Detective's dream of family dashed by adoption ban

Jan. 06, 2013 @ 11:34 AM

When T.J. Goforth and her husband Tommy first saw the little Russian girl they hope to adopt, it was magic.

“It was love at first sight,” T.J. said, fighting tears. “They brought her in to us and she looked at us and we looked at her and thought, ‘this is our baby.’”

The couple flew to Russia just after Thanksgiving to meet the 19-month-old girl with dark hair and eyes that their Ohio-based adoption agency matched them with. They had eight days to bond with the girl. They left for their Monroe home hoping to return this month to sign adoption papers and bring the child home. She had even begun to call T.J. “Momma.”

Then the couple heard the news that the Russian supreme courts had suspended all adoption hearings. President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning American adoptions of Russian children on Dec. 21, 2012.

Their dream of bringing the angelic little girl home was crushed. Tommy and T.J., a Monroe Police detective, have tried unsuccessfully to have a baby of their own. Adoption was the only other path to parenthood.

Strong public outcries in both Russia and the U.S. followed the ban, but lawmakers appear unswayed. The U.S. Department of State has asked the Russian government to complete about 50 adoptions pending with American families. But there is no guarantee that Russia will honor an adoption agreement signed in November.

The ban was passed in retaliation for the Magnitsky Act which blocks any Russian citizen accused of human rights violations from entering the U.S., owning real estate here or making other investments. Russian lawmakers drafted the adoption ban in response and Putin signed it into law. He alleged the U.S. committed human rights violations in Afganistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

The ban’s timing is tragic for the couple. T.J. and Tommy began their search for a Russian orphan to adopt in February 2011. They went to a seminar and decided to begin the long process of international adoption.

“It took about nine months to finish our dossier, which is all the paperwork needed to do a Russian adoption,” T.J. said.

In January 2012, their information was finally sent to regions of Russia where the adoption agency worked with local orphanages. In August, they were sent a photo of the little girl and the invitation to come meet her.

They were delighted to find the child healthy and bright. They grew attached to her, but could not bring her home until the legal adoption was finalized.

“We came back and we were waiting for a court date so we could petition for parental rights,” T.J. said. “They gave us travel vouchers for January 19 to come back here. When we’d get back home, we’d have her with us.”

Now T.J. and Tommy have no idea if they will ever see the little dark-eyed girl again.

“We’re hoping for a miracle,” T.J. said. “I’m praying that something changes.”