Putin says he'll sign ban on US adoptions

2012-12-28T00:00:00Z Putin says he'll sign ban on US adoptionsOlga Khazan The Washington Post Arizona Daily Star
December 28, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will sign a bill barring Americans from adopting Russian children, an apparent retaliation for an American law that places visa and financial sanctions on Russian officials deemed to have been connected with the death of Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky.

The law would mean the approximately 1,000 orphans who find homes in the U.S. each year and the 46 children who are already in the process of being adopted would remain in Russia.

Russia is not alone in its concerns. Other governments have also implemented stricter requirements for foreign adoptions over the past few years after finding that the Western appetite for orphans at best outpaced their supply - and at worst led to widespread fraud.

Countless American and Russian children's advocates have decried the new Russian measure, saying it penalizes 740,000 orphan children in Russia. Only 18,000 Russians are now waiting to adopt a child.

"They are cannibals. They kill the country and they kill the children," Boris L. Altshuler, the chairman of the advocacy group Right of the Child, said of the Russian parliament to the New York Times.

Though the bill is ostensibly a retaliatory measure for the recently-passed American Magnitsky Act, it's not the first time Russian policymakers have raised concerns over adoptions by Americans and other foreigners.

Part of the issue seems to be an embarrassment over Russia's inability to care for all of its orphans.

"It's shameful for Russians to admit that there are around 700,000 orphans in Russia. And of course it's very hard for Russians with the government to say that the country cannot take care of their own children," Natasha Shaginian, a psychiatrist who has worked in Russian orphanages, told PRI.

Several high-profile cases of abuse also haven't helped. Russian policymakers named the bill after a high-profile Russian adoptee, Dima Yakovlev, a toddler who was adopted by a Virginia couple and died after being left in a hot car for nine hours. In 2010, after a 7-year-old Russian boy was returned alone to Moscow by his Tennessean adoptive mother, the outrage was so great that the Russian Foreign Ministry temporarily suspended U.S. adoptions.

"U.S. Mother Returns Adopted Russian Boy Like Pair of Shoes," read a sample Pravda headline at the time.

Overall, Russian officials claim at least 19 Russian children have died while in the care of adoptive parents since the early 1990s.

Analysis

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