Fact Check


Does a Russian boy named Sergei need adoptive parents?

Published Jan 16, 2003

Claim:   A Russian boy named Sergei needs adoptive parents.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2002]

This is a one-time mailing and is not SPAM nor is it a scam...if you read this, you will be convinced of its sincerity.

This is to find a home for a little orphaned Russian boy who stayed with my family for a summer but still doesn't have a home to come back to. If you can help, please click on the link at the bottom of the page. If you can't help, please print his pictures from the web site and distribute them at your church.

It started in the summer of 2001, I saw an ad to host a Russian child. My wife, a Russian citizen, and I decided it would be a great idea to host a child since I also speak Russian. What the ad didn't say was that it was really about adoption. Since we were married less than two months, we were to be an "advocate Family", the purpose of which was to bring him to the weekend events where someone would see him and want to adopt him. Unfortunately the organization was fairly new here in New Hampshire, and with one exception, the only people to come to the weekend events were the other families, that had already had children and had decided to adopt.

Sergei is an absolutely great kid, and more on him later, but prospects were virtually non-existent while he was here. After several weeks, he began to fall in love with us, and we already loved him too. At some point he said to us in Russian: "The nannies said that if we are good while we are here, we will be adopted" and asked us to adopt him. My wife and I discussed it and decided we would adopt him although there were legal issues due to the brief length of our marriage. In NH you have to be married two years to adopt, or one year with a waiver, but most adoption agencies still won't touch you. And for us there were still other complications.

Between the time that we said we said we would be an advocate family and the time Sergei arrived, I lost my two biggest clients which killed us financially. Being optimistic, I assumed that things would get better when we told him we would adopt him, and although we are hanging on, there still has not been the extra money needed to go forward. Frankly, disappointing Sergei and having him sit over there for the last year has been the biggest regret of my 41 years. It kills me to know that he languishes over there in poor conditions without a loving family.

I would not lie to you and tell you that it is cheap to adopt a Russian child, but this year the NH chapter of the national organization that brought Sergei here in the first place has negotiated rates to help reduce
costs. Just so you don't think this is a scam, all costs are paid directly to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and to an accredited adoption agency in your state. I personally will never see nor ask for your money, and am only here to help you through the process as much as possible.

Now to tell you a little about Sergei:

Sergei is 9 now and came to the orphanage when his mother died and his father's parental rights were terminated. He is an absolutely delightful boy and at the weekend events, he was very popular among the adults and children alike. He is fairly small for his age, but very healthy and muscular (Any ailments listed in his official profile were absolutely not evident to us and nothing was noted at his physical exam, which was done while he was here). His personality is fabulous and he always had a smile on his face. He got along very well with the other children visiting here from Russia and at the American kids at the WMCA summer camp here in southern NH. He is very aware of his surroundings and very talkative in Russian, which is the household language in our home. Please don't worry about not speaking Russian as the children pick up English very quickly, and any perspective parents will have our phone number to translate when really necessary.

While he was here, he loved to go swimming and play with our dog Kelly. He would go swimming every day if given the chance. He also enjoyed riding his bike and playing outside. He loves fruit and most of the foods we had here. He is very affectionate and really enjoyed horsing around with this old kid (the 41 year old author).

The only negative that I feel may be a factor is that he was a little more childlike for his age than would be expected. That is not to say he behaved badly in any way, just that at age 8 (the age he was when he was here), he seem like a perfect 6 years. This may be an indicator of some learning issues from being in the orphanage.

If you would like to see some pictures of Sergei, please click on the link below, and please note the ever-present smile. Once there, if you think you might like to adopt Sergei enter your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address and I will call you, but since my friend does indeed spam from that web site, it could disappear. If you think there is even a chance you might be interested, please submit your information and I will send you more solid contact information. Responding to this e-mail will send you more solid contact information. Responding to this e-mail will not contact me.

Bring Sergei home

Origins:   If there really was a little Russian boy named 'Sergei' needing a kindly American couple to adopt him, he isn't being helped by this message. The text contains no contact information, and the link provided for interested parties to visit for more information doesn't work. Other than a mention of New Hampshire, nothing in this message identifies its sender.

There are plenty of reasons to find this message suspect, however:

  • It involves finding people who are willing to hand over money to adopt a child.
  • The URL provided at the bottom of the message doesn't work, the domain to which that URL pointed (discountshaven.com) is no longer active, and the whois database of that domain's registrar contains no contact information at all.
  • When the domain was active, it hosted a web site that hawked diet products of dubious value, among other wares. Rather a strange place to post a plea seeking prospective adoptive parents, especially given that the writer claims "since my friend does indeed spam from that web site, it could disappear." Why would anyone sincerely seeking a home for a child post information to a web site that was connected to spammers and "could disappear" at any time, especially given the plethora of free web hosting services available?
  • This message was not just forwarded to some acquaintances who passed it along to others, creating a chain of forwards; it was spammed far and wide, probably using a list of harvested or purchased e-mail addresses.

This item may have been a prank or a joke rather than an out-and-out scam, but either way there's probably not much reason to lose any sleep over the plight of poor 'Sergei.'

Last updated:   28 October 2007


David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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