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Adoptive parents react to Russian ban

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It was a snap shot that forever changed the lives of Don and Lois Savell.

"This beautiful girl with just the saddest eyes and we just felt in our heart and our spirit that we were the ones who were chosen to go get this sweet little girl," said Lois.

Eleven years old and orphaned, her name was Ylena.  From Kingwood the Savell's traveled half way around the world to bring her home. The year was 1998.

At a crisis center in St. Petersburg, Russia the Savell's found their little girl. She told them God had answered her prayers and they were the proof.

The feeling was absolutely mutual.

"Just to be able to take your heart out and hand it to that little girl and for her to say words like 'Dad' and 'Dad, I love you' and 'Dad, thank you'," said Don, his voice cracking with emotion.

"Your heart just melts and you just fall in love when you look in their eyes and every day it grows and grows and grows," said Lois.

In the 14 years since, Ylena Savell has thoroughly thrived in her new homeland.

It is an ongoing story of love and success Lois and Don would like to share with Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader who says it will happen no more.

"To see her walk across the stage as a high school graduation and then enroll in college and then becoming a part of society and now in a management position where she's entrusted with other people. Just to witness that journey has been incredible," said Don.

As for the dozens of parents whose adoptions have been jeopardized, perhaps permanently, by mean spirited politics, the Savell's offer empathy and hope.

"When you have that child's picture and you know that that is your child just as if you had given birth to that child, there really is no difference. These people are desperate to get their child home," explained Lois.

"I would say to families that are in that moment, because I remember that sinking feeling, I would say just hang on a little while longer. I feel that things will turn around," said Don.

Over the past decade, 19 of the more than 60,000 Russian children adopted by Americans have died.  Over the same period, the Washington Post reports more than 1,200 adopted children have died in the care of Russian parents.

As the adoption ban takes effect it's estimated the orphanages of Russia house at least 700,000 kids under the age of 16.

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