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Posted January 23, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Russians support Woodstock couple in adoption fight

By Kim Walter

Even though international coverage of the recent Russian law banning U.S. adoptions has dwindled over the last two weeks, Mil and Dianna Wallen continue to do anything they can to bring their would-be son "home."

When Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ban into law on Dec. 28, almost 50 previously court-approved adoptions were put on hold. The Russian court approval of the adoptions had to be followed by a 30-day waiting period, but that period wasn't over before the ban went into effect Jan. 1, leaving the children in legal limbo.

As of Tuesday, some of those children who were matched with American families were able to leave. However, that group did not include Maxim Kargapoltsev.

The Wallens, of Woodstock, decided to adopt the 14-year-old in November 2011, and they've learned since just how convoluted the process can be. After looking for a certified adoption agency in Maxim's area, they learned one didn't exist, so they turned to independent adoption.

Though the couple provided the required documents last March, they were turned away. Now, with the ban on independent adoptions and Putin's seemingly unwavering stance on the matter, the Wallens are starting to wonder what lies ahead.

Mil and his wife have participated in several conference calls for U.S. parents who are in a similar situation as them.

"As of this morning, Russia said that everybody in the process who have been approved will move forward with their adoptions," he said Wednesday. "But, we're still waiting for clarification on all the pending cases. There's about 900 of those, and we're one of them."

Maxim's story gained attention when a quote of his was taken out of context, and the media suggested that he had written a letter to Putin asking to come to America. While he didn't write the letter, Wallen said that, through the whole ordeal, Maxim's desire for the adoption has not.

On Maxim's Facebook page, he has posted a number of photos with the couple, and calls them his "mom" and "dad."

Shortly after Maxim's name became attached to the adoption issue, newspapers began to report that a member of the Russian government stepped in, wanting to be the boy's guardian.

Wallen said because of this, their "chances are dwindling" to have Maxim become their son, "unless something drastic happens soon."

On Jan. 18, U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, signed a letter to Putin requesting that the Russian Federation allow completion of pending adoptions. Goodlatte also signed a letter to President Obama asking that he make the issue a priority in the United States' bilateral relationship with Russia.

"I am deeply disturbed by President Putin's law banning U.S. adoptions," Goodlatte said in a release. "Over the past two decades American families have welcomed more than 60,000 Russian children into their homes.  By enacting this measure, the Russian government would choose to deprive these children of the promise of new lives, vast opportunities, and futures with loving families."

"For families who have gone through this painstaking adoption process, this is devastating news.  For the youngsters who saw the promise of a family and a better future, this law is a devastating blow," he continued. "I urge President Putin to look beyond politics to the children this ban affects and immediately allow adoptions already in process to proceed."

The Wallens maintain a relationship with Maxim, speaking to him multiple times a day. Mil Wallen said the boy is "doing better" the past few days, but "doesn't like all the stress and just wants everyone to get along."

In the meantime, the Wallen have received Facebook messages, tweets and emails from Russian people who support their hope to adopt Maxim. On Jan. 13, a protest of the ban was held in Russia, and Wallen said some people held signs specifically mentioning Maxim.

Dianna Wallen said the Russian people call the new adoption law "the law of scoundrels."

"Many of them wish us luck and tell us not to give up," her husband said.

If the worst is yet to come, and the adoption falls through, Wallen said Maxim plans to get some schooling and then come to the United States when he turns 18.

"Now reality is starting to set in, and our main goal is simply to get what's best for Maxim, even if that means he won't be here with us," he said. "My wife and I pray every day, and we've really been leaning on each other to get through it all ... at least we can still talk to Maxim."

The Wallens have two grown children -- 22 and 27 -- and Mil said they are both invested in the fight to bring Maxim to Woodstock.

"They've met him, and they love him too," Wallen said. "We're just going to continue to push forward."

Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or kwalter@nvdaily.com


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