Six months ago, Bill and Val Deutsch had two special ornaments hanging on their Christmas tree. One featured a photo of their soon-to-be son, 15-year-old Timothy*, who was halfway across the world in a Russian orphanage. The other portrayed their 14-year-old prospective daughter, Anna*, who lived in the same orphanage. A set of Russian dolls waited on the mantle for the day Anna came home.
The Deutsches’ home study for the international adoption had just been approved, paving the way for their first in-person meeting with Tim and Anna in Russia in late February. Only then would the teenagers know they had prospective parents who wanted them. They would be recognized as Bill and Val’s legal children just a few months after that, and finally come home to Richmond, Virginia.
With the end game in view, Bill, Val and their adult children all felt the season of expectant hope particularly strongly.
But today, Tim and Anna are still in their orphanage. They’ve never met — or even heard from — their almost-parents, despite the long paper trail and expense the Deutsches have endured on their behalf. Instead, the teenagers are just two of about 700 Russian children caught in an international spat between world powers, leaving emotionally and financially invested parents in limbo. After six months, some of these almost-parents are acknowledging that they’ve lost their children.
“You have these hopes that this is going to be your son or daughter,” Val remembers. “And then, when it’s taken away, it’s like a death — a bereavement.”