By Attorney Howard Iken: By the same time you read this – I have arrived back home from a conference in Washington DC. This conference is all about the Russian adoption ban. For those of you that have not noticed the four month stream of news on Russian adoption – Russia enacted a ban on all adoptions from its orphanages by US citizens. Before the ban, many americans adopted children directly from “children’s homes”, the term for orphanage in Russia. These children were either taken away from unfit parents or voluntarily given up. In Russia the children begin in a “children’s home”, go to a “boarding school” at a certain age, and then go on to “trade school” when they are older. There are many of these children and most of them have very little chance of ever living in a loving home. For the past 1.5 years my spouse and I have worked extremely hard to bring a child home. After a grueling qualification process, documentation that would stress even a family law attorney, and thousands of hours of time we were on the cusp of bringing a child home. We worked toward our goal despite both being extremely busy in our careers. There were several delays when our attention turned to helping a family member in need. But little by little we got closer to our goal.
Finally the long-awaited photo of a orphaned child arrived in our email. We traveled around the world to a children’s home to visit with the child. It took 27 hours of travel. Finally, in late 2012, we traveled to Russia to attend court. One month later, in December 2012 we stood in a courtroom ready to receive the final decree of adoption. Many thousands of hours preceded that moment. It was finally ready to happen and all of our hard work and dreams were ready to be fulfilled. It was at that very moment the ban was introduced. The judge decided to postpose the remainder of our hearing. Since that time I have been on the steering committee of an organization representing hundreds of adoptive parents. We are lobbying the US government for help and are developing contacts abroad that may help us complete our adoptions. I am very grateful to have to the chance to work in a key position with a group of dedicated individuals guiding our effort. For the past several days we have met with Senators, foreign policy experts, and heads of key agencies involved in this issue. During the trip I received devastating news about a close family member. After insisting on coming home right away, my wife Maryanne felt it was essential I did not let everyone down. I stayed at the conference and participated until it was time to come home. I give my thanks to my wife for her strength during this ordeal. The accompanying photo shows the steering committee of our organization after a presentation at the National Press Club in Washington. During the past few weeks I made some very special friends and got to know some people with great inner strength. I will continue my efforts but the last several days have left me with an experience I will remember for a lifetime.