Couple ‘devastated’ on adoption trip to Europe

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STRATHAM, N.H. (AP) – A couple fighting to adopt a Romanian orphan got bad news on a trip to Europe to enlist help from the European Union. They were told the 4-year-old girl they hope to adopt has been assigned to a family within Romania.

Allyson Schaaf called the news “absolutely devastating,” but also said she believes it was a maneuver intended to block further discussion of her family’s case.

“It clearly is in direct retaliation for the fact that we were in Brussels,” she said.

Schaaf and her husband, Michael, adopted a Romanian boy named Iain in 2000 after she had worked with a Romanian orphanage through an advocacy group in Windham, Nobody’s Children. Two years later, the couple applied for another child and were assigned to an infant named Natasha.

Meanwhile, Romania imposed a moratorium on adoptions by foreigners in 2001. Despite the moratorium, the country continued to accept applications and even processed some cases.

A year and a half ago, Romania formally banned international adoptions by law, halting the Schaafs’ adoption of Natasha and about 200 other adoptions involving Americans. Since then, the Schaafs and Rep. Jeb Bradley have met repeatedly with U.S. and Romanian officials trying to win permission to complete adoptions that were already in progress.

The couple’s trip to Brussels with Bradley last week was the latest step.

The Romanian ambassador to the European Union, Lazar Comanescu, told them about Natasha’s placement in the middle of their meetings. He also reiterated that outstanding foreign adoptions would not be processed, Bradley said.

Bradley also felt the timing of the news about Natasha was noteworthy.

“It’s a little too convenient a coincidence,” he said.

Allyson Schaff said she will not give up.

“I will continue to work not only for our daughter, but all the abandoned children of Romania,” she said. She said she has requested a meeting with the Romanian president.

Bradley said he will continue to support the processing of the outstanding cases, and to publicize the situation in Europe and in America.

The trio went to the European Union because Romania hopes to join the cooperative next year. Originally called the European Community, the cooperative promotes economic, political and social ties among its members.

About 800 European families are in the same situation as the 200 U.S. families.

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