Mechanicsburg family upset with Russian adoption ban

The news that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill banning all adoptions to the United States upset the Knepper family of Mechanicsburg. Roger and Mardell have five sons, two are brothers they adopted from Russia.

“[Adoption] is a very emotional time as well as a long process,” said Mardell Knepper.

The Kneppers adopted their son's Dimitri and Alex nine years ago. They say Putin is using children as political pawns.

“It is sad,” said Mardell Knepper. “It is very disappointing because the children are the ones that will be hurt.”

“I think Putin is finding out that he may have gone a step too far,” said Roger Knepper. “Even people in Russia are protesting his decision.”

Dr. Carol Alvers, president of Adopt Abroad Inc. in Harrisburg, has been involved in international adoptions for several years. She says this is not the first time a ban on adoptions was put in place.

“Unfortunately we've had this sort of situation in the past,” said Dr. Alvers. “Several times, Russia has closed down adoptions for a variety of reasons.”

Dr. Alvers says there are about 100 thousand children in Russian orphanages waiting to be adopted, and the older and longer they stay there the less likely they will be adopted.

The ban also includes people who are already in the process of an adoption.

“Usually the State Department will help intervene to get the cases that are in process to closure, but quiet often it takes a few years,” said Dr. Alvers. ” But, the way this came about they will be stuck in limbo or not come to completion unfortunately.”

According to Adopt Abroad Inc., more than 900 Russian children were adopted by American families last year.

“I hope that Putin realizes he can save face by rescinding this,” said Roger Knepper.

Mardell Knepper says the Russian people still have time to make things right.

“I would just encourage Putin and the people in Russia to stand up and say its not right,” said Mardell Knepper.

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