When Kimber and Brett Emmons of Broadus flew to Russia in November to meet the two children they were going to adopt, there was an instant connection.
The Emmonses were planning to adopt a brother and sister — the boy turns 2 in March, the girl turns 3 in January — who were living in a "baby home" in Siberia with 80 to 100 other orphans.
Kimber Emmons said she was on her knees, trying to appear unthreatening, in the greeting room of the home when the children were brought out to meet them. She opened her arms to the little girl, who stood in front of her silently for a few moments.
"Then she just reached up and touched me on the cheek and stepped into my arms," she said. "It was amazing."
The little boy walked up to her husband, took him by the hand and led him over to where some toys were, and they sat down and played.
"They took right to us, and we took to them," she said.
They were planning to return to Russia in mid-January to finish the last details of the adoption process, wait the required 30 days and then return to Russia one more time in mid-February to bring their children home.
Those plans have been shattered. Like other American parents planning to adopt Russian children, they learned in recent days that Russia was considering a ban on American adoptions.
Through their involvement with the private agency European Adoption Consultants, the Emmonses know of some families who are already in Russia, trying to get their children out before the ban takes effect Jan. 1.
"Unfortunately, we're not one of them that's over there now," Kimber Emmons said.
The Emmonses decided to adopt after losing their 8-year-old daughter Kenna to a rare medical condition in February 2011. They also have two sons, ages 18 and 6, but it wasn't until Kenna's disease progressed that they learned it was genetic and that they should not have any more children.
Kimber Emmons said their intention in adopting wasn't to replace Kenna, but to continue something they felt they needed to do.
"We're not done loving yet," she said. "We're not done being parents."
They first tried adopting a child in Montana, she said, but the state Department of Health and Human Services somehow made the determination that Kenna's death was accidental, which raised red flags in the adoption process.
Emmons said she might have been able to unravel the misunderstanding, but she was still so devastated by Kenna's death that she burned all the paperwork associated with the adoption process and "cried for a month."
Eventually she was ready to try again. She said she interviewed 17 adoption agencies, American and international, before settling on EAC. And because of her and her husband's ancestry and where they lived, they thought Russia was "a good fit."
When the agency called and said it had not just one child but two, a brother and sister, Emmons said she didn't hesitate before agreeing to take them both. That was in early October. The meeting with the children took place around Thanksgiving.
The news out of Russia has been hard to take, and Emmons said agency officials and other parents are frankly pessimistic. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the law banning U.S. adoptions on Friday, despite opposition from high-ranking Russian officials.
"I don't know what I can do except get a plan and knock on Putin's door," Emmons said. "I don't think I'd get in."
She laughed, but then, turning more serious, she added, "We're going to pray, along with the rest of the adoptive world."