said. “We are being told that anyone directly in the process will be told, ‘too bad,’ and will not be able to complete their adoption and that includes families who are in Russia right now and even have their court papers.”
Rowlee says she is most concerned about the children in Russia who have already met their prospective parents and now won’t be able to return home to the U.S. with them. She is saddened to know they won’t have the same opportunity she now has to have a promising future.
“If I were in Russia, I wouldn’t have a future,” said Rowlee.