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FAQs About Putin & the Anti-Adoption Law

coverAs in all cases of abuse, there is the tendency to blame the victim.  What’s puzzling is why adoptive families would believe that they, or their like, have anything to do with President Putin’s recent signing of the child-abusive, anti-American adoption law.  Did we”make” the Russian Federation do this because we were not good boys and girls?

Au contraire.  Let’s take a look at some Frequently-Asked Questions concerning the issues surrounding Russian-American adoption.

1.  All news outlets and comments of Russian politicians, themselves, have linkedRussianOrphans the Magnitsky Act, criticizing Russian human rights abuses, with their anti-American adoption legislation.  The immoral nature of linking legislation involving helpless children with inter-country disputes led to protests in the streets and adoptive parents wondering,  “Why?”

2.  Trying to associate a later event, namely, a Russian consular official trying to gain access to visit a Russian adoptee allegedly being abused in Florida is simply tagging on an incident after the legislation had already been introduced into the Russian Duma.  This is what we call “fanning the flames of hysteria” and cannot be connected if one is sticking to the facts of the case.

russian-orphans_full_6003.  In the past 20 years, 19 Russian adopted children have died in American homes.   Let’s take ONE YEAR of deaths in RUSSIAN adoptive homes:  during 2006, 1220 children died.  That’s MORE than 19 Russian adoptive children dying in Russia EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.  Where is the outrage?  I have written about this in the past.

4.  The case of Dima Yakovlev, the Virginia toddler who was accidentally left in russian-orphans3the car in the summertime by his adoptive father, is the case after which this anti-adoption law was named.  What a shame.  I do not believe that the parents in that case intended to kill their child, not for an instant.  But it was horrible, and criminal, nonetheless.

Shall we discuss the extremely horrific abuse cases in Russia, ten times more intentional and abusive than an overheated car?  Starvation, inflicting burns, rumored organ-selling, and drowning all come to mind.

images5.  There is a sense that the Russian ruling class lacks info about Russian-American adopted children, that we must inform them about how well-adjusted and loved the Russian children are in the U.S.  Yet, these are Duma officials and executive-level elected officials who would have access to the post-placement reports submitted at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years after adoption.  The reports outline the children’s health, medical appointments, daily routine, educational progress, adjustment to and bonding with the adoptive family, cultural events, and living conditions.  About a dozen full-color, captioned photos of the child accompany each report, depicting the child at home, at outside activities, with their family, with friends, you name it.

Lack of information is not the issue.  It  is that these officials DO NOT CARE about 51245d6cc94cc3bfe3b5fe6fe0cac97borphans.  Lev Ponomarev, a prominent Russian human rights advocate, has suggested that these Duma deputies take into their homes the children alienated from American families due to their law.  But he notes that this will never happen to even one orphaned child.

6.  Artyom Saviliev, a 7-year-old, out-of-control, Russian child adopted to America was returned to Moscow in a well-publicized case in April 2010.  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the boy’s abrupt return “a monstrous deed.”  But what was Russia carefully omitting from this story?

Russian-orphansThe fact that each year, THOUSANDS of Russian children, adopted in RUSSIA, are either voluntarily or forcibly returned to orphanages.  According to Russian sociologists, during 2008 more than 6,000 children were returned to orphanages or shelters. During 2009, that number would double.

The official Ministry of Education and Science statistics did not match those numbers, interestingly enough.  In 2008, Russia had to terminate 1,216 cases of adoptions, said Alina Levitskaya, the Director of State Politics Department in the sphere of education and social protection of children. All together there were over 3,000 cases of returned children, whether voluntarily or forcibly, still half the number that sociologists clearly reported.

No matter how many thousands of children are returned by Russians to their russian-orphanage-lugaorphanages each year, they far exceed the ONE landmark returnee from America.  One.  Versus thousands each year.

7.   Since the stipend system came into being in Russia, adoptions have decreased, while the number of orphans entering the system have increased.  Foster care, called “guardianship” in Russia, pays families much more than actual adoption, yet still, between the seminal years 2008 and 2009, even foster families dropped in numbers from the initial thrill of 75,000 to 38,000 the next year.  Families were learning that, despite the attractive financial incentives (often a cash payment of $10,000 plus monthly stipends), taking in an orphan was not as easy as it sounded.  No matter what the payments, Russians will not make up for Americans squeezed out of the equation.

1356715661054.cached8.   Abusive behavior is not “caused” by victims.  However President Putin chooses to punish helpless orphans and basically sentence them to further years of loneliness, deprivation, orphanage abuses, and substandard education and life preparation, it is not the orphans’ fault, nor the fault of American adoptive parents.  If we act nicer, try harder, or just sit in a corner and keep quiet, he will not change his mind.  It’s not about us.  It’s about him.  It’s all about him and his paranoid proclamations.

No matter how many broken lives are left in their wake.

 

 

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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Jancee says:

    1. Russia waited until a politically expedient moment to pass a law banning Americans from adopting (tacked on to unrelated legislation). How shocking. It’s not like our politicians EVER tack riders onto unrelated legislation, right? The “bridge to nowhere” in Alaska, anyone?

    2. Yes, linking the legislation to the fact that the US violated the adoption treaty based on the denial of consular access to an abused, Russian-born little boy in Florida may well be “fanning the flames of hysteria”. But it is also a fact – the US violated the adoption treaty first. Fact.

    Actions have consequences. Is it totally unprecedented that Russia would retaliate as a result of the US violating international law (the adoption treaty)?

    3) The number of Russian kids killed in Russia by Russians is irrelevant — anybody can have a kid the “old fashioned” way. A higher level of scrutiny is necessarily imposed on those who adopt. Every single American that adopted a Russian child was required to pass a Homestudy, meet a minimum income threshold, pass multiple security and background checks and submit many reference letters to demonstrate that they are capable of caring for an additional child.

    These supposedly well-screened folks still managed to kill 19 Russian born kids (out of 20,000 adopted Russian kids). That seems like a low number, right? It works out to 95 non-accidental deaths per 100,000.

    The non-accidental death rate for American-born kids in the US is 2 per 100, 000 according to HHS in 2008 (see for yourself at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/resource/child-maltreatment-2008).

    Given that very few kids are adopted (1-2% of the population), most American parents are not required to pass a Homestudy, security clearance, background check, etc to take their kid home from the hospital.

    Thus unscreened American parents somehow manage to non-accidentally kill their kids MUCH less often than supposedly well-screened American adoptive parents of Russian-born kids.

    Is it really a surprise that the Russian government is unhappy about this? Perhaps Russia believes there is room for improvement in the screening of PAPs??

    4) Yes, the adoptive father of little Dima was charged with (but acquitted of) involuntary manslaughter, which is defined as: “The act of unlawfully killing another human being unintentionally. Most unintentional killings are not murder but involuntary manslaughter. The absence of the element of intent is the key distinguishing factor between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. In most states involuntary manslaughter results from an improper use of reasonable care or skill while performing a legal act, or while committing an act that is unlawful but not felonious.”

    To me, leaving a kid to bake in a car sure sounds like “improper use of reasonable care while performing a legal act”. However, there are many cases in which a parent is convicted of involuntary manslaughter for letting their kid bake to death in a car. Killing a kid in this manner is, in the US, sometimes deemed a terrible accident and other times involuntary manslaughter.

    Can you really not see why Russia might be unhappy with the acquittal of Dima’s dad?

    5. Yes, some of those Russian officials may not care about orphans adopted abroad (or domestically) and may elect not to review the ample information in post-placement reports.

    However, there are 400 Russian kids whose American adoptive parents have NOT filed post-placement reports as required by law. As the parents promised to do in Russian court.

    Is Russia not entitled to worry about those 400 kids? Is Russia not allowed to be upset about adoptive parents who failed to follow the law?

    6. The number of Russian adoptive parents who return their adopted Russian-born kids to orphanages is irrelevant – the ban on Americans adopting Russian kids does NOT set out to address this issue.

    7. The stipend available to Russian families is also irrelevant – the ban on Americans adopting Russian kids does NOT set out to address this issue either.

    Russia is, however, taking steps to improve their child welfare system and this should be applauded. Is it happening fast enough?

    No, but neither is much-needed reform to the US foster care system (way too many American kids fall through the cracks in predictable, preventable ways).

    And nobody is suggesting that we let foreigners adopt American foster kids (whose parental rights have been terminated) because foster care reform is not happening fast enough.

    8. Putin is not punishing Russian orphans by refusing to let Americans adopt them. These children can: be adopted domestically, go into domestic guardianship agreements (as you describe) or be adopted by French, English, Canadian, Irish and Dutch citizens. You know, citizens of countries that have not violated their adoption treaties with Russia and whose screening of PAPs process somehow translates into fewer dead Russian-born adoptees (relative to similar kids adopted by Americans).

    Look, I think it’s sad that orphans who’ve met their PAPs who happen to be American may not get adopted to the USA because of this ban. The ban does appear to be retaliation for the Magninty Act. Sad, yes. Unexpected and out of the blue? Not by a long shot.

    Your (and many other bloggers) sense of entitlement is galling — you seem to forget that Russia is not REQUIRED to allow us to adopt their kids. Adopting Russian kids is a PRIVELEDGE, not a right (and Russia is a sovereign nation, entitled to revoke the PRIVELEDGE for any or no reason at all, at any time).

    • avatar admin says:

      Comrade, you’re obviously not reading clearly: we’re talking about Russian children ADOPTED by Russians (#3), not the total number of all children killed by Russian families each year, which would further skyrocket the numbers.

      Unfortunately, none of the numbers are “irrelevant” (#6) if you’ve ever known children “returned” and shuttled back and forth in Russian adoptive/foster families– again beaten, starved, abused for the second or third time. As the parents of several older children taken into custody, we have personal experience in such matters. Clearly, there are thousands of uncontrollable or emotionally imbalanced kids in the Russian system– when one ends up in America and is returned, they pretend like this could never happen.

      Apparently, you know little about the adoption requirements for different nations and the number of years, hoops to jump through, etc., for them to adopt from abroad (#8). Putin has been “punishing Russian orphans” for years, making requirements tougher in ways that do not impact one’s ability to parent. You may be new to the game, but those of us old-timers have been at this for years and observed that the new requirements in terms of paperwork make very little difference in averting disasters.

      This blog has been in existence for years, and has never demanded that ANY nation allow us to adopt. Either you’re not reading clearly or thoroughly. There are Russian press sites that will agree with your views. The other journalists have been gunned down in the streets. You’re not convincing anyone here.

  2. avatar Shelley says:

    Alexandra, you must have a research background. You nail it correctly every time. Thank you for keeping us updated during these turbulent days.

  3. avatar Jeremy says:

    Our family appreciates your insights and analysis. Please continue bringing us news. Many have their own agenda (agencies for instance) and it is difficult at times to sift through. Keep up the good work. Jeremy

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