The children of a Moscow orphanage. It was a glimpse of a life of plenty. 18-year-old twin sisters from California. It was an emotional return to a place where they once struggled to survive.More than 16 years after an American couple traveled here to collect two malnourished 2-year-old girls named Galina and Svetlana. There are now Jessica and Jennifer Allen .They have made their first trip back to Children's Home.
The twins celebrated their Russian heritage as their journey came full circle last week."It's fantastic. Jennifer, formerly Svetlana said that we're from here,. Her sister chimed in: "We're definitely Russian." The twins have high Slavic cheekbones but sound like typical California teenagers.
Russia has for years been the second biggest source nation, after China, of adopted children for Americans. But adoptions have fallen steadily in the wake of a string of abuse scandals that outraged Russia,prompting officials to demand tighter control over adoptions.
From this month , two countries hope to sign a binding agreement obliging the U.S. to investigate any reports of trouble and to increase oversight of adopting families. Russia demanded such an agreement after an adoptive mother from Tennessee put her 7-year-old boy on a plane back to Moscow last year. At least 17 adopted Russian children have died in domestic violence in American families.The U.S. State Department's Bureau for Consular Affairs, there were 1,079 adoptions of Russian children by Americans in 2010, down from 1,586 in 2009 and 5,826 in 2004.
Jessica said, "We're so lucky that we got adopted". "In the pictures we didn't even have clothes that fit. I had to wear boys clothes.Their story is 1994 adoption, which made the front page of The Washington Post, involved an emotionally draining trip to Russia for adoptive parents Pam and Mike Allen. The couple had two biological sons and were eager to adopt a girl to "fill out" their family. When offered twin girls, they quickly agreed.
Pam remarked that the twins, with puffy cheeks and a raspy rattle when they breathed, looked barely half their age. But the couple bonded with them quickly, seeing how they were otherwise as bouncy and playful as other kids their age.They hope of whisking away their new children hit a snag the next day when Svetlana's condition deteriorated and she had to be hospitalized again, setting up an agonizing few days as Pam and Mike were refused hospital visits.
After some day, the twins were deemed well enough to leave.They recovered fully under Western medical care in America.
"I can hope majarity people saw our story and adopted kids from Russia at that time, because kids really needed to get adopted. There was a lot of sick kids besides us," Jessica said.There are roughly 250,000 children in state orphanages. As many as 80 percent of Russian orphans end up in jail, become drug abusers or turn to prostitution or other crime.Their mother gave them up due to poverty.The twins soon leave the family home in Escondido, California, for college. Jessica, who won a hockey scholarship at St. Louis University, will major in nursing, while Jennifer will major in communications at the University of California.
Jessica said, "I feel, I laugh, and like to have a good time, everyone here's really serious."