International adoption topic of agency's talk

The Arizona Republic -- Sept. 13, 2004 -- Page B3

SCOTTSDALE - Children's Hope International, a non-profit adoption agency, will offer information about adopting a child at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mustang Library, 10101 N. 90th St.

The seminar will offer information about adopting children from China, Vietnam, Guatemala, India, Russia, Colombia, Kazakhstan and Nepal. The agency will detail the many aspects unique to adoption procedures in the various countries. More information is available at www.childrens

Did you know that 205 Russian orphans had been adopted by Phoenix area families by the middle of 2004?

From Gilbert with love

Russian kids coming 'home'

Cary Aspinwall
The Arizona Republic -- Sept. 11, 2004 -- Page B1

Five of Colette Steele's children live with their mother and father in a white farmhouse in Gilbert.

Soon, eight kids and even more bikes and toys will likely dot the acre surrounding the farmhouse, and the family's white minivan will be traded in for a full-size van or small bus.

It will take months of legal wrangling and tens of thousands of dollars, but the Steeles plan to bring three more kids home from Siberia, half a world away.


How to help
What: Rummage and bake sale to help defray the expenses for four Gilbert families who are adopting Russian children.

When: 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.

Where: Eagles Aerie School parking lot, Greenfield and Pecos roads, Gilbert.

To donate: An account is set up through Family Hope for monetary donations, which can be sent to Gilbert Orphan Group, c/o Family Hope, 5564 E. Garnet Ave., Mesa, AZ 85206.

They're not doing it alone.

The Steeles are one of four Gilbert families who live within three streets of each other in the final stages of adopting seven orphans from Russia.

Each of the families already has at least four children. None of them ever planned on adopting. But an Arizona program that lets families host orphans for a three-week visit each summer changed their lives forever.

"You host the kids, and you just fall in love with them," Steele said.

Steele's parents, Dean and Carolyn Eaton, are waiting to bring a new daughter home from Tomsk, a city in Siberia.

Her neighbors, the Beazers, hope to have two children home from Russia before Christmas; her next-door-neighbor, Tina Bingham, is waiting for the 7-year-old boy her family hopes to adopt.

But the process of adoption is complicated and costly - $20,000-$25,000 to bring just one child home.

The orphans visit America through trips sponsored by adoption agency International Family Services' Family Hope program. After the visit, the children must return to their orphanages before the adoptions can be completed because they are still Russian citizens visiting on limited visas.

Once they are approved by Maricopa County officials, the adopting parents travel to Russia to complete the adoption through the courts there.

Kim Beazer's heart broke as she watched her four children say goodbye to their future brother and sister at the airport last month, knowing they would return to a bleak orphanage thousands of miles away.

As many as 700,000 children are estimated to live in orphanages in Russia.

Many are "social orphans," meaning they may have at least one parent still alive who has been deemed unfit for reasons of financial hardship or parental neglect.

Most of the older children in Russian orphanages are not adopted.

When they're forced to leave at 16, as many as 40 percent become unemployed and homeless, 30 percent turn to crime and an estimated 10 percent commit suicide, according to Morgan Bates, managing director for International Family Services of Arizona.

Many grow up to work in labor camps, for the Russian military, or on the streets. The girls often become prostitutes.

"We just feel like our children are over there and we need to get them," Beazer said.

But the cost of saving these seven children will mean some big sacrifices for these Gilbert families.

The cost means canceling their other children's gymnastics lessons, gym memberships, satellite-TV service and date nights with spouses. In some cases, it means second mortgages.

But it's only money.

"People spend more than this on a car," Carolyn Eaton said. "And these are children we're saving."

The Eatons' children are forgoing Christmas presents, and Sheri, their 11-year-old daughter, has raised more than $200 for her sister to come home.

She wrote a letter for her parents to give to her when they go to Russia.

At the end was a postscript: "Just so you know, you're going to be my best friend."