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Post Russia's Anti-Adoption Law; View from a US Diplomatic Corps Officer
Created by John Eipper on 01/17/13 5:34 AM

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Russia's Anti-Adoption Law; View from a US Diplomatic Corps Officer (Randy Black, USA, 01/17/13 5:34 am)

After Gilbert Doctorow's spirited back-and-forth discussions with me and other WAISers regarding adoptions by Americans of Russian orphans, I wrote to a former US Diplomatic Corps friend whom I've known since 1993 (see various recent posts from Gilbert, me, Istvan Simon, Cameron Sawyer, and others). My friend arrived in Moscow straight out of college the prior year, and worked her way up in various sections of our Embassy.

By the following year, she had a high level of responsibility and expertise at our embassy across a range of adoption issues. I shared many a lunch with her at the Embassy cafeteria, where I enjoyed the only taco salad in Moscow every other Thursday for more than a year during 1994-1995.

After her years at the embassy, she worked additional years in the nuclear disarmament project originated by the Nunn-Lugar initiative, aka the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program.

Her Russian is at the native-speaker level, her security clearance at the highest levels and her integrity is unquestioned. I sent her Gilbert's and my posts for review and feedback. The following is an abbreviated copy of her email:

Dear Randy,

It is such a pleasure to hear from you! I echo your wishes for a Happy New Year as we begin 2013.

...I was very interested to read both your [WAIS] post and the one from Mr. Doctorow. I have to say that I absolutely agree with you that he is off track when it comes to both "the point and the facts," as you say. Although I believe that he is correct that at some points the severity of illness or handicap was exaggerated in order to qualify some children for adoption (because at one point Russian law forbade the adoption of healthy children to foreign parents).

However, as you point out in your response, I am sure that for every case of exaggerated hydrocephalia that was used to qualify a child for adoption, there is at least one if not more cases where supposedly healthy children had hidden maladies that came to light only later--results of physical and mental abuse, "developmental delays" in a young infant that became severe learning disabilities as they grew, severe diseases that were hidden until the "deal" was done, etc.

Adopting a child anywhere is a game of chance, but of course everything is far more chance-y in Russia. Of course, any child that is removed from a system that turns them out onto the street at the tender age of 16 with no support network or anyone to turn to is infinitely better off if adopted--regardless of the adoptive family's nationality.

If Russia were able to show that the numbers of adoptions of their own so-called orphans have increased so greatly that there is no reason to allow foreigners to adopt, then I would have to say that it is unnecessary to encourage international adoptions.

However, historically and culturally the Russians are not well-disposed towards adoption--and I do not believe that there has been a renaissance of caring and civic duty of such a scale that they are adopting up all of the available needy children!

This is yet another example of how cheap human life is to a certain breed of Russian politician--better they should die in the Motherland than live well in the West is a mindset that is nearly impossible to combat.

These are the same people who still long for the days of Stalin. Well--I think that they are much closer to those glory days of yore than most Westerners recognize.

And using their orphaned children as pawns in this game is just another symptom of what is deeply and un-fixably wrong with that nation!

[...]

All the best - XXXX

JE comments: I thank Randy Black for soliciting this comment. Gilbert Doctorow, I suspect, would say that the note reveals nothing more than the usual US thinking vis à vis Russia, where any articulation of muscular nationalism can only be seen in terms of Stalinism.

What, specifically, is Gilbert's response to the writer's "better [the children] should die in the Motherland than live well in the West" gloss of Russia's anti-adoption law?  Or her suggestion that there would be nothing objectionable in the law, if Russia truly took care of its neediest children?


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  • Changes in Russia's Policy towards Orphans and Adoption (Gilbert Doctorow, Belgium 01/18/13 2:14 AM)
    When commenting the letter sent by a US Diplomatic Corps officer to Randy Black (17 January), JE asked: "What, specifically, is Gilbert's response to the 'better [the children] should die in the Motherland than live well in the West' gloss of Russia's anti-adoption law? Or [the writer's] suggestion that there would be nothing objectionable in the law, if Russia truly took care of its neediest children?"

    My answer is "watch this space." The Duma is now receiving various bills aimed at dealing with the problem of orphans and orphanages in Russia. Wednesday's RBK online news agency reported that one objective of the legislators is to simplify adoption by Russians, which, bystanders say, is presently very bureaucratized and unnecessarily expensive. Another initiative will give children in orphanages preferential admission to all institutions of higher learning in the country.



    Previously the whole question of orphans was left in the dark. Now, thanks to the debates surrounding the anti-Magnitsky bill, the issue is getting focused attention of Russia's legislators and opinion leaders.



    This is a Russian problem which will be solved only when Russians address it.


    Exporting kids abroad is tokenism and unhealthy for the society. As I said previously, there is too much trafficking and profiteering by middlemen, about which the Western press is strangely silent.


    JE comments:  I don't think the press has been silent about the profiteering that goes on with international adoptions.  I've read many bucket-of-tears narratives on the extortion of adoptive parents in Russia--and I've heard a few stories from parents themselves.

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