Responsibility of international adoption agencies for the deaths of Russian children in US families?
The press office of the procurator general in the Russian Federation says that he is looking into the question of instituting criminal proceedings in relation to the death of a seven year old who had been adopted by an American couple. He is at the same time looking into all the case material and the legality of the procedure followed.
The office of the presidential ombudsman for children’s rights has told ASI that 16 children adopted in Russia have died in the USA since 1996. However, it added that over a period of fifteen years thirty children in foster families in Russia have died in cases where the parents were at fault. This does not include adopted children. It is possible to avoid such cases where foreign adoptions are concerned given high quality selection procedures for prospective adoptive parents and (post adoption) oversight.
So far according to the ombudsman not one international agency has had its accreditation withdrawn because of exercising inadequate supervision over the children in relation to the deaths of young Russians in the USA. The reports on the seven year old mentioned above did not include the required information when the child was suffering violent treatment.
The ombudsman’s office emphasised that the problem was a shared, international one. The two countries should reach an agreement as to how control over adopted children in the USA might be exercised. The options are that the two states agree on a way forward or that Russia becomes a party to the Hague Convention on Adoption, which the USA has already ratified.
In another USA case the adoptive parent was acquitted there but the RF procurator general’s investigative committee found that there had been breaches of Russian law on the part of the RF federal bureau for socio-medical examinations which had examined the adoptive couple. The procurator general has been asked to look into the way the bureau has been operating and to take appropriate legal measures.
The ombudsman is in touch with the director of the State Department’s official dealing with children’s affairs. He has asked for a report on the steps that were taken to investigate the tragedy and recalled their agreement to co-operate on resolving a systematic problem despite their existing differences on the legal position. At a meeting in Washington with American opposite numbers the ombudsman had suggested resolving their problem by means of a bilateral agreement. The Americans saw that as a lengthy and complicated process although the USA has already signed such an agreement with Vietnam.
ASI 8 March 2010