Russian authorities advise on ending independent adoptions of Russian children
Of 18 Russian children who have died after being adopted by foreigners since 1996, one lived in Canada and the rest had all been adopted by US citizens. This statistic was cited by the Director of the Department for State Policy on Child-raising, Further Education, and Social Protection of Children of the Russian Ministry of Education and Science, Alina Levitskaya, during a video conference between Moscow and Washington on adoptions of Russian children by foreigners: “Are they saved or in danger?”. Levitskaya said that more Russian orphans are adopted by Americans than by anyone else – 1,432 in 2009. Spain is in second place, with 826 children adopted, and Italy third, with 745 adoptions. In total in 2009, 3,800 Russian children went to new families in 15 countries through international adoptions. A further 9,500 children were adopted inside Russia. Over the past 4 years, about 100,000 Russian children were found new families, while another 138,000 still live in children’s homes around Russia.
Levitskaya stressed that finding places in families in Russia for children is the priority. But no-one advocates a complete stop to international adoptions. In answer to a question from Washington on this, arising from media reports, citing the Presidential Ombudsman on Children’s Rights, Pavel Astakhov, the Chairman of the Duma Committee on Families, Women and Children, Elena Misulina, said that for this to happen new legislation would be needed. So far no such proposal exists. On the contrary, Leviskaya said that the US and Russian authorities are planning to sign a bilateral agreement on cooperation on the issue. In the middle of June, representatives of the two countries are to meet to discuss practical aspects of such adoptions. Chuck Johnson, director of a programme for preparing parents for adoption at the US National Council on Adoptions, confirmed this. The Russian side is most concerned about the safety of adopted children. Despite the careful steps taken to prepare parents for adoption, tragedies do happen, so new methods need to be developed to ensure the child adapts to its new family. Problems most often arise in the case of independent adoptions, which constitute a third of the total, so the Russian government is thinking of authorising adoptions only when an accredited US agency is involved. Additionally, they propose that the first welfare report on the child should be provided after three, rather than six months, as happens at present.