Family with adopted child of their own say Russian ban only hurts children

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on December 28, 2012 at 7:19 PM

FAIRVIEW -- At home with his mom, dad, and six-year-old brother Mark, the D'Jamoos family calls him "Sasha."

There is a Russian ornament on the Christmas tree, a nod to Alexander "Sasha" D'Jamoos' birthplace south of Moscow. But this is where he belongs.

"Having a home to come back to, and Mark to hug every morning -- you can't describe it, you know?" Alexander D'Jamoos said.

But in 2006, before the D'Jamoos family adopted him at age 15, Alexander was at an orphanage for disabled children 300 miles southeast of Moscow.

"For 15 years he lived in that orphanage with deformed legs that didn't allow him to walk," his father, Mike D'Jamoos, said. "So he rolled around on a cart for fifteen years."

Mike and Helene D'Jamoos set out on a mission to adopt Alexander, and it has changed all their lives.

"Every year, we would have at least two children that would die because they had wounds that couldn't be treated," Alexander said of his orphanage.

Now, as scores of children are barred from finding American families, Alexander's parents are infuriated at Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Why do they use these poor children for political reasons? It's totally unfair to the children," Helene D'Jamoos said.

"Alexander would not even be walking today, had it not been for the opportunities presented in the United States," Mike D'Jamoos added.

Alexander suffered from birth defects that prevented him from walking. Surgery at Scottish Rite hospital in Dallas allowed him to be fitted with prosthetic legs. He speaks English like a native, graduated from high school, and is now a sophomore at UT Austin.

He is enthralled by what his new life has afforded him.

"It's amazing how transformational it has been," Alexander said. "You can take a child literally out of a hole and just with the help of a few people, you can give him an opportunity."

Out of a hole and onto a mountaintop. Last summer, Alexander took a trek up the side of Mount Kilimanjaro. He was powered by his own legs, and the love of an American family.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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