Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Local advocate fears effect of Russian adoption ban, says orphans there will be victims of decision


Lisa Wurster, shown here with adopted son Peter in 2004, adopted two sons from Russia. She is president of Sylvania-based Friends of Russian Orphans.

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Russia’s new ban of adoptions to American families could shatter the dreams of prospective adoptive parents in northwest Ohio.

Families with adoptions pending — who have met and bonded with the child — may now find themselves stuck in limbo, or worse, the adoptions could be canceled.

Lisa Wurster, president of the Sylvania-based, not-for-profit Friends of Russian Orphans, said adoption cancellations not only would hurt parents but also would leave more Russian orphans in institutions.

“It’s devastating,” she said. “It is just absolutely devastating for both the children and the parents.”

Ms. Wurster and her husband, Phillip, adopted two Russian orphans after they had two children of their own. They then started Friends of Russian Orphans.

Not an adoption agency, the corporation has two main missions.

It provides material help for children living in orphanages, paying for clothes, gymnasiums, equipment, and more. Its friendship program includes an initiative that brings orphans to the United States for summer visits. During the visits, children attend cultural events, day camps, and take part in other activities.

Many U.S. volunteers in the program decided to adopt Russian orphans after participating in the summer visits, Ms. Wurster said. Friends of Russian Orphans also organizes Russian volunteers to provide extra stimulation and development activity for babies in orphanages.

Although domestic adoptions in Russia have increased in recent years, many prospective parents are disinclined to adopt older children or those with disabilities, Ms. Wurster said.

Prohibiting adoptions by U.S. parents greatly limits options for those Russian orphans, she said.

“The number of children who remain institutionalized is huge,” she said.

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