Russian Adoption Politics

The posting last week was about Russian politicians retaliating against a U.S. law imposing human rights requirements on Russia. The Russian law, which would include banning adoptions of Russian children by Americans, is moving closer to reality. The law has been passed and Vladimir Putin has indicated he will approve it. A Reuters article by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya and Alissa de Carbonnel reports the law would cancel the placement of 46 Russian orphans in U.S. homes. There were 956 Russian Children adopted by Americans last year. An Associated Press article by Nataliya Vasilyeva and Mansur Mirovalev  on Yahoo reports that more than 60,000 Russian children were adopted by Americans in the past 20 years.  

The Russian law has sparked outrage in both Russia and the U.S. because the children “…aren’t offered to foreigners until they get a certain number of (adoption) refusals from Russians…” Many of them have difficulty being adopted because they have severe health problems or disabilities. There are “…about 740,000 children without parental care in Russia…” and many live in severely overcrowded orphanages.

It would seem the willingness of Americans to adopt Russian children, especially those with disabilities, would be welcomed. However, it is more complicated than just a political spat. The new Russian law is named Dima Ykolevlaw  “…after a Russian-born toddler who died of heat stroke after his American adoptive father left him locked in a sweltering car.” There was another disturbing case of a Russian-born child being raped by the American pedophile adoptive father.

There is yet another side of the issue that is very important to Russia. The country has been struggling to combat a birth rate that had been shrinking at an alarming rate. An article in the Financial Times by Charles Clover says the population decline that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union is similar to the losses during World War II. Putin has been preoccupied by the problem and had even proposed that women giving birth to a second child be paid the equivalent of $10,000 U.S. dollars. He called it “mother capital.” He recently celebrated that births have outnumbered deaths in 2012 by saying “Our women know what to do, and when.” It seems natural that a country wanting more births would want their orphans to be adopted in their home country.

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