Friday, September 3, 2010

CNY parents want to bring son home
Melissa and Eric Littlejohn, of King Ferry
By Daniel Bernardi, staff writer

Tue, Jun 15, 2010
With Mother’s Day just passing and Father’s Day upon us, now is when most parents spend more time in the company of their children. But for Melissa and Eric Littlejohn of King Ferry, the only way they see their child is through pictures placed throughout their home.

The Littlejohns are among 65 American and Canadian families awaiting the arrival of their adopted children from Kyrgyzstan - the only family from Central New York.

The Littlejohns began the adoption process in 2008, but reached a roadblock when former Prime Minister Igor Chudinov called a moratorium on adoptions in February 2009, citing fraud and abuses of the system by government officials, orphanages and adoption service providers. Further, an overthrow of the Kyrgyz government and president in early April 2010 has added to the delay in resuming adoptions.

The two years have been especially painful for the Littlejohns, considering they were matched with their child more than two years ago.

“In early May 2008, we received a picture of an adorable baby boy who we had been matched with for adoption from Kyrgyzstan,” Melissa Littlejohn said. “It was love at first sight.”
For the Littlejohns, they compared the feeling of seeing the picture of the child to the moment first time expectant parents are able to view their baby on an ultrasound machine. The Littlejohns tried numerous fertility treatments to no avail, and accepted the fact that their first child would come through adoption.

“We had a peace about this because we knew there were so many children who don’t have parents who can take care of them and we are willing and eager to stand in the gap to be those parents to a child who needs a family,” she said.

They chose to adopt internationally and were attracted to adopting from Kyrgyzstan, because there were children available for adoption at a young age and the process from start to finish was typically under one year.

As the adoption process reached the final steps, the moratorium halted the procedure, leaving the Littlejohns in a state of worry and confusion.

“Right now, none of us know where we stand because the people have overthrown the government,” she said. “There is now no president and no parliament. We don’t know if our paperwork is safe. We’ve heard that the children are OK, but we don’t know if any of the paperwork was lost when buildings were burnt down by the protesting and government overthrow.”

The greatest concern is the physical and mental well-being of the Kyrgyzstan children.
“These kids are stuck in limbo and are suffering because the orphanages in Kyrgyzstan are overcrowded and they can’t get the individualized care that they need,” she said. “We are here and ready.”

The US State Department is aware of the cases and has told the families that the issue is of high priority, but as each day passes, their worry grows.

“Although we are all frustrated and at wits' end because nothing is in our control, our children are the victims here and it is a tragedy that these precious children are continuing to wait, year after year,” she said. “Every day they are forced to wait, is a day too long. They need a family now. We want what’s best for the children we now love who are stuck in ‘limbo’ and we are not able to turn our backs on them.”

The Littlejohns acknowledge the political unrest in Kyrgyzstan and hope order can be restored and the adoption cases resume.

“We support the Kyrgyz interim government’s goal of restoring human rights in Kyrgyzstan,” she said. “We believe that resolving our pending cases would be a step in the right direction and a great opportunity for Kyrgyzstan to show their commitment to restoring those rights.”
The country is currently trying to recover under an interim leader and a transitional government.

Kyrgyz leader Roza Otunbayeva acknowledged the 65 families eagerly awaiting their adopted children on Facebook.

Otunbayeva’s post read:
“To the 65 families that are waiting to adopt their children - thank you for your emails of support. We are working on the resolution of your cases to the best of our ability. We understand your concerns, but please be patient, your families will be reunited.”

As each day passes, the Littlejohns lose precious bonding time with their child.

“When a child is little, those first few years of life are so important for bonding and it kind of sets the mark for how you are going to relate to other people when you grow up,” Littlejohn said. “It gives you a sense of security to know that you are loved by your mom and your dad and these kids are not getting that.”