Friday, December 28th, 2012
Hundreds of American families were stunned and saddened to learn Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill that would ban adoption of Russian children by Americans. According to CNN.com, Russia is the third most popular country for Americans who pursue foreign adoption, behind China and Ethiopia. From CNN’s report:
The U.S. State Department said it “deeply regrets” the new Russian law.
“The Russian government’s politically motivated decision will reduce adoption possibilities for children who are now under institutional care,” it said in a statement. “We are further concerned about statements that adoptions already underway may be stopped and hope that the Russian government would allow those children who have already met and bonded with their future parent to finish the necessary legal procedures so that they can join their families.”
Parents.com’s GoodyBlog posted an analysis of the complex, delicate situation and the depth of its impact for American families.
If you look back, there have been rumblings of a ban for the past several years. Russian officials are angry about the 19 Russian children who died in the care of adoptive parents here in the U.S. (as they should be), and are concerned that some children have ended up in institutions here, after their parents deemed them too difficult to manage. And when Torry Hansen sent her son back to Russia in 2010, after she deemed him “dangerous” to her family, Russia halted all adoptions until some major diplomacy smoothed things over. But this new move, in retaliation for an American law that proposed sanctions against human rights violators from Russia, seems like it will be much harder to undo.
The biggest tragedy of this ban is that it means that 1,000 more children each year will join the 700,000 other orphans currently wasting away in Russian orphanages, with no opportunity to join a family. (Children only become available for international adoption in Russia if there’s no one available in the country to adopt them.) The effects of institutionalization are well documented—including problems attaching and developing relationships with others, and pervasive developmental delays. These are the kinds of things that the support of a loving family can help a child overcome. But these kids will never have that possibility, thanks to a government that’s all too willing to sacrifice the lives of these children out of spite for an unpopular American law, the Magnitsky Act.
Friday, December 28th, 2012
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he would sign a ban on the adoption of Russian children by American families. Earlier this month, the Russian Parliament voted to institute the ban, but Putin had not confirmed his view of the measure. This week’s news would mean, in the short term, that 46 children whose adoptions by American parents were nearly complete, would be blocked from being adopted at the 11th hour. More from The New York Times:
United States officials have strongly criticized the measure and have urged the Russian government not to enmesh orphaned children in politics.
“It is misguided to link the fate of children to unrelated political considerations,” a State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, said on Wednesday before Mr. Putin announced his decision.
Internally, however, Obama administration officials have been engaged in a debate over how strongly to respond to the adoption ban, and are trying to assess the potential implications for other aspects of the relationship between Russia and the United States. The United States, for example, now relies heavily on overland routes through Russia to ship supplies to military units in Afghanistan, and has enlisted Russia’s help in containing Iran’s nuclear program. The former cold war rivals also have sharp disagreements, notably over the civil war in Syria.
Until Thursday, these larger considerations, along with the possibility that Mr. Putin might veto the adoption bill, seemed to forestall a more forceful response from Washington.
The ban is set to take effect on Tuesday, and some senior officials in Moscow said they expected it to have the immediate effect of blocking the departure of 46 children whose adoptions by American parents were nearly completed. Adoption agency officials in the United States who work regularly with Russian orphanages said they expected the number of families immediately affected by the ban to be far larger, about 200 to 250 who have already identified a child that they plan to adopt.
Image: Vladimir Putin, via Mark III Photonics / Shutterstock.com
Thursday, December 20th, 2012
A vote by the Russian Parliament Wednesday threatened to put an end to the adoption of Russian children by American families. The nearly unanimous vote, which shocked the thousands of American families who have adopted–or hope to adopt–children from Russia, is apparently in retaliation for a recent measure approved by President Obama that seeks to punish Russian citizens who are accused of violating human rights. From The New York Times:
The vote in the Duma was 400 to 4, with 2 abstentions, and the enthusiasm among lawmakers showed a rare split at the highest levels of the Russian government. Several senior officials had spoken out against the ban, including some, like the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, who are known for relatively hawkish views in dealing with the United States.
Mr. Putin has said that Russia must respond to the new American law, but he has not yet expressed his view on banning adoptions outright. He will almost certainly be asked about it at a news conference Thursday.
The bill still faces two more legislative votes, and even before he decides to sign or veto it, Mr. Putin is likely to have huge sway over the bill’s final form when it emerges from Parliament.
If Mr. Putin allows the bill to go forward, it will be the most forceful anti-American action of his new term, undoing a bilateral agreement on international adoptions that was ratified just this year and crushing the aspirations of thousands of Americans hoping to adopt Russian orphans. More than 45,000 such adoptions have taken place since 1999.
Image: Gavel, via Shutterstock