About 30 Americans whose adopted Romanian children have been denied immigration to the United States protested for a third day Friday outside the U.S. Embassy.
U.S. Ambassador Alan J. Green Jr. talked with some of the distraught parents for 45 minutes Friday and told them "he has called very high authorities in Washington" to try to help them, said Kathy Lyon of Corning, N.Y. Green made no promises, however, she said.Lyon has been in Romania nearly two months adopting Quinn, 2, and a two-month-old baby, Gus.
Since completing the adoption, she is their legal parent as far as the Romanian authorities are concerned. But officials from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service have told her her children cannot get an entry visa because their natural parents are alive.
According to U.S. law, an adopted child must be an orphan or abandoned by his natural parents before he is granted residency in the United States.
"I could have adopted children in the United States, but I thought I would do a good thing to offer a home to these children who desperately need one," she said.
There are an estimated 140,000 orphans and abandoned children in Romania, partly as a result of former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's ban on birth control and abortion when he ruled the country.
Robert Looney, an official with the INS in Vienna who has been investigating the cases, says he has about 40 questionable applications, according to Lyon. He plans to meet with the families concerned on Monday, she said.
"I guess I am not ready to believe that I have to stay in Romania for a couple of years" in search of a visa, she said.
About 20 U.S. families started the visa protest outside the American Embassy on Wednesday.
Sonya Paterson, of Vancouver, British Columbia, a protest organizer, said Friday that about 50 families have been denied U.S. visas. The denials follow a recent TV broadcast showing Romanian gypsies allegedly selling children.
The U.S. Embassy has granted 800 visas for adopted children this year, up from 500 for all of 1990, according to embassy spokesman Virgil Bodeen.
He said three officials from the Vienna branch of the U.S. immigration service are in Bucharest helping process the applications.
Bodeen added that Ambassador Green is "doing everything he can to help," but added: "I think Washington has become very sensitive to the business of adoptions here."
He said immigration officials are questioning whether children have really been abandoned. "There is a little more scrutiny of the whole process, and this is where these parents find themselves," Bodeen said.