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Local family skirts by ban on Russian adoption

Welcome-home balloons hang in the living room of

Welcome-home balloons hang in the living room of the Cirone family in Bayport, celebrating the newest addition to their family, Anastasia, 2, who was adopted from a Siberian orphanage. From left are Anastasia, Adrienne, 43, Logan, 7, and Al Cirone, 47. (March 1, 2013) Credit: Heather Walsh

Anastasia is 2 years old. She laughs, babbles, mimics her older brother and plays with her family in a basement stocked with toys. At night, her parents tuck her into bed. She kisses them and falls asleep, her every stirring visible on a baby monitor set up in the kitchen.

She's so ingrained in their lives, Anastasia's family says, it's hard to believe that two months ago the Bayport girl lived in an orphanage in Siberia. And after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order on Dec. 28 stopping American adoptions of Russian children, it wasn't clear that her new family would see her again.

"I feel like it was sheer luck or really just supposed to be," said Anastasia's mom, Adrienne Cirone, who teaches special education in Bay Shore. When the couple left in January to bring her home, they thought, "If this is supposed to be, she'll be with us," she said.

The Cirones are one of 25 families in the country that have completed the adoption of their Russian child after the law took effect Jan. 1. According to numbers from the U.S. State Department provided by the office of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), there are 884 American adoptions of Russian children in progress, and 337 cases in which the parents have already met the child they want to adopt.

Al and Adrienne Cirone began their journey to Anastasia in spring 2011. Adrienne had had serious complications delivering their 7-year-old son, Logan, but they wanted him to have a sibling.

They met Anastasia last June, when they flew to Chita in eastern Russia and spent three days with her at the orphanage. "I knew after we met her we couldn't just leave her there," Adrienne Cirone said.

Al and Adrienne flew back for their Nov. 28 court hearing and planned to fly there around Christmas -- after a 30-day waiting period for new parents -- to bring Anastasia home.

But exactly 30 days after their case was approved, the adoption ban story broke. After Schumer's office and the State Department reached out on their behalf, the Cirones were advised to travel to Russia in January to pick up their daughter.

"When we went, it was scary," Adrienne Cirone said. "That third trip is supposed to be joyous. And because of the climate that was going on it wasn't like that."

With what the Cirones describe as a lot of help from the U.S. government, they got Anastasia home.

Despite the couple's anxiety, things went smoothly and officials were friendly. "Every Russian person that came into contact with us would say congratulations, and to Anastasia, 'You're one lucky girl,' " Al Cirone said. "Not one person said anything negative to us at all."

The Cirones have made close friends through the process, including a family in Plainview and one in Sag Harbor who are waiting for Russian orphans, agonizing over whether to keep trying to bring the children here.

"You work so hard through that process and when you finally get to that point you want to be like 'Wow,' " Adrienne Cirone said. "And then we couldn't help but think about friends of ours who we met along the way that wouldn't be going . . . people whose kids were in the same orphanage as Anastasia and weren't going to be leaving."

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