Cedar Rapids Couple In Limbo After Russia Bans U.S. Adoptions

By Addison Speck, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Marissa Letscher and her husband are in adoption limbo. The Cedar Rapids couple has been inching closer to bringing home an almost 2-year-old Russian girl by the name of Alissa. But on Friday, that came to halt after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law that would ban U.S. families from adopting Russian children.

"We're devastated, we really are. It's been a really difficult 48 hours," Letscher said.

The decision is seen as retaliation against a new American law that sanctions Russian human rights abusers. But for those, like the Letscher's, expecting to give orphans a new, permanent home, they see the government using innocent children as political fodder.

"At first you feel like you have whiplash. It was stunning how quickly this got pushed through," she said.

The Letschers have been trying to start a family for years.

"After about a year of trying we were basically told that we were asking for a miracle and that to have our own children just wasn't going to be possible for us," she said.

For the couple, the natural next step was adoption. Marissa was adopted and several other of their family members were too. So in April, the couple put their name in to a local adoption agency. But after months of not receiving a phone call, the couple started looking around. That's when they found Alissa.

Alissa currently lives in a Russian orphanage but is available for adoption through an Ohio agency.

"When we saw her picture, we fell in love. We knew that she was for us and we were for her," Letscher said.

The couple knew that Alissa had some health needs but were confident they would be able to provide for her.

"We went to the agency and said, we know you are trying to place this little girl. We want her. We are not afraid of the special needs she comes with. We are fully prepared to handle those," she said.

Letscher said they started Alissa's adoption process in November, and things have moved pretty quickly. The couple had plans to make their first of 3 required trips to Russia next month, and they have already completed Alissa's bedroom in their home. But now they are left not knowing when or if Alissa will ever call Cedar Rapids home.

"The time-will-tell is probably the worst," Letscher said.

It's a complicated and uncertain situation for a family that wants to not only start a family but provide one. But after all the time, effort, and money the couple has put in to starting a family, the Letschers refuse to just give up.

"Just like you would do anything to bring your child home if they were stuck in some foreign country, we are going to do the same thing," she said.
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