ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- More than a thousand American families are in limbo right now, after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill banning American citizens from adopting Russian children. It took effect at the start of this year.
Many believe it's political retaliation for a bill President Obama signed last month which sanctions Russian officials for human rights violations.
A St. Augustine family says politics is taking a toll on the the lives of thousands of innocent children.
"I really like my home. I feel more comfortable about it. It was so happy. I really felt like I belong here and love this place, forever."
Kasi Turlington was two when she was adopted. Now 10, she describes what it's like to be home.
"They always take care of me. They give me lots of hugs, and that's when my life felt more changed and what I really wanted in my life."
Prior to coming to Florida, she lived in a Russian orphanage with about 80 other children.
"Within 30 minutes of her being with...she was laughing, giggling, playing, and we had not seen that in videos or pictures in the almost two years we had been in the process of adopting her so for Kasi it was an almost immediate change in her personality," said Don Turlington.
After adopting Kasi, the Turlingtons adopted Maleeza, now 6, from Guatemala, and then River, now 5, from China.
"It's been life altering. I think from a personal buy in I saw where they came from. I saw the orphanages they were in and the situations they came from," said Turlington.
With so many children in need, the Turlington's are not ruling out adopting another orphan from overseas, but right now Russia is off the list. It's estimated more than 700,000 children are living in Russian orphanages.
"It's amazing that a Russian leader would do something like this because the biggest losers are the children who are innocent bystanders in this event. I would say to anybody who is moved by it to contact our U.S. Representatives and speak out and say this is not acceptable," said Paul Consbruck.
The international adoption attorney said he has helped about 80 families adopt children from Russia and hopes the government there will drop the ban.
READ: Advice from the State Department for families already involved in the Russian adoption process
In 2011, Americans adopted more than 900 children from Russia, and Consbruck said in past 20 years U.S. citizens have adopted about 60,000 Russian orphans. To close the door on future adoptions he says would be a travesty.
Turlington agrees. "You see how far these kids have come when they've been given an opportunity and that's hard to think there are all those kids that might not have that opportunity."
First Coast News