The Russian ban on international adoptions to the United States is thought to be by some a political retaliation for an unrelated action by the U.S. The suspicious death of a Russian whistle-blower, Sergei Magnitsky, who was researching corrupt Russian officials, motivated U.S. Congress to support the Magnitsky Bill, which, if passed into law, would prevent the officials associated with the corruption that he uncovered from receiving U.S. visas and freezing any U.S. assets they may have, on grounds of human rights abuses. Allegedly in retaliation, Russian president Putin signed into law a ban on international adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans.
Regardless of the reasons, this has triggered an outcry from the U.S. adoption community. There is no question that those families who are already in the process of adopting from Russia, especially those whose to-be-adopted children have met and bonded with them, must be allowed to finalize their adoptions and bring their children home. That said, various Russian authorities, from visa and passport personnel to judges, have unwittingly stood in the way of these families’ reunification, showing that there is confusion over the application of the ban even within Russia.
However, sugar-coating the situation will not help us help the Russian orphans that many Americans are up in arms about. We have to remember the best interest of the children, and not get caught up in rhetoric that makes it sound as if Americans have a "right to rescue" Russian orphans.
Children belong with their families and cultures of origin whenever this is possible. International adoption, and adoption in general, is often the best solution for a situation that should have been avoided. We cannot, in good conscience, say that we care about children if we do nothing to help their lives remain uninterrupted or to help their families figure out how to care for them. We cannot treat adoption, especially international adoption, as a Band-Aid for a chronic condition.
Yet there seems to be talk that implies that the removal of the children from their native homes is precisely better for them than addressing their needs domestically. At least that is how many Russians appear to interpret the popularity of international adoption of Russian children by American families.
There is nothing inherently better about the United States than Russia. Children grow up and thrive in all sorts of socio-political and economic situations, as long as their basic needs are met and they are loved by their families. Abuse and neglect is not something unique to "foreign countries", thereby necessitating the children's rescue by Americans.
Even within the United States there are children who are removed from their families due to neglect and abuse. Other countries don't seem to be coming here in droves to adopt our waiting children, but I doubt it is because they don't care. Rather, I think they simply want to focus as best as they can on addressing the needs of their own citizens, children included.
That is not to say that I support the Russian ban. In all honesty, my opinion matters little. All I can suggest is to do our best to find some silver lining in this situation. Maybe we can use this fiasco as an opportunity to reassess our approach to international adoption and the needs of orphans abroad. And most importantly, maybe we can come up with creative ways to help them in spite of the obstacle of the adoption ban.
Credits: Karolina Maria
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