- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2006

The plight of Russia’s abandoned children was the subject of concern Tuesday night at a Russian Embassy benefit where several hundred supporters of Firefly Children’s Network, a non-profit group that helps return institutionalized children to their birth mothers, gathered to view a heart-wrenching documentary, “The Road Home,” on the subject.

Guests learned there are approximately 850,000 children in Russian orphanages, suffering emotional and physical distress. Firefly, founded in 2000 by Jonathan and Julie Baker (who have two Russian adopted children of their own), works at finding solutions to this growing problem, including helping those with disabilities.

Guests included Kuwait Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah and his wife Rima; Sheila Weidenfeld, Betty Ford’s White House press secretary; People Magazine’s Jane Podesta; Patton Boggs lawyer Graham Wisner; Firefly’s board president Nicole Levin; Selene Obolensky, who has worked tirelessly over the years for adoption causes in Russia; and Eugenie Chavchavadze.

Mavrina Elmira Amirovna, first deputy minister of Tatarstan and one of several officials who traveled from Russia for the event, introduced the film. Guests dined on salmon and beef stroganoff as Firefly executive director Rene Wallis expressed her gratitude for American support. “With two countries as strong as the United States and Russia,” she said, “only good things can come from this partnership.”

Stephanie Mansfield

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