Many of you know that Russia stopped US adoptions earlier this year. Like you, I only heard what the media chose to tell us. After attending a lecture at Calvin College by Dr. Becca McBride and speaking with her last week, I now know more of the inside story. Dr. McBride, a professor at Calvin, recently completed her PhD at Vanderbilt University in Political Science. Previously, she received her Masters from Georgetown University in Russian Studies- exploring history, culture, politics, and ethnic issues. She knows more about Putin than he would like her to know! As the mother of three adopted children from Russia, it saddens me greatly that Russian adoptions have stopped. I’ve been there! The orphanages are packed full of abandoned children. Local hospitals are “housing” children waiting for a spot in the orphanage. But my greatest frustration is for the families who were already in the adoption process-some having already met their children- but now cannot continue.
Why were Americans stopped from adopting Russian children? According to McBride, this is a long story with a long history of Putin not wanting Americans to adopt Russian children. He has been making it more and more difficult every year, and the number of adoptions has dropped significantly over the last 10 years. In 2004, there were 5,862 Russian children adopted by US families. By 2008, the number had dropped to 1,857. Last year, in 2012, there were only 749.
As of now, the only adoptions that Russia is processing are those where the family had the court order by Dec. 31, 2012. These families were in the 30 day waiting period between the Russian court hearing (where they were already granted parental rights) and their last trip back to Russia to bring home their child. They had completed the entire adoption process except the final trip home. ALL other adopting families, including those who have paid tens of thousands of dollars and visited their assigned child once or twice, have been stopped. There are over 700 US families in this category. The most disturbing part of this is “the inside scoop”- We’re now learning that the Russian government has been paying Russian families to adopt these specific children, targeting the ones who had already been referred to American families. So now Russia can say, “We’re not processing any new adoptions and the children you are inquiring about have already been adopted.” Absolutely horrifying and devastating for these waiting families.
Here’s a little of the history working backwards.
On December 28, 2012, President Vladimir Putin signed into law Federal Law No. 272-FZ. This law went into effect on January 1, 2013. It bans the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens, bans adoption service providers from assisting U.S. citizens in adopting Russian children, and requires termination of the U.S.-Russia Adoption Agreement.
On December 14, 2012 “President Obama signed the Magnitskiy Act which essentially banned Russians who were accused of human rights abuses from owning property in the US and made it harder for them to get visas. Though the Russian Government initially said that the Russian adoption ban was not related to the Magnitskiy Act, more recent interviews with Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, have made an explicit connection between the two.”(McBride)
On July 28, 2012, Putin signed the Bilateral Adoption Agreement between Russia and the US. The purpose of this agreement was to “promote stronger safeguards for adoptive children and parents in the intercountry adoption process. This agreement allowed the Russian government to establish several new requirements for adoption service providers. Included in this was a requirement that only adoption agencies authorized by the Russian government would be able to operate in Russia and improved post-adoption reporting and monitoring.” (US State Dept on Intercountry Adoption) Interesting that this agreement had a provision that if either country wanted to exit the agreement, there had to be a one year waiting period. So when Russia passed the law in Dec 2012, the bilateral treaty meant that there must be a one year waiting period until it went into effect. They obviously broke their own agreement.
On January 1, 2012, the Russian Family Code was amended to increase the amount of time, and possibly travel, required by US families to complete the adoption process.
This makes me angry. The orphans are the ones suffering at the hands of a political leader. I’d like to hear your comments.