WOODSTOCK, Va. (WUSA9) -- A Virginia family is hoping and praying for the arrival of the boy they call "their son." Maxim lives nearly 5,000 miles away, in a Russian orphanage where he's spent all of his 14 years. And now, the family is among hundreds nationwide now held hostage by an adoption ban imposed last month.
"Words can't even describe how I feel. I told him today, Max you just cannot fathom how much we love you," said Mil Wallen, the man Maxim calls "Dad."
Maxim captured the hearts of Dianna and Mil Wallen years ago, when they met the boy on a church mission trip. The Wallens traveled to Russia to help transform the bug-infested squalor of his orphanage into a better place to house children.
"No doubt at all. He's absolutely our son," said Dianna.
Abandoned as a baby, Maxim has spent all of his 14 years in bleak Russian orphanages. His stature may be small, but the Wallens say his heart is huge.
"He had a spirit and a life about him that a lot of the children at the orphanage didn't have. He was always smiling and happy, very curious. Always wanted affection," said Dianna.
For more than a year, the Wallens have been working exhaustively to adopt him. They completed the process last fall.
The Wallens' hopes and dreams for Maxim came to an abrupt and devastating halt when Russian President Vladimir Putin banned the adoption of Russian children by American families, effective January 1st.
The ban is widely believed to be in retaliation for the passage of an American law that aims to punish Russian officials for alleged human rights abuses.
"I just felt like one of my own biological sons had just been taken from me. And ripped out of my arms," said Dianna.
"He is my son. We have done so much stuff together when we're over there. And we've talked about what we're gonna do when he comes over here. The things we're going to do just as father and son would do," said Mil.
Added Dianna, "We've talked about going to Disney World, to New York City. All the things that kids like to do, things he wants to see."
Maxim became an unexpected media sensation in Russia, when it was incorrectly reported that he'd written a letter to President Putin begging to come to America.
The Wallens were immediately flooded with messages of support from ordinary Russians who tracked them down through social media.
Wrote another supporter: 'Good luck with Maxim, Dianna. Do not give up. Best wishes from Russia.'
Dianna reads another: 'This person says good luck to us. Make sure that no one else gets him.'
"When they first started coming in, it was overwhelming," she said.
Since then, the Wallens say a wealthy, high-profile politician has swooped in, showered the teenager with gifts and said -he- wanted to be his guardian. But they're skeptical and concerned.
"Money can't buy love that a family can give," said Dianna.
Max's bedroom in Woodstock is prepared for his arrival, decorated in orange, his favorite color. Also ready are the people he's long been calling Mom and Dad. The family he never had. Until now.
"We're never gonna give up. Ever. What would you do? Our son is in distress over there and we have to get him. It's as simple as that." said Mil.
If the adoption falls through, Maxim has promised the Wallens he will come live with them when he turns 18.