Russian ban on U.S. adoption worries local couple

Published 11:00 pm Friday, December 28, 2012

In the wake of the signing of a bill by Russian President Vladimir Putin that bars Americans from adopting Russian children, Christopher and Laura Wade of Troy remain hopeful that their adoption of a three-year-old Russian boy, whose condition is medically urgent, will go through and he will be in the United States by late January or early February. Donations to help bring Ivan home may be made to

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill Friday that bars Americans from adopting Russian children. The law goes into effect on New Year’s Day and puts a “snag” in the adoption process to bring a Troy couple’s “son” home.

A snag.

That’s all that Christopher and Laura Wade hope and believe that Russia’s ban on United States adoptions will mean for them and their “son” Ivan. And, their hearts go out to others who want to adopt Russian children.

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The Wades returned Dec. 23 from a four-day visit with Ivan at a Russian orphanage and with high hopes that the three-year-old little boy with big, warm eyes would be “at home” in Troy by the end of January.

“While we were in Russia, we heard that the State Duma had adopted the bill but our facilitator told us not to worry because we were already in the process and our adoption should be grandfathered in,” Wade said. “We are believing that the process will be completed and Ivan will come home.”

Ivan has Apert Syndrome and is in urgent need of a surgery that will open his scull and allow his brain room to grow. He also has cleft palate and mitten hands that will require surgeries to give him fingers.

“Because Ivan’s condition is considered medically urgent, that gives us even more hope that his adoption will go through,” Wade said.

Even before the Wades traveled to Russia to see Ivan for the first time, he was already “our little boy.”

“From the moment we saw Ivan on a friend’s video, he has been in our hearts,” Wade said. “Now that we have held him in our arms, he will forever be ours. Nothing can change that.”

Wade said Ivan seemed a little “bewildered” during their first visit.

“He was in an area of the orphanage where he had never been and he had never seen us before so that was understandable,” she said. “But, on the second visit, he played and giggled. ‘Papa’ and ‘mama’ are the same in Russian and, when I said ‘Where’s papa?’ Ivan looked right at Christopher. He has an amazing mind.”

The Wades communicated with Ivan through a translator but Ivan doesn’t talk.

“That’s more of an institutional thing than a physical one,” Wade said. “Ivan is the oldest child in his nursery and none of the children talk. But, in time, he will talk.”

The Wades visited with Ivan twice a day and, after the third visit, he would run to them with open arms and would wave goodbye to them each time they left him.

Wade said the Russian judge, who interviewed her and her husband, invited them to come back to Russia as soon as possible to complete the adoption.

“We know we must hurry,” Wade said.

The Wades were in Birmingham Friday to complete the INS paperwork that will allow them to bring Ivan into the United States if their adoption is not stymied by the ban.

Their paperwork, which included a home study and financial information, had to be reviewed and they had to be fingerprinted in order to be cleared to bring Ivan home.

“When we get the okay, we want to be ready to go,” Wade said. “With the ban, everything is up in the air but we are hopeful, not only for us but for the pending adoptions of 46 children.”

For the Wades, time is precious because their “son” has medical issues that are urgent.

“We need him here as soon as possible,” Wade said. “It will take $20,000 to go get him and bring him home. Last week, we needed $20,000. Friday, we needed $12,000. God is blessing us as we work to raise the money to bring Ivan home.”

As the Wades were leaving the orphanage on Sunday, they looked back and Ivan was waving goodbye to them.

“Christopher and I had told Ivan that we would come back and get him and he would never have to wave goodbye again,” Wade said. “As long as I have breath in me, I will never break that promise to him.”

According to U.S. State Department figures, Americans adopted nearly 1,000 Russian children last year. Over the past 20 years, 60,000 Russians have been adopted by Americans. Behind China, Russia is the most popular country for U.S. citizens to adopt.

The bill that Putin signed on Friday is viewed as retaliation for a law signed by President Barack Obama that imposes U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia.