Collegeville family caught in Russian adoption controversy
COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. - March 29, 2013 (WPVI) -- Steve and Jackie Salotti, a quiet devout Christian family, have been swept into an international political firestorm between the United States and Russia. It's a fight that they were hardly prepared to handle.
"With the press pounding on the door and Russia putting these programs on the television, I just couldn't believe what I was hearing," said Steve.
The rift began when President Obama signed a law banning any Russian accused of human rights violations from entering the United States.
Russia's President Putin retaliated by banning any American from adopting Russian orphans, pointing to cases of parental cruelty.
"I mean Russia's going to do what Russia's going to do," said Jackie.
After raising three kids of their own, the Salotti's back in 2008, decided to adopt two 13-year-old Russian children, naming them Sam and Josh.
There were fishing trips, BBQs, Christmas holidays with presents and pets brought into the home.
"Get them to adopt to America, the way life goes here," said Steve.
However things changed when Josh turned 18 and was allowed to return to Russia to visit relatives last summer.
He was introduced to things his adoptive parents did not approve of like drugs and alcohol.
Noticing the change in behavior and problems at school, the Salotti's decided to establish five house rules.
"No drugs or alcohol, there was no disrespectful talk to us or teachers," said Steve.
"Subject to drug testing," added Jackie.
There would also be counseling and a curfew. Sam ultimately decided to abide by the rules.
Josh ultimately fled back to Russia, where he appeared all over the state controlled media, claiming he was among those orphans being treated in a cruel manner by his American adoptive parents.
"My reaction to that, it's very hurtful because we poured our lives into these boys," said Steve.
Overwhelmed by the international media onslaught, the Solotti's hired an attorney to help them sort through the potential mine field of questions, at a time when American and Russian government relations are strained.
"They're being made out as villains, that is outrageous. Why the Russian government or the American government would allow this to happen is beyond me," said Charles Mandracchia, attorney.
The Salotti's say they are both angry and saddened over the rift between the two countries.
"But it doesn't change the fact that we're concerned about our son and what's happening to him in this," said Steve.
pennsylvania, montgomery county, russia, adoption, local/state, dann cuellar
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