Happy Birthday Ezra!!! From Zoe

Zoe at treehouseLetter from Zoe (Ezra’s cousin… age 4)

Dear Ezra,

Happy Birthday!

I went to your house in Florence and played in the treehouse.  It was fun.  I wish you were here to play, too!

For lunch we had hamburgers. And cannoli for dessert.

And then I played with your Hot Wheels garage.  And also air hockey.

We sang happy birthday, Ezra. We have real good presents for you.

I can sing “44 gatti”, the song that Sara taught me. I like to draw pictures.

I miss you.

Hot wheels garage





Happy Birthday Eli!

A typical Eli birthday feast from a few years ago

A typical Eli feast from a few years ago. Since that really is Eli scuba diving, many of his friends asked, “is that also you diving off the cliff?”


On a warm winter evening, just 14 years ago, Elliot snuck into the world in a corner of piazza Indipendenza, in Florence, Italy.

Actually, he didn’t quite sneak in. He arrived with an earth-shaking roar.

Shortly after, Sam and Papa went out to celebrate with a pizza together.

On the occasion of Eli’s big 14th birthday, his family and friends send a big hug and happy birthday wishes to Eli!  Everyone misses him a lot, and hopes that they will be able to see him and/or speak soon. Kevin has a whole bunch of new jokes he’s been holding back just for Eli.


The family also has some cool presents  they would love to give him, and are  looking for ways to deliver them . Grandpa and Roro also wanted to give Eli  some “walking around money” so he can, presumably, walk around until he finds what he would like.

And we are all sure that, no matter where Eli celebrates his birthday this year, he’ll have plenty of good stories to tell.

Farside bears

Happy Birthday Sam!!!

Basketball Jones

Today is Sam’s birthday!
Happy birthday Sam, from all the family! Everyone sends their love, hugs, and kisses, and the family has all put together presents that we think you will like very much. Hopefully you will be able to receive them.

We know that you are working hard to do well in school, that you are a developing talent in basketball and are still a formidable goalie in soccer. And that you will always have an incredible ear for music.

Electric guitar image

We all miss you very much, and look forward to being able to catch up and have fun like we once did. Really miss you, Sam.

Everyone wishes you a great birthday, with too much cake and ice cream, and a lot of laughing, being silly, and just having a great time.

A big hug from Papa, Grandpa & Roro, Molly, Lorenzo, Zoe, Kevin, and Ina.


Happy Birthday Sara!!

On July 22, Sara turned a whopping 11!  Her father and all the family all send the biggest wishes possible, and all hope that they will be able to see her soon and deliver presents and kisses.  On her birthday, the family did attempt to deliver a message to Sara, although we do not know if it got through.

And a super-special happy birthday from Sara’s cousin Zoe, who sends a huge hug and wants Sara to know that she still talks to her all the time in her imagination, often when she goes to bed, even if she cannot talk to her for real, and that she sang “Happy Birthday to You” for Sara on her birthday.

And from Papa, a hope that Sara will know that “as long as one and one is two…”  well, the song says it all.  And here is another version, just in case the link with the lyrics doesn’t work.

One of Sara's favorite candies, the devilish Hot Tamales

The devilish Hot Tamales, even the spiciest are never too hot for Sara!

Happy Birthday Ezra!!!!

imageHappy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday to You!
Happy Birthday Dear Ezra!
Happy Birthday to You!

We love you and miss you very very much!
We wish we could see you!
We wish we could talk to you!

Please know you are in our thoughts, our dreams and our hearts each and every day, even if you can not see us!

Papa, Maggi, Aunt Molly, Uncle Kevin, Zio Lorenzo, Grandma Roro, Grandpa Jim, Grandma Ina and little cousin Zoe!! Oh, and Hobbes the cat too!

Ezzy March 2011Mike & Z at workEzzy Skiing 2 2011

Moscow Times: Russia Puts Politics Over Children

In an article about the case in this week’s Moscow Times, former Moscow Ombuds for children, Alexei Golovan, speaks about the children’s abduction and the psychological damage that Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь) is causing the children. “The children become hostages in this situation. The abductor determines the future of the children, who become used to the company of one parent over the other. This can cause serious psychological damage, as the children feel betrayed and their sense of worth is hit. It can determine the ultimate character of the children.”


Politics Seen in International Custody Disputes

Why a Girl Tore Her U.S. Passport

21 February 2013

By Alexander Winning

Sara ripping her passport

With photo cameras snapping and television cameras rolling, Sara defiantly said she had no intention of living in the U.S.Muffled in a light-blue coat and with downcast eyes, 10-year-old Sara ripped apart her American passport outside the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg.

Standing nearby, her mother, Russian emigre and Harvard graduate Marianne Grin, voiced support for legislation banning Americans from adopting Russian children — the reason for the rally in late December.

“The way that America betrayed us has led us to despair,” Grin said by phone Thursday, explaining her daughter’s actions.

State media lapped up the scene of a child rejecting her father’s U.S. heritage in favor of her mother’s Russian roots. The image of Sara tearing up her passport — albeit it was expired — appeared on television and in newspapers and blogs as the country debated the Jan. 1 ban on U.S. child adoptions.

Sara’s theatrical gesture, however, casts the spotlight on a less visible sore point in U.S.-Russian relations where children are also suffering: child custody disputes.

Continue reading at



Russian news video with English subtitles

Now with English subtitles, here is the video by Komsomolskaya Pravda, an online Russian daily newspaper, after attempting to investigate the story of Marianne Grin (Марианны Гринь).

A previous post discussed the content of the video, which contains interviews with Grin followed by the journalist’s efforts to verify what she says, noting frequent inconsistencies in her story.  When the journalist attempts to ask her about evidence that shows she is lying, Grin first refuses to answer. When the journalist asks again, she becomes aggressive and abruptly ends the interview after accusing him of “being paid by an American citizen”.  (NB: Grin is also a US citizen.)

The original, without subtitles, is available here:

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