Orphan begs Putin to let him live in US

Jan 12, 2013, 08:30 IST | Agencies

The would-be adoptive father of the 14-year-old Russian said he remained hopeful Moscow would let him start a new life in America despite the diplomatic row between the two countries

A row has erupted after a Russian orphan wrote to Vladimir Putin begging him to allow his adoption by an American family — a move barred by a controversial new Kremlin law.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
No to USA: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial law banning US citizens from adopting Russian orphans. File pic

The plea from Maxim Kargapoltsev (14), apparently highlighted how dozens of Russian children have had their hopes of a new life in the US crushed by new legislation which has turned them into ‘political footballs’.

Mil Wallen and his wife Dianna, Maxim’s to-be adoptive parents, are in daily touch with Maxim via Facebook and Skype and spoke with him five times on Thursday alone.

“He’s excited, and probably a little overwhelmed” by the attention that has suddenly fallen upon him, said Wallen, who owns a construction company in a town near Washington.

Wallen confirmed that Maxim had been asked, when an official delegation visited his orphanage in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk this week with TV cameras in tow, if he had a message for the Russian leader.

“He said, ‘I would like Putin to allow me to go to America’,” Wallen said, adding that — contrary to some Russian media reports — “there never was a letter that was written” by the teenager to the president.

The Wallens — who applied in November 2011 to adopt Maxim, whom they already knew for many years through a long relationship with his orphanage, are also unaware of any debilitating genetic disease that he reportedly suffers.

“He is small for his age,” Wallen said. “He has something that has caused him not to grow like the others — but other than that, he appears to be a very healthy boy.”
Maxim’s plea from Children’s Home No 13 in hardscrabble Chelyabinsk came two weeks after Putin signed into law a bill banning all US adoptions.

The measure was given fast-track approval — and almost no parliamentary debate — in reprisal for new US legislation that targets alleged Russian human rights abusers.

But the law has stirred controversy among many Russians. On Sunday, up to 20,000 people are expected to come out on the streets of central Moscow to protest the measure.

“We’re hoping that, number one, the people who were in line for getting their kids home (for adoption in the United States) are allowed to continue,” Wallen said.

“And we are hoping they (the Russian authorities) will allow us to continue independently with the adoption of Max — and we are hoping this opens the eyes of the Russians to see that these kids need families.”

Russia to allow some orphans to be adopted in US
Russian children whose adoptions have already been approved by courts will go to the United States despite a blanket ban on all American adoptions, a Kremlin spokesman said on Friday. “Those who have received a court decision will go,” said President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “Those who do not have a decision will not go.” He declined to provide any details but Russian officials say that 52 children had been in the process of being adopted by US parents when the hugely controversial ban on US adoptions entered force on January 1. A handful of those cases are believed to have received a court decision. Russia adopted the law in reprisal for new US legislation that targets Russian officials who have allegedly committed rights abuses. Kremlin children’s rights envoy Pavel Astakhov said citing a preliminary figure that 52 children were at various stages of the process of being adopted by Americans. “This is all very individual. Every child is in a different situation, at a different stage,” he said. 

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