Twin girls adopted from Russia return to orphanage

Twin girls who were adopted from a Russian orphanage 16 years ago by an American couple returned to Moscow recently to visit the orphanage and country they left behind.

The visit by the girls, now 18 years old, comes as Russia and the United States work out a dispute over the regulations of adopted Russian children.

Pam and Mike Allen traveled to Moscow to adopt the girls, then named Galina and Svetlana, in 1994, as reported in the Associated Press. The American couple found two 2-year-olds sick with whooping cough and malnourishment.

The Allens brought the girls back home to California, renamed them Jessica and Jennifer and built a life together.

Their story made national headlines at the time.

Thinking back to that time, Jessica told the Daily Mail: "We're so lucky that we got adopted. In the pictures we didn't even have clothes that fitted. I had to wear boys’ clothes.

"I hope more people saw our story and adopted kids from Russia at that time, because kids really needed to get adopted," she continued. "There were a lot of sick kids besides us."

The girls' parents brought them back to Russia and Children's Home No. 13. as a graduation present.

Russian adoptions have been in the spotlight recently because stories of abuse by American parents have prompted Russian officials to demand tighter regulations. This has led to fewer Americans adopting children from Russia.

American adoptions of Russian children dropped from 5,826 in 2004 to 1,079 in 2010, according to data from the U.S. State Department.

Russia and the United States are expected to sign an agreement this month forcing the United States to investigate reports of abuse and increasing oversight.

A mother from Tennessee caused a controversy in April 2010 when she put her 7-year-old adopted child on a flight alone to Russia with a "to whom it may concern" rejection note, the Christian Science Monitor reported. This prompted Russia to threaten the suspension of all adoptions.