MOSCOW — From their faraway homes in the American West, the two couples made repeated missions of love to Moscow, each seeking to adopt children with Down syndrome.
Now, with court approval at last in hand, a political squabble with a trace of Cold War friction has derailed those plans, leaving them in anxious limbo.
Brian Preece had been hoping his life as an adoptive father would have started by now, perhaps with a special treat for his 4 1/2-year-old boy.
"I was planning on going swimming with my son," he said. But instead of splashing around in a pool in Nampa, Idaho, Preece and his wife, Rebecca, sat in a Moscow hotel lobby this week, at loose ends after officials refused to turn over the boy even though a court approved the adoption last year.
With them was Jeana Bonner of South Jordan, Utah, on her fourth trip to Russia as part of intensive efforts by her and her husband, Wayne, to adopt a 5-year-old girl.
"There is no process set up, there is no information specific to our case," said Bonner, who left her husband behind in Utah to care for their two biological daughters, including one with Down syndrome.
The Bonners and Preeces have run into a legal cul-de-sac. After their adoptions received court approval, they expected to wait nervously through a 30-day period in which the ruling can be challenged, then get the decree allowing them to take custody of the children, obtain needed documents and take them home.
But during those 30 days, Russia enacted a law banning adoptions by Americans. The ban was rushed through parliament and sped to President Vladimir Putin's desk in less than 10 days in a surge of retaliatory anger over a new U.S. law calling for sanctions on Russians identified as human-rights violators.