STRONGSVILLE, Ohio - Local families and adoption agencies are devastated by Russian President Vladimir Putin's move to ban Americans from adopting Russian children.
"It's really wrong because you're just limiting the children and all of the opportunities they could get," said 16-year-old Alex Boyd from Strongsville who was adopted from Russia at 7 months old.
Putin signed an anti-US adoptions bill Friday in response to a U.S. law targeting Russians deemed to be human rights violators.
UNICEF estimates there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia while about 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt a child.
"It really does make the children into the victims here," said Andy Dobrin, divisional director of the Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau's adoption and foster care unit located in Shaker Heights.
It's unclear when the law would take effect, but a Russian presidential spokesman was quoted as saying all adoptions would stop Jan. 1.
The U.S. is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children, many of whom are orphans.
"They've been institutionalized for years. Many of them are special needs children who are not likely to ever be adopted," said Dobrin who added that if U.S. families are prohibited from adopting in Russia, those families would likely work with more adoption-friendly countries like China and Ethiopia.
"It's hard to hear that. It's hard to swallow," said Natalie Boyd, mother of Alex Boyd and 13-year-old Elena, who was also adopted from Russia when she was 7 months old.
The Boyd family is saddened to know that kids are caught in the middle of a political firestorm.
"It doesn't seem like they're solving the real problem," said Jeff Boyd, father of Alex and Elena.