A ban on the adoption of Russian orphans by U.S. citizens can become one of the positive consequences of the notorious Magnitsky Act. In this case, Russia will finally cease to give away, or rather sell orphaned children to foreigners. For the time being, Russia remains one of the three donors that supply their children to the international adoption market.
State Duma deputies promised that the second reading of the bill, which will serve as a response to the Magnitsky Act, signed by U.S. authorities, will have a number of significant additions. In particular, U.S. citizens will no longer be allowed to adopt Russian children.
One of the reasons for this move is the fact that the agreement signed last year in June between the U.S. and Russia on cooperation in the field of adoption is practically not working. It was assumed that the Russian side would control the lives of its young citizens in foster American families. It does not happen still. Russia’s Consular services learn about new tragedy that occurs to an adopted child, when the case already comes to court. Moreover, most sentences brought down against foster parents for abusing orphans are extremely soft and are often limited to suspended punishment.
It just so happens that one can abuse and even kill adoptive Russian children practically without impunity. It is not about the number of killed orphans (currently there are 19 victims) – with such indifference from justice, this situation will repeat over and over again.
Meanwhile, U.S. citizens like to adopt Russian orphans. Last year, 970 Russian children (according to the U.S. Department of Intercountry Adoption) were taken to the United States. More arrived only from China (2,589) and Ethiopia (1,727). If we take the statistics for the last 12 years, Russia takes the second place – 45,112 children. These are only official numbers. The real numbers may be much larger.
This is an outrageous situation, isn’t it? On the one hand, Russian officials declare the need for urgent measures to save the demographic situation in the country. On the other hand, they let children to be sent abroad. To be more precise, they let children to be sold: foreign adoptions have long been a profitable business in Russia.
The website of the U.S. Department for Adoption contains specific amounts, which American parents pay for the right to adopt an orphan. In China, it is 15,930 dollars, in Poland – 17,375, in Moldova – 23,365. Interestingly, there is no information about Russia. The price for adopting a Russian child is unofficial, and it may reach 25,000 dollars.
There are many myths around the foreign adoption of Russian orphans. The main one of them says that foreigners adopt deeply sick children, who had been abandoned by their biological parents. Indeed, to give a child to foreign adopters, five Russian families have to refuse from this child first. How can one collect so many refusals from a 12-month-old baby, for example?
The second myth says that foreigners allegedly adopt “grown up” children, nearly teenagers. According to U.S. authorities, more than 60 percent of adopted children are orphans from one year to two years of age. The group of children from 3 to 4 years of age comes next. Teenagers account for only 4 percent of the total number of adoptions.
Meanwhile, small children of up to two years are in high demand among Russian adopters. In some regions, parents even line up for small children. However, giving such a child to foreigners is a piece of cake. It is enough to “diagnose” the child with as many horrible diseases as possible and mislead potential Russian parents.
Lawyer Anton Zharov, who teaches at the school of adoptive parents of charity fund “Family,” described some of such stories on his blog. A Russian couple wanted to adopt a three-month-old baby. The adoptive parents were horrified to find out the diagnoses – HIV and hepatitis – but they decided to proceed with the adoption because they loved the baby. Blood tests revealed a while later that the baby was healthy. A nurse later told the parents that the baby was supposed to be adopted by foreign parents.
“I am convinced that foreign adoptions cause serious harm to domestic adoptions,” the director of charity fund “Family” Mikhail Pimenov said. If a child with many diagnoses fails to be attached to foreign nationals, the child will have to live with them further on. For an orphan, even a wrong diagnosis is like real sentence that can not be canceled. The kids, whom foreign parents adopt, miraculously “recover” afterwards.
Incidentally, there is a direct relationship between the growth of foreign adoptions and high abandonment in some regions of Russia. In the regions, where local administrations do not do anything to reduce the number of children in orphanages or help troubled families, foreign adoptive parents are always welcome.
The average percentage of foreign adoptions in Russia, according to experts, makes up 31.43 percent (3,400 children were adopted in 2011, whereas Russian parents adopted 7,416). In some regions, the index makes up 79.5 percent (the Khabarovsk region), and 60 percent (the Ural region). In one year, the Khabarovsk region showed an increase of almost 20 percent.
As many as 105,688 Russian children are being raised in organizations today. This accounts for 16 percent of the total number of orphans in the country. Another 20 percent were adopted. The remaining 65 percent are in the custody of their relatives.