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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Shut-Down in Russian Adoptions?

Folks, it’s looking worse.  I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but it is what it is.  Every other minute, Comrade Astakhov (RF Children’s Rights Ombudsman) comes up with a reason to halt all adoptions to American families.

His latest stalling strategy involves a Russian-American woman and her American husband.  Turns out that they are living in Russia at this time and she undertook twin babies’ adoption as a “Russian”, neglecting to report that she also held American citizenship.  She technically had every right to adopt as a Russian, as long as she is presently living there for a certain number of years and not simply flying in to adopt.  Yet it appears that the adoption is only six months old, and she possibly did not report that she was:  a) married,  b) to a foreigner, and c) oh yes, the babies were recently abandoned in a St. Petersburg custodial organization’s building.

If the couple tried to misrepresent themselves, that deserves investigation.  How in the world they could jump through all of the official hoops and paperwork necessary for adoption, along with appearing before a judge in a Russian court of law, and no one knew the most basic facts of the case is beyond me.  That speaks to some officials’ incompetencies if that’s truly the case.

Let’s be absolutely clear.  Russians enjoy bolshoi benefits:  adoption is free, and usually includes a hefty stipend to the adoptive family.  If you’re a Russian who’s adopting, as opposed to an American, you can save maybe $50,000 in costs, and actually make $10,000 – $15,000 in payouts from the government if you play your cards right.

According to Russia Today, the Russians are now claiming that Americans receive substantial tax benefits and other bonuses that any adoptive parent knows is but a drop in the bucket compared to the staggering costs of international adoption.  Many adoptive families take out loans and live well below their previous standard of living.  But the Russians claim exactly the opposite.

So in their minds, this lady was looking to profit from her 15-month-old twins, adopted last October.  After six months of living in Russia, it’s alleged that she was seeking to bring them to the U.S. and that’s when officials found out that she was really also an American citizen.  Legal problems ensued and she is now wanted by Russian authorities.  It is believed that her husband was either not aware of, or not involved in, the adoption.  What?!

It just gets curiouser and curiouser….

The abandoned babies, left with a note stating that the mother did not want them any longer, were not harmed in any way.  They were left inside a building, seated in their double stroller, according to reports.

Not good.  Terrible.  Not a great thing to do.  But once again we have an “American”, although she’s actually Russian first and foremost, supposedly harming Russian children.

Yet….  that and much worse happens in Russia every day.  To the tune of 2,000 children killed by domestic abuse and neglect each year.  Never mind about them.  Let one “American” dare to harm a Russian child, and then everything breaks loose.

Rage.  Indignation.  Political posturing.

Hey, Astakhov!  The elections are over.  Putin declared himself the winner after 20% of the vote had been counted.  Peasants and party apparatchiks were followed by observers who monitored their movements from polling site to polling site as the same citizens voted repeatedly.  Any local journalists reporting such things were liable to end up dead, so it was mostly the foreign press relating the voting irregularities.

There we have abuse, fraud, and murder occurring on a widescale basis in Russia, but should ONE American (Russian-American) do ONE untoward thing toward a Russian, watch out-!  Apparently, Russian-on-Russian crime is perfectly acceptable, but American-on-Russian crime causes them to blow a gasket.

Pavel Astakhov, the bureaucrat with the bees in his bonnet, will not stop until Russia ratifies the adoption treaty with the U.S.  This is the agreement that allows Russia to monitor its country’s children, even when they are at home in America, and therefore, U.S. citizens, as well.

Okay… let’s focus here:  RUSSIA.  Until RUSSIA ratifies the agreement.  Back in July 2011, America and Russia already signed it.  So why should all adoptions cease until Russia ratifies it?

The Duma (Russia’s Parliament) needs to do whatever it is they’re supposed to do:  read the bill, vote on the bill, have a shashlik supper and discuss the bill.  That’s not an American issue.  The Amerikanskii futbol is on your side of the field, Astakhov.

Now, RiaNovosti reports one of Putin’s first statements as the “new” (recycled?) president –elect of the Russian Federation had to do with… foreign adoptions!  Not the economy, not unrest in the streets, not fraud at every level of government, but… the evil of foreign adoptions.

“We should try to ensure that most [Russian] children find their families here in Russia,” Putin told a government meeting in Moscow on March 7th. “Foreign adoptions should become a rare exception, a last resort.”

Relevant government bodies should promptly react to any cases of mistreatment of such children, he said, adding that children whose rights have been seriously violated should be given to other families or returned to Russia.

RETURNED TO RUSSIA???  Isn’t this what got Americans into hot water two years ago when a single woman returned her allegedly violent and dangerous 7-year-old son, Artyom Savelyev / Justin Hansen, to Moscow?  How dare she?! they raged.  The nerve!

And now prime minister and president-elect Vladimir Putin suggests the kids just be returned.  Somebody’s got to sort out this double-speak, and speaking Russian has nothing to do with it.  Sounds crazy in any language.  Believe me, if you send out a press release with an exact address, you’ll have parents willing to send their kids back, if you’re serious.  But you have to make up your mind.

Either let Americans adopt and stop with the more- more- more requirements.  Or else shut the whole thing down.

Either allow adoptive parents who have found that their Russian children have severe mental and psychological issues to return them to Russia, or don’t.  But make up your mind.

At the turn of the year, a new American ambassador arrived in Moscow.  U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul appears capable and knowledgeable in his short and upbeat introductory video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux0cPaLxR78.   How he’s going to handle this political hot potato of adoptions stymied-in-progress is anyone’s guess.

For now, adoptive families-to-be suffer from cancelled trips and shattered dreams.  The children wait for those who will never come and get them.

Pray for all those involved in this debacle, and let’s do our parts in getting out the word that there are plenty of normal, happy, well-adjusted American families with Russian children that are not “in this for the money”.  (Money?  What money?  Would someone please tell me where is this supposed money that adoptive families make from adoption?  After four children, you would think I might know something about this….)

In the meantime, I would urge caution for anyone contemplating adopting from Russia.  This is not a good time.  Let’s hope and pray that it all blows over, but it’s not looking that way.  By a long shot.  Be prepared to possibly lose a lot of time, money, and sleep.

Stay tuned as developments continue.  We’re here for you.



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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Phyllis says:

    Our friend, Alex, had mentioned some of this when he was here last month. So horrible for all the kids that desperately need families. Very many interesting points were made in your post. Thank you so much for your insight. I might link this to my facebook (and almost dormant blog) if you don’t mind.

    • avatar admin says:

      No problem, Phyllis. The better informed we are, and seeing it from a variety of perspectives might help. Our family got stuck in a variety of shut-downs, and closures, and reaccreditations for our second son, and I know how frustrating it can be. If people don’t have a specific child at this point, it might be better to go elsewhere (Ukraine, etc.).

  2. avatar Greg says:

    This is so disappointing. Readers, please consider Ukraine if the turmoil in Russia has impacted you. We adopted a 14 year old girl from Ukraine over a year ago. The process went smoothly even when you consider that she was born in Russia and we had to have someone go to Russia to get her birth certificate changed after the adoption. The country is safe to travel in. They are generally accepting of Americans and you can work directly with your facilitator and avoid paying an agency. I’d be happy to recommend a facilitator or I know there are other parents that have adopted from Ukraine that read this blog and I am sure they would have a resource for you as well.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, Greg. It used to be that we all thought Russia was great. A couple of trips, over and out. Ukraine was nuts–six weeks away from home/work?! Who could do that? Now it’s sounding like a weekend getaway, lol.

      Readers, check out our recent post on Ukraine– you can use the “search” function in the upper right corner to find it or any other topic of interest here.

  3. avatar Marie J says:

    Your article was very informative. We were about to sign a contract with an agency and now this! Ugh… Our hearts are broken…. we are waiting for now. We stopped just 2 days ago when we read what Putin had said “a rare, last resort.” So sad for families like ours that are unable to children & even more saddening for those children that may never have a family.

    • avatar admin says:

      Those of us who have been around Russian adoption for some years now have experienced this in the past. Will it blow over again? Maybe. A lot of what “official Russia” says is rhetoric at times, other times it’s very real. Stay strong, Marie, your children will come, whether this way or another. It makes me mad when agencies are still selling the idea of Russia when many regions are closed. Keep your ears open and listen to what other adoptive families’ recent experiences have been. Things can change very rapidly. Don’t give up hope!

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