US parents won't torture Russian orphans anymore

Russia and the United States signed the bilateral agreement on adoption. Seventeen children, which US parents adopted from Russia, have died in the United States of America during the recent several years. There were also a number of incidents, when foster parents were abusing adoptive children from Russia or even sending them back to their homeland like a pair of shoes that did not fit. Russian officials say that the new agreement will reduce the number of such sad cases.

The need to sign such an agreement appeared a long time ago. According to official information, Americans have adopted as many as 60,000 Russian children during the recent 20 years. Experts say, though, that the real number of adoptions is larger - up to 100,000. Approximately 14,000 Russian children left to the USA in the middle of the 1990s. The legal aspect of those adoptions was very very doubtful. Private agencies would contact directors of orphanages in Russia and simply buy the children they liked. There is nothing surprising about the fact that the Russian authorities know nothing about the fate of hundreds of children, who were taken away from the country like that.

Also read: Will Russian orphans be saved from American monsters?

British, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish parents adopt children from Russia too. However, Russia has an official agreement on adoption only with Italy. However, the largest number of Russian children move to the US of A. Russia comes third after China and Guatemala on the list of US primary "suppliers of children."

The signing of the adoption agreement with the United States was preceded with five rounds of negotiations and numerous scandals with foster parents.

The US-based Leshchinsky couple were tormenting three girls that they had adopted from Russia. The "caring and loving" parents would make the girls push-up on a board with nails and punch each other in the head. The foster mother of Daniil Bukharov used the boy to practice her "effective" pedagogical methods. The woman would pour cold water over the boy, make him rinse his mouth with chili sauce and film the process on video.

The case of Artyom Saveliev (April 2010) became the last straw in the US-Russian adoption dispute. His US foster mother simply sent the boy back home to Russia. She wrote a note in which the woman said that she would like to refuse from the child. The case triggered an intensive dialogue between Russia and the United States on the subject of adoption.

Pavel Astakhov, Russian ombudsman for Children's Rights, said that the foster mother would never be able to throw the child out as a thing that she did not like if there were an adoption agreement between Russia and the USA. Such irresponsible parents would have to maintain the child financially afterwards. According to him, Russia instituted legal proceedings at the Moscow Municipal Court to recover alimony from the US mother to support Artyom. The US side will have to follow the court ruling on the case after the adoption agreement is signed, Astakhov said.

The new agreement stipulates an opportunity to receive alimony, as well a number of other options to control the process of adoption. No independent adoptions - when US parents come to an orphanage in Russia to pick a child - will ever be possible now . The adoption agencies will have to obtain accreditation both in the United States and in Russia. They will have to both collect information about would-be foster parents and control the situation in families after the child's adoption.

Potential adoptive parents will have to take the toxicological test. In addition, the agreement bans the delivery of Russian children to same-sex couples in the States. Most importantly, the agreement will have the retroactive effect to cover all incidents of US-Russian adoptions during the recent 16 years. The adopted children will hold Russian citizenship before they come of age (Russian children would previously lose their citizenship right after adoption).

The number of children taken to foster families has decreased recently a lot - to 3-4 thousand a year. The quantity of orphans in Russia has been decreasing in the country during the recent years too. There were 450,000 orphans in Russia in 2005, whereas in 2010 - 370,000. This happens for two reasons. One of them is the demographic decline, whereas the other one is the delivery of orphans to adoptive or so-called patronate families. However, the number of such families in Russia has been the same for several years. Officials of the Ministry for Education said that Russian citizens adopt as many as 9,000 children a year.

It is possible to increase this number if the state supports not only orphanages, as it happens today, but foster families as well. For the time being, the situation leaves much to be desired. The state spends the average of 60,000 rubles ($2,000) to maintain a child in a state-run institution a month. It goes without saying that a child does not receive this money: the funds are distributed by regional social protection departments. Those services are interested in having orphanages as long as possible. Therefore, the number of children adopted inside Russia will continue to remain low.

Svetlana Smetanina


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov