Find your polling place and preview your ballot
Rick and Barb Durig are heading to Russia this week. But they don't know when they are coming back -- or whether they will return with the three girls they are trying to adopt.
"Our trip is still on," said Rick Durig, among several present and future adoptive parents of Russian children who met with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Sunday. "This is our final visit, we hope."
The Durigs are among thousands of people around the country caught in a tug of war between Russia and the United States over adoptions after a Tennessee woman returned her adopted Russian son by placing him on a plane with a note saying he was dangerous.
Russia retaliated last week by suspending adoptions with the United States. A delegation from the United States is supposed to go to Russia soon to negotiate a settlement.
"We don't want to be stuck there," said Barb Durig. "We are going regardless. We will at least visit the children and get to know them a little better."
Minnesota is the leading state for international adoptions from Russia, and Klobuchar has been lobbying the State Department to resolve the issue before adoptions such as the Durigs' get delayed or even canceled.
She is also pushing the federal government to focus on post-adoption services, such as counseling, to help adoptive parents with troubled kids.
She also wants to figure out a way to have post-adoption reports compiled to find out what problems, if any, parents and children are having.
Klobuchar is especially eager to create a national database to determine how often adoptions work or don't work.
"The vast majority of adoptions work," she said at Sunday's meeting at the Hennepin County Public Library. "But it is hard to make the argument without the data."
Klobuchar said there is already federal money available to conduct such post-adoption services, although she did not know the exact amount.
She said the need for such services came into focus following the Tennessee incident and one in Hastings where an adopted Russian boy whose parents had placed him in foster care brought a gun to school this month.
Klobuchar said she did not know enough about the incident in Hastings to know if it could have been prevented with post-adoption services.
"What we're doing is looking at this situation and others to see if we can make it better for parents," Klobuchar said. "It does make you want to know more."
Steve and Carol Jackson said adoptions from Russia are difficult because of the bureaucracy, but more often than not the adoptions work out.
"It isn't easy," said Carol Jackson, another of the parents who met with Klobuchar. "But, obviously, the wait is worth it. We had three great adoptions from far east Russia. We have three great girls."
Jenn and Ron Maskal, in the process of adopting a 2-year-old Russian boy, said their heart sank after hearing about the Tennessee incident and the Russian response to it.
"That was hard," said Jenn Maskal, awaiting a final court date to complete the adoption. "Before this news broke we were just in the final stages. Now we just want to get him home."
Heron Marquez Estrada • 612-673-4280