For the McKay Lodge family of Oberlin, Ohio, the current suspension of some Russian adoptions is more than just a bureaucratic snag. It's a suspension of their hopes and dreams that leaves the entire family - and their prospective adoptive son who waits in a Russian orphanage - in a very difficult state of emotional limbo.
"The paperwork is in Russia. Our application has been formally accepted," explains Gina McKay Lodge. "We had anticipated going to pick him up in June."
But now the process is delayed, and the McKay Lodges will probably have to wait until October before completing the adoption. Neither do they know how much the eight-year-old boy they're hoping will become their son understands the hitch in plans. "It may only be six months," says Ms. McKay Lodge. "But for a child his age that could seem forever."
It is hard to estimate how many American families are in a similar situation with stalled Russian adoptions, although some say the number could be in the hundreds. What makes the process more confusing, though - and more painful - is that in certain regions of Russia, adoptions by US citizens are proceeding normally. For some families, the inconsistency of the new regulations just adds to the frustration.
In chat rooms set up on the Internet by adoption agencies, some prospective parents have been sharing both information and consolation in recent months. "All we can do is pray," wrote one would-be adoptive mother, halfway through the process.
"The uncertainty of it all is definitely the hardest part," wrote another. "If I can dry my tears, I will check back to see what anyone else has to say," added a third who lamented that her child was waiting in Ekaterinburg.
For the McKay Lodges, this was to be a second Russian adoption. When the couple went to Russia last year to adopt a seven-month-old baby girl, they met young Pavel, then seven, and were immediately taken by what Ms. McKay Lodge describes as his "calm, intelligent" manner, and a sense that he was "very kind-hearted."
Although they hadn't originally planned on adopting an older child, they began proceedings to adopt Pavel as soon as they returned home. The last adoption took five months; this one is likely to take as much as a year and a half.
But Pavel's would-be adoptive mother says she still hopes the current impasse will resolve itself. Although she has heard nothing from the orphanage, her US adoption agency says there is no reason to worry.
She feels strongly that the commitment that her family has made to move Pavel out of the orphanage and into a loving home is one that must be honored.
"And I know the Russians want the same thing for him," she insists. "I know they have the same kind intentions."
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society