Date: 1997-07-25

Rocky Mountain News (CO)
Author: Guy Kelly
Dateline: GREELEY

Don't blame the Russian orphanage for whatever emotional problems David Polreis may have had, a woman who has been there 13 times said Thursday.

Donna Clauss said the Tula, Russia, orphanage is a clean, well-managed facility filled with toys and caregivers devastated to learn of 2 1/2-year-old David's death.

``He was one of the loved ones in the orphanage. There were many loving memories of this child,'' Clauss said. ``They remember his brightness, his incredible brightness.''

Clauss is executive director of the Rainbow House, which helped Renee and Dave Polreis adopt David in July 1995.

Renee Polreis' attorneys contend the boy suffered from reactive attachment disorder, an affliction they say stems from his years of deprivation and lack of stimulation in the orphanage.

The disorder played a role in his death because it can cause some kids to inflict injuries on themselves, they say.

A defense witness testified Tuesday that Russian orphanages are nightmarish places where physical and sexual abuse are rampant and kids are half-starved. But the witness, Claudia McCulloch, said she had never been to the Tula orphanage or any others.

Clauss, who has traveled to orphanages around the world, said Wednesday the Tula facility is relatively posh, with Oriental carpets on the walls and daily activities for about 85 children who are cared for in groups of 10. She's placed about 60 kids from the Tula orphanage in American homes, she said.

David was among the director's favorites, Clauss said. ``She adored this child - he was her pet,'' Clauss said.

But Polreis' attorney Harvey Steinberg said that Clauss, who charged the Polreises $9,500 to help adopt the boy, had no choice but to defend orphanages because they were part of her livelihood.


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