Russian orphans in Colorado react to President Vladimir Putin banning American adoptions

Northern Colorado family just finalized adoption

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -  

On Friday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill banning American adoption of Russian orphans.

The new law is widely believed to be in response to a U.S. law calling for sanctions against Russians who have violated human rights.

"It is 100 percent a political move. I do not hesitate in saying that, and I was on conference calls this afternoon with the State Department," said Jan Wondra, the National Chairwoman of Families For Russian and Ukrainian Adoption. "There are anywhere from 500 to 1,000 orphan children and the families waiting to adopt them that are affected by this."

In the last 20 years, Americans have adopted 60,000 Russian orphans.

"For them to shut it down, it seems like it’s just really an offense on the children," Neil from Northern Colorado.

"It’s really using kids as a pawn in a political system," said his wife, Dana.

Neil and Dana, who don't want their last name used, just returned from Russia over Thanksgiving, where they adopted Kyla, a three-year-old orphan. She suffers from Phocomelia, a rare disorder that affected the development of her arms.

'We would love for the Russian government to reconsider and see that the world is willing to love and care for these children with special needs," said Neil.

"Adoption saved my life. I will say that. 100 percent, it saved my life," said Sasha Hunt.

Hunt is 23 years old and lives in Fort Collins. She lived in a Russian orphanage from the age of seven until she turned 10. A family from Texas adopted her and her younger sister from Russia 12 years ago.

"A lady had come into our bedroom and told us, 'Sasha, pack your bags,' and I just automatically thought, 'Well, I did something really bad so I'm going to get sent into a worse orphanage,' so I was freaking out," said Hunt. "I was basically told, 'This is your new mommy and daddy.'"

7NEWS asked Hunt about her experience in the Orphanage. She said if she wasn't adopted by the age of 16, she would have been kicked out.

"It means that whenever I would have turned 16, I would have been thrown out on the street and I would have gone straight to prostitution. By the time I was 18, I would have either committed suicide or would have given birth to a child and placed him back into the orphanage system," said Hunt. "If I was a young man, I would have no job skills. I would be disrespected in society."

She showed 7NEWS textbooks she took from the orphanage when she left. Some had notes she had written inside.

"It's the property of the government, and so I stole them and I brought them here because they were the only thing that I had," said Hunt. "I could rely on three meals a day and things like that, but it was definitely not something I would want for any child because it is an institution."

Hunt said she never felt happier than when Americans came by the orphanage.

"I remember having the first Americans come into our orphanage and how things just instantaneously got better. Instantly. Instantly, we got shoes. They're the ones that bring extra gifts, extra shoes, extra hats (and) extra food," said Hunt.

She wants the Russian leadership to know, just because she's adopted in America, does not mean she has forgotten her Russian roots.

"We're very proud of being Americans and we're very proud of being Russians," said Hunt.

 

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