Minnesota mom goes on Russian TV to challenge adoption ban


A Minnetrista, Minnesota, mother of a boy adopted in Russia in 2008 went on Russian television on the eve of the Sochi Olympic Games to challenge the nation's adoption ban, the Associated Press reports.

Renee Thomas has led a long, agonizing effort to win an exception to a 1-year-old Russian ban on adoptions of Russian children by Americans. She and her husband John have been trying to adopt her son's biological brother Nikolai from an orphanage in Kursk.

"A lot of this is just politics and we're just stuck in the middle," John told KARE 11 last year.

In an 11-minute segment Thursday on TV Dozhd (TV Rain), a popular independent station, Thomas made an emotional plea, weeping as she described her family's resolve to make the adoption happen, the AP reports.

"When we adopted Jack, they asked us to look after his best interest," Thomas said in the broadcast, in reference to her 8-year-old son Jack's resolve to be reunited with his 5-year-old brother.

The Thomases are among at least 330 families who had already begun adoptions of Russian children when the Jan. 1, 2013 ban promptly halted them, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Prior to the ban, about 1,000 Russian children were adopted annually by American families, the Times reported. An estimated 300,000 orphans languish in Russia, but key officials there have opposed their adoption into the homes of a former Cold War enemy, the newspaper reports.

ABC News had the story of Kristi and Rich England of Marshall, Minnesota, perhaps the last couple to make it out of Russia with an adopted child before the ban went into effect. They adopted a partially blind and hyperactive 3-year-old, Sonia, now called Sophia.

“So many other families have seen their children and have loved their children and can’t bring them home,” Kristi England, 34, a family doctor, told ABC. “It’s so unfair in so many ways.”

The ban has sparked vocal protests, even in Russia.

Among the U.S. politicians who have been leaning on Russian officials is Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. a year ago to push for a swift resolution to pending adoptions.

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