Carroll Twp. boy's death stirs U.S.-Russia tension

Date: 2010-03-08
Source: York dispatch

ELIZABETH EVANS The York Dispatch

Nathaniel Craver, left, and his twin sister, Elizabeth, were born in Russia and adopted by a Carroll Township couple. The adoptive parents are accused of killing Nathaniel. (Courtesy of ITAR-TASS News Agency of Russia)

Carroll Twp. couple charged in child's deathIf the parents of 7-year-old Nathaniel Craver are found guilty of killing him, he will become the 16th Russian-born child to be slain by his adopted U.S. parents in the past 15 years, a federal official said.
Fred Lash, press officer for the U.S. Department of State, said his agency was "deeply grieved" to learn of Nathaniel's death.

Born Ivan Skorobogatov in Russia's Chelyabinsk region, Nathaniel was adopted and renamed by Michael J. and Nanette L. Craver in 2003, according to the ITAR-TASS News Agency of Russia.

"The United States shares with Russia an abhorrence of child abuse," Lash said, which is one reason "extensive" home-study checks and criminal-background checks are required.

"We also recognize the value of post-placement reporting, which Russia requires," he said.

Lash said U.S. officials "want to continue to work with Russia" to keep Russian-born adopted children safe.

"We share a responsibility to ensure their welfare," he said. "They are a bridge between our countries."

Lash noted that a "disproportionate share" of problematic cases in international adoptions have involved independent adoptions, in which the adoptive parents did not employ the services of an accredited international adoption agency.

He said he does not know whether the Cravers went through an accredited international adoption agency.

The Cravers, of 36 Blair Mountain Road in Carroll Township, remain in York County Prison without bail, charged with homicide, child endangerment and criminal conspiracy.

Russian response: On Thursday, the Russian Embassy presented a letter to the U.S. Department of State, accusing the United States of violating "bilateral consular convention and international legal norms" by failing to notify Russian authorities of Nathaniel's death, according to Andrei Sitov, Washington, D.C., bureau chief for TASS.

The Russian Embassy demanded information about the case and indicated Russian representatives will attend the Cravers' trial and look after the interests of his twin sister, Elizabeth, Sitov said.

The girl is in a safe place and is being well cared for, York County officials said.

There have been calls by Russian officials to freeze adoptions to the United States, and some diplomats say there should be serious reconsideration in allowing adoptions to this country, Sitov said. Some diplomats have called for a formal U.S.-Russian treaty on adoptions, he said.

"Officials in the twins' home city of Chelyabinsk want the little girl returned," Sitov said.

-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at levans@yorkdispatch.com, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.

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