More than 650,000 Russian children are considered orphans, and since Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, signed a law last week banning U.S.–Russian adoptions, many of those children may never find homes -- leaving families across the U.S. with pending Russian adoptions stuck in limbo.
Paul and Michelle Mosley of Minden are one of those families -- devastated by news of the ban after spending the last year preparing to bring 6–year–old Artem home from Russia, but they say even though they're heartbroken, they're not giving up the fight.
"We've always wanted to adopt -- it's always been in our hearts -- and we decided this is the time," Paul Mosley said.
6–year–old Artem has never known life outside of an orphanage. His mother gave him up at birth after learning that he had down syndrome. But the Mosleys knew at first glance that he belonged with them.
"The moment he walked in, we knew he belonged in the family," Paul Mosley said. "You go along in your life and you know something's missing, or someone's missing in your family. And when we met him, we knew that piece was fulfilled."
"When you hear about his story and you start connecting and reading more about him, it's hard for me to not think about him, not really want to take care of him," Michelle Mosley said. "So, I knew he was the one, too, because you get connected to these kids. Even though you can't see them on a daily basis, you read their story and wish that you could help them out."
The last year of Paul and Michelle's lives has been filled with FBI background checks, fingerprinting, paperwork, physicals, and close to $50,000 in fees and travel expenses to bring Artem home.
All that was left was a final court date to determine when that might happen, but Russia's new ban on U.S.–Russian adoptions has left them with more questions than answers.
"When the law passed, it was hard to tell my daughters that we might not get him, because we'd been preparing a whole year to have him," Michelle Mosley said. "So then to have to tell them that we might not get him, because of politics -- that's the tough thing to break to anybody. You know, that we have no control over this, and it's just retaliation, and the innocent suffer."
And even though they're devastated by the possibility of never bringing little Artem home, they say they won't give up.
"We've been fundraising like crazy, and we will still continue fundraising to raise the funds until he's home -- whether it's a year from now, five years or a month from now," Paul Mosley said.
"We'll wait. You can't stop loving him," Michelle Mosley said. "Once you meet him and you get to know him, you can't just make my heart and my mind forget about him. So, we'll wait. You can't make me forget about him. If it's five or it's 10 years, we'll get him then."
The Mosleys are holding out hope that since they were registered for the adoption before Jan. 1, when the ban went into effect, that they'll be grandfathered in and will still have their adoption approved. But right now, they are just waiting for a court date to be set to find out where to go from here.
"Now, we wait," Michelle Mosley said.