Saturday, August 13, 2011
Pam and Matt Bean keep a door shut on a room filled with baby clothes, baby shower gifts and a crib. It has been sitting unused in their Delta home since the winter of 2008, when they prepared it for the arrival of an adopted infant daughter.
That daughter, Takhmina, is now 3½, and the Delta couple continues to wait while two governments fail to come to terms on a process for adoptions. Instability in the government of Kyrgyzstan and a lack of action on the part of the U.S. State Department have held up adoptions for years, affecting the Beans as well as two other couples in Colorado and 62 around the country.
Their plight has received a hopeful jolt of attention with a letter from U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Bennet urges her to speed up negotiations with Kyrgyzstan to end the limbo that has forced children to grow up in orphanages while their prospective parents wait.
"We have been riding this roller coaster for so long. I think now we have a guarded hope," Pam Bean said.
Bennet's letter to Clinton stated that two orphans have died in Kyrgyz institutions while adoptions have been delayed. Other orphans have been suffering from a lack of funding and overcrowding.
He urged Clinton to send an emergency delegation to the Central Asian country that has been mired in civil unrest, assassinations and ethnic clashes.
The adoption process went off track in the fall of 2008 when the Kyrgyz government halted adoptions in response to allegations of corruption and illegal processing. Two Kyrgyz adoption coordinators were arrested.
New adoption regulations were passed in the Kyrgyzstan Parliament and signed into law in May, but the law came with a three-month delay before it would go into effect. The new law also did not address the issue of the pending adoptions.
The matter has taken on new urgency because an election is set for October in Kyrgyzstan. There is a chance the current government could be ousted and the new adoption process derailed.
The State Department issued an alert in early June saying the department is "reaching out" to the Kyrgyzstan government to move ahead with the adoptions "but at this time it is not possible for new intercountry adoption cases to move forward."
"What we don't have now is urgency on the part of the State Department," said Kelly Ensslin, an attorney representing 33 of the families with delayed adoptions.
While they wait, the Beans send vitamins and birthday presents to Takhmina. They have occasionally been able to communicate with her on Skype satellite calls.
In Longmont, Brian and Shelley Nelson and their two children wait for their "son" and "brother" Nikolai, who was scheduled to come to them when he was 10 months old. He turned 4 in May.
They have no plans to give up on Nikolai.
"It would be really hard to walk away from a child we've been connected to for so long," Shelley Nelson said.
Steve and Teresa Affleck of Fort Collins say the same about Jasmine, the orphan they were matched with and met when she was 9 months old. They left a pink blanket with her and a promise to come back to bring her home soon. She is 3 now.
Nancy Lofholm: 970-256-1957 or email@example.com
Read more: Colo. couples await breakthrough on adoptions from Kyrgyzstan - The Denver Post