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Point and click: You're parents!


August 7, 1997
Web posted at: 4:52 a.m. EDT (0852 GMT)

From Correspondent Charles Zewe

DALLAS (CNN) -- Faced with finding homes for thousands of orphans worldwide, adoption agencies are using a new marketing tool: the Internet.

The immediacy of cyberspace helped Mike and Cheryl Ruziska cut months, if not years, from the length of time adoptions usually take.

"When we found out we couldn't have children, we looked at a couple of other options. And just based on the success rates of invitro, we figured if we were going to spend that kind of money, let's do something we know we are going to get right the first time," says Mike Ruziska, who's still getting used to becoming a parent to 1-year-old Elizabeth and 2-year-old Alex.


Maintaining their privacy was one of the reason the Ruziskas, and many like them, have searched the web for their children.

"It was a good way to get information in privacy without having to call people and having to get a lot of information first," Michael says.


They picked a Russian agency because they decided adopting Russian orphans would be faster and easier than a U.S. adoption.

After undergoing both U.S. and Russian background checks along with putting up $50,000, the Ruziskas flew to an orphanage in Magnitogrosk in early June to meet their new children. Both children were abandoned by their mothers in the orphanage, some 1,500 miles south of Moscow.

"I was pretty emotional. We both were," Cheryl Ruziska recalls. "Because you wait for so long and then you see these children that they've never known a mom and dad."

A grain of salt

Little Yuri and Svetylana became Alex and Elizabeth after leaving the Russian orphanage that had been their home.

Every year there are about 60,000 adoptions in the United States. The Internet is expected to increase that number while also making it easier for families to find information on children needing new homes, particularly children with physical, mental or emotional problems.

Charles Chidekel used the Internet to find a mother-to-be who wanted to give up her baby for adoption. Now he runs his own adoption web page and has helped 17 couples adopt children by linking prospective parents with birth mothers.

"Our site gives them an easy, comfortable process. They don't have to go into a big office and face a lot of people," says Chidekel of his "Adoptions OnLine."

Internet security experts, however, caution prospective parents to make sure they know who they're dealing with.

"You must take the information you get with a grain of salt or understand where you're getting it from," says Fred Jones of Electronic Data Systems.

Meanwhile the Ruziskas are learning what it's like to rear two toddlers.

"He just threw up all over me and it didn't bother me," Charles says.

For Cheryl, her Internet-delivered family was meant to be.

"I feel like I've always been their mom."


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