Little Neck family embodies Russian adoption struggle

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (l.) holds one of the toys Little Neck couple Dania (c.) and Nick Mavros purchased for the 1-year-old Russian boy they hope to adopt. Photo by Phil Corso
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An international dispute involving a Russian ban on U.S. adoptions has hit home for one couple in Little Neck, and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge) pledged to help ensure they bring their new son home.

“We will get them to listen,” Israel promised Little Neck parents-to-be Nick and Dania Mavros Tuesday, when he called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to put an end to the ban on Russian adoptions on American citizens.

The Mavros family was in the process of adopting year-old blond-haired, blue-eyed Ari in December before being tossed into political limbo, courtesy of a disagreement between Russia and the United States.

“President Putin is jeopardizing the future for thousands of Russian orphans and their adoptive parents here in the U.S. over a political disagreement with the administra­tion,” Israel said. “The adoption process is difficult enough for any family without adding international politics to the mix. Children should never be used as political pawns, but in this case, that is exactly what’s happening.”

Putin signed the ban into law Dec. 28, a move that was seen as a retaliatory action in response to a new American law known as the Magnitsky Act, which limits Russians accused of human rights violations from entering the United States.

So for the Mavros family, who could have been celebrating the successful adoption of their beloved Ari, they instead have been at the mercy of a political dispute and have no choice but to hold onto the already-purchased toys awaiting the boy.

“Waiting for news to see if we will be allowed to bring our baby home has been one of the most trying times in our lives,” Dania Mavros said, while fighting back tears. “Devastating does not capture the emotional roller coaster that we are enduring every day.”

Israel said he would even go as far as proposing economic, military and commercial cuts to Russian aid coming out of the United States if no progress is made.

There are currently more than 700,000 orphans in Russia, according to the Russian Children’s Welfare Society. On average, Israel said 10 percent of all international adoptions by American families have taken place in Russia over the last five years, undertaking a process that takes 12 to 18 months and could cost anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000.

The Russian Supreme Court agreed to allow all adoptions approved before Jan. 1 to proceed, but the move still kept the Mavros family in limbo because they were still waiting for a court date to finalize the process.

The congressman joined nearly 50 colleagues earlier this month to craft a letter to Putin urging him to allow all families already in the adoption process to move forward.

“Putin, tear down this law,” Israel said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Posted 9:02 pm, January 31, 2013
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Reader feedback

Peter says:
I was adopted from a German orphanage by an American couple and applaud the ban prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian children. In this television interview, I describe international adoption from a unique perspective--that of a foreign orphan adopted to the United States--and harm caused by uprooting children from their native countries and cultures, the abandonment of US foster care children and money's corrupting influence on international adoption.

Peter Dodds
Feb. 3, 2013, 10:59 am
JeanetteJ from NYC says:
While it is thoughtful of Representative Israel to want to assist the Mavros' with their adoption a little boy from Russia, he (and the Mavros') appear to have forgotten that:
- Russia is a sovereign nation. As such, Americans are not entitled to adopt Russian children - it's a privilege that Russia can revoke at any time for any (or no or a petty, political) reason.
- Russia did not ban Americans from adopting for "no" or a "petty political" reason (though there are obviously political reasons for the ban too) that include but are by no means limited to: US violating the adoption treaty with Russia first (Maxim Babayev incident in late 2012), the "only" 19 Russian children dead at the hands of their American forever mommy or daddy, Reeces Rainbow/Rainbow Kids flagrantly and unapologetically violating Russian law by photolisting Russian kids and Russian adoptees who were/are horrifically abused but were not killed, eg Masha Allen (adopted and abused by pedophile Michael Mancuso, she was rescued after 5 yrs and then abused by her second adoptive famiky; CPS revoked parental rights both times) and Ksenia Anatova (abused in her first adoptive home and disrupted; her second adoptive American daddy sexually assaulted her and claimed it was "CONSENTUAL" because she was 16!!)
- a Russian adoption is not complete until 3 things have happened: pass court, complete mandatory 30 day post-court and a Russian judge issues an adoption decree. The Mavros' are 0 for 3. The boy they hope to adopt is legally their referral.
- being good parents on paper (like the Mavros') or in general (like many Russian PAPs with kids) does NOT entitle you to 1) someone else's kid or 2) a Russian kid.
- Russia has made significant strides in improving its child welfare system in recent years - domestic adoptions are up, kids in orphanages down, expanded foster care, etc. is reform happening fast enough? No, but neither is the reform of the foster care system here in the USA and nobody is suggesting WE let foreigners adopt our foster kids because reform is too slow. (Also, google the life out comes for aged-out Russian orphans and aged-out American foster kids -- the outcomes are equally grim. Literally).

If Rep Israel really, truly wants the ban lifted he would work towards the US 1) holds up its end of the Russian adoption treaty and 2) comes up with a better way to screen PAPs (the "only" 19 dead surely suggests there's room for improvement). Shutting down the ghastly unlicensed Ranch for Kids in Montana (too many adoptive parents exile their Russian kids there indefinitely) and the illegal photolistings as a gesture of goodwill too!!
Feb. 3, 2013, 12:56 pm

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