Progress on adoptions queried

Moscow 27 December 2013

Specialists and NGOs working with parentless children consider talk of an ‘unprecedented growth’ in the number of Russians taking children into their own families to be premature


When reviewing last year, presidential ombudsman for children’s rights Pavel Astakhov said that the number of Russians taking children into their own family had grown by 6.7% in comparison with the previous year. He said this was ‘unprecedented’ and showed that Russia was coping with adoption without foreigners.

Specialists in the field and NGOs working in the field think such a conclusion to be premature. ‘These figures don’t amount to much. We are actually talking about hundreds and thousands of children living in institutions. On top of that, the statistics show that in 2012  there were fewer adoptions that in 2011 so that if the number grew by 6.7%, it can be said only that we have returned to the level of 2011’, said the president of the Orphans Aid Foundation, Elena Alshanskaya.

Statistics on the adoption site, «Усыновите.ру» (Adopt) show that 58,800 children were placed with Russian families in 2012, and in 2011, 67,500.

Ms Alshanskaya added that: ‘I agree that we could get on top of the problem of parentless children which has absolutely nothing to do with the low level of adoptions. It is connected with the number of children coming into the system, that is with the number of people whose parental rights are removed and of families that have problems’.

Boris Altshuler, chair of Pravo Rebenka (Children’s Rights) said that the official statistics appear only in March but even now it was possible to say that 6.7% ‘was not a particularly meaningful figure’.

Mr Astakhov said that early in 2014 he would be leading a delegation from Russia to the USA (which would include representatives of the public prosecutor’s office, the investigative committee, the ministry of the interior, and the ministry of education and science) to discuss further co-operation with regard to the adoption of Russian children. It was intended to discuss a wide range of questions with the State Department, including matters raised by the prosecutor and the investigative committee concerning criminal cases featuring children who had been killed or otherwise been ill-treated and the problem of the exploitation of children on the so-called internet exchange.

Since the enactment of the ‘Dima Yakovlev’ Law introducing a total embargo on the adoption of Russian orphans by American families a whole year has elapsed. Specialists have also presented their views in the media. Maria Esmont, special correspondent of  New Times, observed that that year had proved inadequate for the purpose of transferring over 200 parentless children from ‘the American list’ to Russian families. 95 of them continued to live in orphanages and some children with disabilities had been transferred to specialised institutions for those with severe leaning difficulties, according to the newspaper Vedomosti. The information manager of the charity ‘Daunsaid’ (Downside) said that the problem of parentless children in Russia would not be resolved in the near future, observing for example that: ‘Mr Astakhov maintains that “the problem could be resolved within seven to eight years” because ”people are queuing up take children. On1 January 2013 almost 20,000 Russians wanted to take the children into their families”. But it is not difficult to find official statistics showing that there are 106,210 children in Russian orphanages. What is stopping the 20,000 citizens taking on at least 20,000 children?’

‘Can it be that these people exist only on paper and in the speeches of the ombudsman?’ asks newspaper Argumenty i Facty’s Yulia Kolesnichenko.

Author: Yulia Vyatnika


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