American Couple Barely Escapes with Last Adopted Crimean Orphan

American Couple Barely Escapes with Last Adopted Crimean Orphan

Businesses were affected when Russia annexed Crimea, but there was one business not mentioned: Adoption agencies. On December 28, 2012, Russia banned Americans from adopting Russian orphans. This means adoptions between Crimeans and Americans are now disrupted. However, ABC News talked to the couple who managed to be the last lucky ones to adopt a child from Crimea.

Kristine and James Proctor from Michigan met Yanna in December, then 15-years-old, and immediately fell in love with her. She even changed her name to Melissa. They barely made it out of Crimea with their 16-year-old daughter Melissa before Russia officially annexed the peninsula from Ukraine. From ABC News:

As the overnight train pulled up to Crimea’s new border with Ukraine, Kristine Proctor held her breath. Armed soldiers outside the window peered inside.

“Are there any foreigners?” they asked the conductor. He pointed at Proctor and her companions: the girl she was adopting from a Crimean orphanage and Inna, the Ukrainian woman who was helping them escape.

“Two Americans,” the conductor replied. The soldiers didn’t ask any more questions and moved on. Eventually the train continued on its way to Kiev, Ukraine’s capital.

It was not their first roadblock. A few weeks before the March 16 referendum, a Ukrainian judge delayed the adoption because of wording in the documents. James had to return, but Kristine stayed behind to finish the adoption. They finally approved the adoption the day after the referendum and even though it was not official, Crimea started to make the changes. Inna, the Ukrainian woman who was helping the Proctors, found one official who provided Melissa with a tax identification number. The four of them were able to buy tickets to Kyiv.

But in Kyiv, the Proctors encountered more problems. The officials would not give Melissa a passport and told her to go back to Crimea. After a few days, Ukraine had to cave and provide Crimeans with passports. Melissa could finally go home to America.

Melissa received her passport and an American visa last week. They left Ukraine for the United States on Saturday afternoon. Melissa had never been more than a couple hours from her orphanage in Crimea.

“She’s very excited,” Proctor said. “She’s a very confident young lady. Very smart. I think she’ll really flourish.”

Once a child turns 16 they are released from the orphanage system.

Advocates say many more Crimeans orphans who were on the verge of being adopted by Americans are left behind. Even though the children there are still Ukrainian citizens for now, their cases have been halted and advocates say it is highly unlikely Russian authorities will allow their American adoptions to go through.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Melissa Proctor