“We don’t know all cases of Russian child abuse abroad” – Ombudsman

Date: 2011-01-28
Jan 28, 2011 15:14 Moscow Time

Russia’s Children’s Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov has called for a halt to adoptions of this country’s children by foreign families until bilateral agreements to regulate adoptions are signed.

Without such bilateral agreements Russia is unable to lok after the Russian children adopted by foreigners and protect them from abuse.

Russia and the US have a 16-year history of international adoption and during this time more than 600,000 Russian children have found a new family in the US.  However the cases of abuse and mistreatment of Russian children in the US adoptive families has become a regular thing. 

The last scandal, which added fuel to the legal disputes, was the case of 7-year old Daniil Boukharov. Adopted by Gary and Jessica Bigley, the boy was forced to drink Tabasco sauce as a disciplinary measure. And this is not the most terrifying story, Astakhov says.

In the US 17 children have been killed by their adoptive parents. The law of large numbers can’t be applied here with 600,000 being adopted and only several killed. No! The US ambassador in Russia John Beyrle said that even one case is more than enough for Russia to act the way it is acting now. I agree with him. We do not have such problems with other countries, only with the US.  Moreover, we do not know about all the cases. We have learned there is a ranch where adopted Russian children rejected by their US parents are sent to. And nobody tells us about it. That’s a fact – we do not know what is going on with more than 400 children because the primary adoption was cancelled and after that the child “got lost”.

As at now, only Ireland has officially refused to sign a bilateral agreement on child adoption with Russia and adopt Russian children. France, Great Britain, Finland and Spain are ready to sign such agreements.  But until the agreements are signed, it is necessary to halt the adoption and make the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, introduce amendments to the Russian Family Code, Pavel Astakhov says.

Today it is necessary to add new provisions to the Family Code to stipulate that only children who were not adopted in Russia may be put up for international adoption. But this should be predicated on the relevant bilateral agreement being in place.

The Children’s rights ombudsman admits that it is impossible to now ban the international adoption of Russian children. Though the law provides  for such an option there is a powerful international lobby, making big money on protecting international adoption, which is a very profitable business. For example in the US, the services for finding an adopted child in Russia costs between $ 50,000 and $70,000.