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Families wait as Russia sorts out adoptions

MOSCOW — From their faraway homes in the American West, 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.

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Brian Preece of Nampa, Idaho had been hoping his life as an adoptive father would have started by now, perhaps with a special treat for his 4½-year-old boy. ‘‘I was planning on going swimming with my son,’’ he said. Preece and his wife, Rebecca, sat in a Moscow hotel 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, who with her husband Wayne was 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 in Utah to care for their two biological daughters, 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 law’s hasty enactment left many questions unresolved. Although a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, has said that adoptions already approved by courts could go ahead, the Preeces said they were told that the ban has left a legal vacuum — with no mechanism for issuing the decree that finalizes the case.

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