Russia has moved forward on a controversial measure banning adoption of Russian children by U.S. families.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the bill Friday, which means U.S. families who were in the process of adopting Russian children have now had those adoptions frozen.
Russia is the third most popular country where Americans adopt children.
U.S. State Department figures show Americans adopted close to 1,000 Russian children last year.
A Rexburg family adopted a little girl from Russia years ago.
They said they’re saddened for the families and children caught in the middle of this new legislation, but they’re thankful and lucky to have been able to add a new member to their family.
If you were to ask the Barnhills, they’d tell you adding 10-year-old Aly to their family was always meant to be.
“We already had 9 children, but we felt like someone was missing still and we felt like there was something we could do to make a difference in a life,” said Kathy Barnhill, adoptive mother. “So, we checked into adoption and everything just fell into place.”
David and Kathy Barnhill adopted Aly from Nakhodka, Russia nine years ago when she was just a year old.
The process, they said, only took about a year to complete before Aly was at her new home with her new family in north Rexburg.
“This place is nice, it’s big, it’s warm. I’ve got a huge bed,” said Aly. “I’m one of the most spoiled people… I guess I’m the most spoiled in my family.”
Even though Aly grew up in the U.S., she said she’s proud of her heritage and would like to go back and visit someday.
Kathy said as an adoptive mother, she feels for all of the families and children struggling for closure with Russia’s new adoption ban.
“I think about how hard must be for those families that have already been over there,” said Kathy. “These are their children that they’re waiting to go get and you know, it just kind of makes it seem like it would be hopeless if that were the case.”
Americans have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children since the fall of the Soviet Union.
10-year old Aly said she hopes her story inspires others to think about adoption.