By George Green
May 17th of last year I personally called out, via an article for Pravda.ru, for the halting of all foreign adoptions, especially to Americans, of Russian children. My principles, had nothing to do with anyone named Magnitsky, or any act named for that individual. I stand by my reasoning, and though even many Russian nationalists are crying foul, I believe this law, in connection with others forthcoming, to be a great step in reducing Russia's population decline, as well as benefiting orphans in ways they wouldn't be abroad.
Firstly I would like to shoot down this false notion that this is a retaliatory measure dreamed in response to the US passage of the Magnitsky Act. While the passage may have been the final straw on a number of issues requiring the adoption ban existed prior to the ban. The law was first considered when an eight year old boy was sent without a guardian by his adoptive bother Torry Hansen on a plane to Moscow with a letter essentially stating 'return to sender'.
This was hardly the first time calls to ban adoptions were made however given the tragic and often fatal consequences of the simple fact America does little to ensure that adoptive parents actually care for the children they adopt. Nathaniel Craver (born Ivan Skorobogatov) was beaten to death, suffering more than 80 wounds at the age of seven, by his adoptive American parents the same year as Torry Hansen perceived her adoptive son to be some sort of doll she could return to the toy store. Anton Fomin, 9, died in a fire after being left alone at home by his adopted parrents.
The year 2012 was not unique when it comes to irresponsible Americans being given charge of Russians. In 2011, after these two scandals an American adoptive father was accused of raping his adoptive special needs daughter (bringing into question whether even the sick among Russia's children benefit from adoption). He attempted to claim it was consensual and the girl was of legal age. In 2010, Edelwina and Steven Leschinsky were convicted of physical abuse of their 3 adopted pre-teen daughters. In 2008 Chase Harrison (Dmitry Yakovlev) died of heat exposure when left for hours in a car while his adoptive father was at work. In 2003 6 year old Alexer Pavlis was beaten to death by his adopted mother. In 2005 Isaac Dykstra, 1 ½ years old, died while in the care of his adoptive father. Also in 2005 Peggy Hilt, an alcoholic, beat to death her daughter Nina who had been adopted from Russia.
Not all the tragedies in adoption of Russian children has resulted in death however. Mariya Yashenkova was sexually abused for years, and the abused was recorded in child pornography. In 2005, after pouring acid on his adopted Russian twins, Jorge Barahona was found to have been sexually abusing them for years. In 2003 Marian and John DiMarias, a protestant couple who'd adopted many children including children from Russia, were found guilty of sexually abusing them. In 2006 Jane and Timothy Cochran were found guilty of physically abusing the 4 year old boy they'd adopted from Russia.
This is a small sampling of these cases of which several occur annually, and not simply to Russian adopted Children. The American adoption system is broken, and does nothing to ensure adopted children are looked after by responsible parents. Does anyone still feel that the adoption ban is 'a politically motivated retaliation'? Why would any effective leadership in Russia, year after year hearing of similar cases of abuse, sexual abuse, and death of it's children, in the midst of a population crisis continue to cooperate with a nation that clearly does not take adoption seriously?
Another criticism opponents of the law allege is that handicapped children will receive better care abroad than in Russia. Firstly let me note many of the abused children above suffered handicaps. That aside, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has suggested the law will be modified to make exceptions for the handicapped. Further during discussion of the law, President Putin has also mentioned plans to improve orphanages, including disabled children orphanages, and promote adoptions within Russia, The adoption ban is clearly part of a multi-faceted approach to address the tremendous national issue of population decline in Russia.
Does the law fall short? Yes it begins to correct a long-standing problem both regarding the Russian population, as well as the treatment of adopted Russians. The government should also however be working the Church to encourage its involvement in orphanages, even while most monasteries do care for at least a handful of orphans the numbers are far below those they cared for prior to the Bolshevik Occupation. While there's been promises to increase domestic adoptions, and improve orphanages, the government has yet to pass serious legislation to accomplish this.
All of this said, noting that there are more steps that need to be undertaken to fix the problems at hand one this is for sure; placing desperately needed Russian children in the hands of a foreign nation which for decades has shown careless disregard for overseeing the care of adopted children IS NOT THE ANSWER. The west can pay students to protests the ban on the streets as much as it likes but it will not change the fact that America is the guilty party here; rife with cases of abuse in an adoption system that is ambivalent to the care of adopted children. While there are stories of happily adopted children certainly these are due to responsible parents not the careless American adoption system. It is because of that system that this ban is necessary and no amount of propaganda involving political accusations, or attempting to induce tears for disabled children changes the fact that this law is absolutely necessary and has been for over a decade.
George Edward Green III has been a journalist since 1997, and written for several Technology, Financial, and Political Publications, and lives near L'viv Ukraine..