Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando couple hoping to adopt Russian child despite bill threatening American adoptions

BROOKSVILLE — Cindy Boyer and her husband, Dennis, already call the toddler in Russia their daughter.

They met the almost 2-year-old earlier this month on an eight-day trip to her orphanage. They love everything about her.

The way she lets out a gut-roaring laugh whenever she sees a spoon. How she crawls around inspecting things. Even the times she cries when forced to put on a snowsuit.

"She was our baby from the first time we saw her," Cindy Boyer said Thursday from her home in Brooksville.

Adopting Adalyn was always going to be difficult, complex and financially daunting for the Boyers.

Now it might be impossible.

Russian lawmakers this week sent President Vladimir Putin a bill that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children. Putin said he plans to sign it.

The bill is in response to the Magnitsky Act, a law signed by President Barack Obama earlier this month that will bar Russian citizens accused of violating human rights from traveling to the United States and from owning real estate or other assets.

The Obama administration had opposed the Magnitsky legislation, fearing diplomatic retaliation, but members of Congress wanted to press Russia over human rights abuses.

U.S. officials have criticized the adoption ban and have urged the Russian government not to entangle orphaned children in politics.

The reaction has been fierce among adoption experts and prospective parents who say Russian orphans will suffer.

"It's sad that these kids are going to fall victim to really senseless politics," said Lauren Koch, a spokeswoman with the National Council for Adoptions.

• • •

The Boyers have wanted to adopt for years.

They've seen friends adopt. They've helped others through the process. Dennis and his brother and sisters are adopted.

They have eight kids, ages 33 to 16. Cindy has had nine miscarriages and is no longer able to have children.

So she turned her attention to adoption. She started looking at pictures and the desire grew.

"You just couldn't get it out of your head," Cindy said.

She was browsing through profiles of children with no families earlier this year when she stumbled upon Adalyn.

Only a year and a half at the time, Adalyn had short hair, dark eyes and a bilateral cleft lip, gum and palate.

That stopped her scrolling. She stared.

"You just see that one and it's yours," she said. "You just know."

The Boyers have had three children born with similar birth defects. One of their sons, Alex, was born with a cleft lip. Austin had a cleft gum. Addison had a bilateral cleft lip, gum and palate. They all got the surgery they needed.

The Boyers want to get Adalyn home to have her own surgery.

• • •

It's not clear whether Cindy, 55, and Dennis, 59, will be able to carry out their adoption.

They've already spent $22,000, all of it donated. They estimate it will cost them up to $45,000. Dennis is an assistant funeral home director. Cindy is a homemaker.

They also have invested many hours and a lot emotionally.

The adoption has meant trips to Tallahassee, filling out endless paperwork, getting marriage certificates, birth certificates, passports, background checks, fingerprints and home inspections.

They are choosing to stay upbeat, confident their faith will guide them to Adalyn.

"It's going to happen," Cindy said.

The ban is set to take effect Tuesday, and some senior officials in Moscow said they expected it to block the departure of 46 children whose adoptions by U.S. parents were nearly completed. Adoption agency officials in the United States said they expect the number of families immediately affected to be far larger — up to 250 who have identified a child to adopt.

"Right now it's really hard to speak to what's going to happen to any of these children," said Koch.

She said a bilateral agreement regulating American adoptions of Russians that was signed in November says the countries will give each other a year to transition if there were efforts to ban adoptions. She hopes Russia will honor that agreement.

"The crime here is that orphans are being used as pawns," said Susan Hedberg, the executive director with Celebrate Children International in Oviedo.

• • •

The Boyers say they are going to keep preparing to welcome their daughter into their home. They will fill out more paperwork. They are planning to get her the surgery she needs.

And they will keep praying.

"We try to not take on a spirit of fear," Cindy said.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report, which includes information from the New York Times. Danny Valentine can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1432. Tweet him @HernandoTimes.

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