In Russia, teen complains of adoptive Montco parents

The drainage pipe near the Salotti family's home where Josh Salotti said he was forced to live. ROBERT MORAN / Staff
The drainage pipe near the Salotti family's home where Josh Salotti said he was forced to live. ROBERT MORAN / Staff
Posted: March 28, 2013

Sam Salotti, 19, woke up Tuesday to a Facebook message from a woman who said she was an editor with Russia's state-run Channel One.

The channel was planning a show about Salotti's adoptive brother, Josh, 18, who returned to Russia late last year after a tumultuous stay with the Collegeville couple who adopted the pair six years ago.

Josh Salotti, now going by the name Alexander Abnosov, sparked an uproar in Russia by accusing his and Sam's adoptive parents, Stephen and Jacqueline Salotti, of being cruel and forcing him to live in a drainage pipe near the family's house on Meadow Road.

Russian television cast the story as an example of the alleged misfortunes that befall Russian children adopted by U.S. parents. In December, Russia banned American adoptions of Russian children in retaliation for a U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human-rights violators.

“We’ll be prepared to make a statement at the appropriate time,” Stephen Salotti, said at his home this afternoon.

Sam Salotti said he was shocked by his brother's appearance in the news, but not by the allegations.

Yes, he said, his brother and a friend did live in the drainage pipe for several months. Josh Salotti wanted his parents to take in a friend, Ben, who allegedly had been kicked out of his home, but the Salottis refused. So Josh Salotti and Ben slept at the end of the street in the drainage area.

Neighbors confirmed as much. "Him and another boy [were] living under the sewer," said Joe Caine, 69, who said he has lived across from the Salottis for nearly 33 years.

Caine said the young men were stealing from the neighborhood. "First time in 30 years, we started locking our cars," he said.

In Russia, Josh Salotti admitted he had resorted to theft. "I was stealing stuff and sold them to get some food," he told Channel One.

Russian media reported Tuesday that Josh Salotti had returned to the Volga River city of Cheboksary, where his 72-year-old grandmother lives.

Josh Salotti told Russian media that Jacqueline Salotti was "nagging at small things" and "would make any small problem big." He said he fled home because of the conflicts with his adoptive mother.

He told the daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda that his parents visited him while he stayed in a shelter in Philadelphia, but that they didn't ask him to come home as he had expected.

The paper said it reached Jacqueline Salotti, who denied driving him away.

Although someone was inside the Salotti house Tuesday night, nobody responded to a knock on the door.

Caine and another neighbor defended the parents and said Josh Salotti was a troublemaker.

Sam Salotti said his parents set strict rules but his brother refused to comply with them.

"It got to the point, my mom said, 'Get out of the house,' " said Sam Salotti, who spoke at the home of neighbors Barbara and Jack Ayling, where he said he has been staying for a few nights while his father is out of town.

The Aylings said they were happy to accommodate Sam Salotti, who is a regular guest in their house.

He said that he also has a difficult relationship with his mother, but that he tried to get along while his brother could not.

His adoptive father gave Josh Salotti his passport, a plane ticket to Russia, and $500, and Josh returned in late December, Sam Salotti and the Aylings said.

Sam Salotti said he spoke Tuesday to the Russian TV editor, who invited him to appear on the show with his brother and offered to reunite him with his own birth relatives.

"I don't care. I'll do any stupid show" to be able to see his mother and birth relatives again, he said.

But if they want to fly him to Moscow, he said, it has to be a round-trip ticket. He is about to graduate from Methacton High School, and he doesn't want to miss that.


Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com, or on Twitter @RobertMoran215.

This article contains information from the Associated Press.

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