Families reunite 11 years after Russian adoptions - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Families reunite 11 years after Russian adoptions

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INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -

More than a decade ago, several eastern Iowa families adopted children from Russia.  But many of them haven't seen each other since the adoptions first went through, that is until Sunday. 

Looking at the table where they were seated, it would be easy to think of the group as a regular bunch of kids.  But all of them share a unique bond.  They were all adopted from Russia by eastern Iowa families.

"I'm just really lucky that I got adopted by good parents," said Alex Reinert, one of the adopted children.

Back in November 2000, the adoptive parents came together to celebrate their newly formed families.  Lynn Reinert and her husband felt compelled to adopt after watching a television program on the plight of Russian orphans.  Their two biological daughters were eager to become big sisters and actually chose their brother Alex.

"At the time, they gave us numbers and pictures and we looked them up on the Internet.  And we looked at the first couple of boys and the girls said, 'Oh cute, cute.'  And we pulled up Alex's picture, and right away at the same time they said, 'That's him!  That's the one we want,'" said adoptive mother Lynn Reinert.

Other families in the group turned to adoption after not being able to have kids on their own.  All of the parents say it was tough to travel abroad and see the conditions that orphans were living in.  But it made them feel good about what they were doing and they instantly bonded with their adoptive children. 

"I think the minute we got them in our arms, it felt like they were yours and you never felt any different about them," said adoptive mother Rhonda Erdelt.

Some of the families have seen each other on occasion since first adopting their children, while other's haven't been in contact for a decade, until Sunday's reunion in Independence.  For the kids, most of them now teenagers, it was a chance to connect with other kids that have been through their same experience.  And all of them say they're grateful to be living here with loving families.

"It means a lot to me to be coming home with a family that can provide stuff for me and that loves me.  And I've loved them since the day they got me," said adoptive child Andrew Thedens.

For the parents, it feels good to see how their adoptive children have thrived, and they hope it might encourage other families to consider adoption.

It's currently estimated that there are 143 million orphans worldwide, with four million of those in Russia and the Ukraine.

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