When Terry and Wendi Schuur adopted their daughter, Marina, from Russia in 2010, the process was long, emotional and fraught with bureaucratic roadblocks.
But that process is poised to become even more difficult, if not impossible, to navigate after a new Russian law that bars Americans from adopting children from the country.
Wendi Schuur, of Norman, said she and her husband chose to adopt Marina after they were unable to have children themselves. The two brought their daughter home in May 2010, after two years of paperwork and legal wrangling.
“It was a very long, emotional process,” Schuur said. “I would wake up every morning and go online to make sure the two countries were still getting along.”
Part of the reason for the frustration, she said, was a burdensome set of regulations in force in Russia, including a rule that requires that families make no fewer than three trips to the country before adopting.
Those regulations have led to a decline in interest among families in Oklahoma and elsewhere in adopting children from Russia, said Jennifer Lanter, a spokeswoman for Gladney Center for Adoption, a Fort Worth, Texas-based adoption agency. The agency works with Oklahoma families, including the Schuurs.
“Adoptions between Russia and the United States have been slowly decreasing over the last few years,” Lanter said. “It's honestly one of the more difficult countries to adopt from.”
The process now will be hampered by a new law barring Americans from adopting Russian children. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law Friday.
The ban is part of a harsh response to a U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be human rights violators.
Although some top Russian officials, including the country's foreign minister, openly opposed the bill, Putin signed it less than 24 hours after receiving it from Parliament, where it passed both houses overwhelmingly.
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It's so unfortunate that those children are being used as political pawns. It absolutely breaks my heart.”