Adoptive parents in Russia should be required to undergo a psychological assessment

Adoptive parents in Russia should be required to undergo a psychological assessment

An expert explains to the Agency for Social Information (ASI) whether this requirement is justified and whether it could help reduce the number of children sent back to care.



In 2019 the Government Commission on Legislative Activities approved a proposal that potential adoptive parents should undergo a psychological assessment.  This has been reported by Izvestia, quoting Vladimir Gruzdeva, a member of the commission and Chair of the Board of the Russian Association of Lawyers (AYuR).


It is proposed that the motivations of potential guardians will be assessed, with the aim of protecting children and preventing them returning into care.  The proposal also forbids adopting more that one child into a family in a year and establishes a process of support from adoption agencies.

Svetlana Stroganova, programme director of the Our Children foundation told ASI that there was a need for a psychological assessment of adoptive parents.

“The current system requires a potential adoptive parent to gather a pile of documents and demonstrate that they have somewhere to live and an income.  And this is enough to adopt a child.  Whether the family has the psychological resources is not even considered”, said Stroganova.

She said that training providers who offer adoptive parent training give out attendance certificates without an expiry date, but then do no follow-up checks to see whether attendees remember anything after a few years.

However, her concern about the draft law is not that such changes are needed, but about how they would be implemented.  It is not clear what methodology would be used for the psychological assessment, how many specialists would be needed to conduct the assessments, nor how they would be trained.

Stroganova also considers the provision which allows only one child to be adopted in a year to be unnecessarily restrictive.  Although the limitation does not apply to siblings, the capacity of any one family to take on a number of children should be specific to that family’s circumstances.

“This comes back once again to the issue of the quality of the assessment of the potential adopters, the identification of their capabilities, their resources and the risks.  Some may be able to take on two or three children immediately, others, having taken on one, may not be in a position to take on another after one or even three years”, she explained.

Were this restriction to be omitted from the draft, the proposed measures could make a real difference, believes Stroganova.  But for this to happen they need to be effectively implemented, which is what is in doubt.  There may be questions around the financing, and the testing of the chosen methodology, as well as with the lack of input from subject matter experts, including from the CSO sector.

“I think it would have been much better to trial the methodology in a pilot scheme in one region or even just a smaller neighbourhood so that the full costs, risks and so on could be evaluated.  The draft law is an excellent idea.  But as a practitioner working in the field I can see that we are not yet ready to implement this idea properly” concluded Stroganova.




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