Benes family reacts to Russian adoption issue

7:06 PM, Dec 27, 2012   |    comments
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By Alex Fees

ST. LOUIS (KSDK)- Local adoptive families are reacting to news out of Russia regarding the possibility that Americans will no longer be allowed to adopt Russian orphans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will sign a controversial bill banning Americans from adopting Russians.

Putin said U.S. authorities deny access to adopted Russian children and let Americans suspected of violence towards Russian adoptees go unpunished.

Critics say that the bill will deprive many Russian orphans of an opportunity to get a family.

Former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes and his wife Jennifer have four children of their own. They adopted two children from Siberia, Brock, 6, and Bliss, 3.

"Whether it's a political thing like this between the U.S. and Russia, ultimately it's kids that aren't being able to be adopted within the states," said Benes. "It's disappointing. So ultimately I think it just hurts kids. And there are so many families that are in the process of adopting right now and it could have a huge impact. Our Christian faith talks about taking care of orphans and widows, and those that are in need, but these two have blest our family far more than we blest them."

Jennifer Benes said, "Being over there several times you learn a little about the culture. And it's a retaliation thing they're doing, thinking they're hurting us when really it's hurting their children."

The Benes' are friends with Dr. Steve and Marie Ann D'Orazio, also adoptive parents. The D'Orazio's son, Jace, 3, may be one of the last Russian orphans to get out of the country. He's been safely on American soil for 12 days. They learned about the Russian adoption issue five days after they returned home.

"We really didn't have any idea," said Marie Ann. "All along you feel like you will be lucky if you're able to bring the child home because the relations between the U.S. and Russia have never been great. So like I said it's just a miracle that he is here. We're just so thankful that he was able to come."

The process of adopting from Russia is intense. Parents have to make more than one trip to the country as part of the process. In adopting Brock and Bliss, Andy Benes said he and his wife made five trips to Siberia.

Both the Benes' and the D'Orazio's adopted through Bethany Christian Services. National Director of Adoptions Kris Faasse said behind the scenes talks are continuing.

"We're relying on our federal authorities and the state department and USCIF to continue to negotiate and work with their counterparts in Russia," said Faasse. "It's very quiet. You're not hearing a lot about that. We can believe there's activity going on behind the scenes."

The Russian parliament has voted for the bill, which is part of a larger measure by lawmakers retaliating against a recently signed U.S. law calling for sanctions against Russians deemed guilty of human rights violations.

UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia.


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