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Parents Fear Russian Child's Death Could Mean More Obstacles When Adopting

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Nina Hilt
RALEIGH, N.C. — The recent death of a 2-year-old child adopted from Russia has some parents concerned that adopting children from Russia could get even more difficult.

Parents who have adopted or hoping to adopt Russian children fear the death of Nina Hilt -- who authorities say died in early July after she was severely beaten by her adoptive mother -- could make the already stringent adoption process even harder.

"I think it would be taking a worst-case scenario and mainlining it," says Phyllis Mook, who has two adopted children from Russia. "This is not the norm. By far, thousands of international adoptions are successful."

Mook and her husband adopted 4-year-old Darya and her 3-year-old brother, Joshua, 15 months ago.

"In 15 months, our children have just surpassed our expectations and have overcome any issues they might have had," Mook says.

For the Mooks, the transition has been seamless.

"It has been wonderful," Mook says. "It has enriched our lives more than we ever could have imagined."

Americans adopted nearly 6,000 Russian children in 2004, and the number continues to increase every year.

Before they can be considered eligible, prospective parents must get immigration approval, complete a detailed report, go through a home study and take two trips overseas. The process can take as long as nine months and cost up to $30,000.

Walt Johnson is the executive director of Frank Adoption, a nonprofit agency in Raleigh that specializes in Russian adoptions. He says that even before the Hilt case, the Russian government started slowing down the adoption process.

"It's been a trying experience for everybody involved," Johnson said. "It's the first slowdown we've had in a long time."


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