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Russia's adoption ban misguided

We adopted two Russian children, a 7-month-old girl in 1998 and three years later a 10-month-old boy. In addition, we have an older biological daughter. We chose Russia because we wanted to adopt an infant who shared our European heritage. The adoption process was long and challenging, and there were many times where it was difficult to maintain the commitment needed to work through all the paperwork, background checks, visits with social workers, medical evaluations and inspections of our home. In both cases, the adoption process took approximately nine months.

On more than one occasion, people would comment that our children were so lucky to be brought to America. We quickly explained that we were the lucky ones to have these wonderful children, born across the world and eventually winding up in our home. They give us so much joy, purpose and fulfillment that we have no doubt that they were meant to be part of our family. Our adopted children have enormous pride and respect for both their Russian heritage and their American upbringing.

We have a special perspective on the love shared between parent and child. Since we have both a biological child and two adopted ones, we know that the love we feel is the same for all three. Our older daughter loves being the big sister to her siblings, and our children's grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins love them for who they are with no regard for blood relationships.

We believe our adopted children have benefited from having us as their adopted parents and would not have achieved their full potential had they remained in the orphanage. We saw firsthand how loving the caretakers were at the orphanage, but there was only so much they could do with so many children to care for.

The recent Russian law stopping American parents from adopting Russian children is misguided. We understand that there have been abuses of adopted Russian children by American parents, but these incidents are very rare. The lengthy process American potential parents go through provides many more safeguards than children born into families biologically. In addition to the procedures in place prior to the adoption, we were required to follow up with a social worker for three years.

Children are every country's most precious resource. There are potentially 5,000 loving American families waiting to embrace a Russian child this year alone. We hope President Vladimir Putin and Russian lawmakers will reconsider this unfortunate law. Please don't penalize those children and families over political disputes that do not involve them at all.

Our children are well adjusted, educated and loving members of society. Isn't that what we should want for all children?

Lynn Van Natta and Mark Van Natta (mvnatta@jhsph.edu) live in Cockeysville.

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