Texas Couple Fights To Keep Adopted Russian Son, Despite Russia's Demands
The grief for this mom is unbearable. Just 79 days after adopting two adorable brothers from Russia, Laura Shatto found the oldest boy bruised and laying unconscious in the backyard, and called 911.
Operator: "911, what's your emergency?"
Laura: "I have a three-year-old who is not breathing. I'm attempting CPR. He was playing outside on the playground. I'm not sure what happened."
Now, Laura finds herself at the center of a firestorm between Russia and the U.S. Tensions are razor sharp between the U.S. and Russia. Relations are so bad, that the head of Russia's state news agency issued a nuclear threat that Russia is the only country capable of turning the U.S. into radioactive dust.
The crisis over Crimea comes on the heels of Putin's ban on Russian adoptions by Americans. When news of Max's accident reached Russia, crowds protested in the streets.
Laura told INSIDE EDITION, "I believe that we were the opening salvo and I guess you could call it a psychological war between Russia and the U.S."
It all started innocently enough with a woman who just desperately wanted to have children.
Laura said, "I wanted to be a mom more than anything on this Earth."
During their eight-year marriage, Laura and her husband, Alan tried but couldn't conceive children of their own. So in 2012, they were overjoyed to learn they were approved to adopt two brothers from Russia. Three-year-old Max and his two-year-old brother, Kris. The Shotto's traveled to Russia and couldn't wait to hold the boys in their arms.
Alan said, "They were the happiest time in our lives."
The couple took their sons back to their home outside Midland, Texas. Things were going great.
Then, in January 2012, Laura was watching Max play. She left him alone for a moment and returned to find him laying motionless on the ground. She showed us how she performed CPR while talking to 911.
911 Operator: "Does he have a pulse at all?"
Laura: "I'm not feeling a pulse."
911 operator: "Ok. I want you to do compressions, ok?"
Max's brother Kris could be heard crying in the background.
Laura reassured Kris, "Baby, I'm not hurting him."
Then, after nearly 20 minutes, a sign of hope. Laura said, "I think I've got a heartbeat."
911 operator: "Can you hear it?"
Laura: "It's really faint."
911 operator: "Ok, you're doing a wonderful job, Laura. Nobody could do any better."
Tragically, Max died at the hospital and the Shatto's were immediately placed under a cloud of suspicion.
"In public I was called a murderer. I was called a baby killer. People left death threats on the phone," Laura said.
But the official cause of death was deemed accidental. Max fell off his swing set and ruptured an internal artery.
But the Shatto's say the Russian government wouldn't accept the findings. They wanted Max's brother, Kris sent back to Russia.
Laura said, "We just received paperwork from Russia where they annulled Kris' adoption."
Laura and Alan didn't want us to take any video of Kris' face and said, "We're afraid of the Russians kidnapping Kris and taking him back to Russia because based on the Russian allegations, they're capable of anything."
The Shatto's say losing one son was bad enough. They say they will do everything to keep Kris with them here in America.
Laura confirmed, "The one thing we will not let happen is we are not letting him go back to that Russian orphanage."