SALT LAKE CITY — Many American families, including some in Utah, are anxiously waiting for a final word on their Russian adoptions.
Quinn and Whitney Stephens traveled to Russia a week ago, visiting the little girl they hope will become their daughter. They say adopting from Russia is a difficult and expensive process. Now they are experiencing a waiting period filled with anxiety and doubt.
Whitney Stephens cuddled with little Meg hoping that she will become part of their family. The little girl would be the first American adoption of a Down Syndrome child from that region of Russia.
"I felt the same as I had when I saw my other three children for the first time," Whitney said. "I immediately knew she was mine and I loved her just the same. She laughed and she hugged us and she kissed us and I think she felt a connection. If we're not allowed to get her, then she's going to live out her life in an institution."
But, the Stephens have ran into legal complications during their adoption process. Even Russian's have protested Parliament's passage of a bill forbidding Americans to adopt Russian children. President Vladimir Putin says he will sign the bill after reading it.
"If the Russian people could take care of the three-quarter of a million orphans that they have, if the fate wasn't institutions, we wouldn't be getting involved," Quinn said.
The Stephens say that the Russian bill hurts the children. The 18-month-old that they want to adopt has a mother and father who waved parental rights because she has Down Syndrome.
While they complete paperwork, medical exams, and passport applications which will take months, the Stephens and their three children, Emrie, Keaton and Libby, talk of Meg as if she is part of them. They feel that they have been guided to her.
"I don't know why we would have been led to this time and this child and this country if we were just going to be turned away, so I'm still hopeful," Whitney said.
If or when this bill becomes law, the Stephens are trying to figure out if they have any options. They can work through the State Department or Senator Hatch's office, but for now, they can only wait.