Russian adoption ban heart-breaking for American parents

Jeff Dutton with daughter Masha
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Something happened Friday half a world away that's breaking the hearts of some central Indiana families and others nationwide.

Russia's president signed a new law banning Americans from adopting orphaned Russian children.

It's a blow to an estimated 1,500 American families now in the process of adopting from Russia.

The news hits home for Jeff Dutton and his 10-year-old daughter Masha.

"I just feel very sorry for the parents in the middle of the process who've been over there and met the children and are now stuck and can't go back," he said.

Dutton and his wife adopted Masha eight years ago from a Russian orphanage.

"It was pretty straightforward when we did it," he said, noting it took 12 months and two trips to bring Masha home, a little girl the Duttons fell head over heels for.

Smiling at his daughter, he said, "Well, her mother would agree it was love at first sight."

Masha, just two and a half years old at the time, doesn't remember that day. Her first memory? "When I met my family for the first time, I went up to my uncle and did this," she said making a funny face.

Still, Masha knows enough about what's going on to feel bad for all those children on the verge of being adopted.

"They're really sad, probably. They probably want a chance at least. I don't know why they wouldn't get a chance," she said.

Michele Jackson has worked in international adoptions for 15 years.

"The impact of the ban is significant," she said.

Jackson estimates there are 2,000 to 4,000 families nationwide who are "going to be what we would call stuck."

Jackson is not entirely surprised at the changes. She said in recent years, Russian adoptions have become increasingly difficult and expensive, costing up to $40,000 for fees and travel.

She said the process has gone from one to two years with three to four trips before it's complete.

Jackson said a lot of prospective parents "have used some of their savings and retirement to go through the adoption process and it effects not only them but those surrounding them, grandparents and siblings. Emotionally they could all be devastated by the ban."

Why the ban? It's seen as retaliation for an American law that calls for sanctions against human rights abusers in Russia, something Dutton doesn't understand.

"When we were there, our experience was there were plenty of children waiting to be adopted," he said. "So you just hate to see politics get in the way of the well-being of children."

It's hoped that people now in the process of adopting Russian children will be allowed to continue that process after January 1st, but there's no word on that yet.