By Phil Corso
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.