Russia Votes to Ban All Adoptions by Americans

December 19, 2012

MOSCOW — The Russian Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to prohibit the adoption of Russian children by American citizens. The move was in retaliation for a law signed by President Obama last week that seeks to punish Russian citizens who are accused of violating human rights.

The vote in the State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, was 400 to 4, with 2 abstentions. The lawmakers’ enthusiasm for the measure showed the opening of a rare split at the highest levels of the Russian government. Several senior officials had spoken out against the adoption ban, including some — like the foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov — who are known for hawkish views on dealing with the United States.

President Vladimir V. Putin has said that Russia must respond to the American law, but has not yet expressed his view on banning adoptions outright. The bill needs his signature to become law, and he will have a great deal of sway over the final version that emerges from Parliament.

Since returning to the presidency in May, Mr. Putin has used populist, and sometimes reactionary, legislation by the Duma to drive much of his agenda and to suppress political dissent. The proposed adoption ban now presents an interesting test for him.

If Mr. Putin allows it to go forward, it would be the most forceful anti-American action of his new term, undoing a bilateral agreement on international adoptions that was ratified just this year and crushing the aspirations of thousands of Americans hoping to adopt Russian orphans. More than 45,000 such adoptions have taken place since 1999.

On the other hand, if Mr. Putin maneuvers to block the measure, he would be at odds with United Russia, the party that nominated him for president and has dutifully carried out his legislative line.

On Wednesday the Kremlin said the Duma’s efforts reflected the anger of rank-and-file lawmakers over the American law.

“This harsh and emotional reaction of Russian members of Parliament is well understandable,” Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, told Russian news agencies. “Certainly, the executive branch’s policy is more restrained. But taking into account the well-known anti-Russian manifestations, Russian President Vladimir Putin understands the Russian lawmakers’ position.”

Indeed, anger pervaded the brief legislative debate on Wednesday. “We most love our country and not just play into the hands of the Americans, who will just take what they want,” said Sergei N. Reshulsky of the Communist Party, who voted for the bill.

The State Department did not immediately respond to the action by the Duma, but a spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, took note of prior cooperation on international adoptions.

“We have worked hard with Russia to address past problems through our new adoption agreement, which the Duma has approved,” Ms. Nuland said. “Hundreds of Russian orphans have found safe, loving homes in the United States, as have children from around the world.”

Duma members were not deterred by words of caution from senior officials, including Mr. Lavrov; the education minister, Dmitry Livanov; and even the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Parliament. The bill must still be approved by the Federation Council before it becomes law, but the deputy speaker, Aleksandr P. Torshin, predicted that it would pass easily.

The law that Mr. Obama signed on Friday is named for Sergei L. Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was arrested after trying to expose a huge government tax fraud. Mr. Magnitsky died in prison in 2009, and there were allegations that he had been denied proper medical care.

The new American law requires the administration to assemble a list of Russian citizens accused of abusing human rights, including officials involved in Mr. Magnitsky’s case, and to bar them from traveling to the United States and from owning real estate or other assets there.

The Kremlin reacted furiously to the Magnitsky law, calling it hypocritical and pointing to alleged rights abuses by the United States, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, at the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons around the world.

While Russian officials, including Mr. Putin, have promised a forceful response, they have struggled to find one that seems reciprocal and proportional. Many Russians, especially the wealthy, travel to the United States, own property there and keep accounts in American financial institutions, but relatively few Americans take vacations or own assets in Russia.

Russian lawmakers named their bill after Dmitri Yakovlev, a toddler who died of heat stroke in a Virginia suburb of Washington in July 2008 after his adoptive father left him in a parked car for nine hours. The father, Miles Harrison, was tried for manslaughter but was acquitted. Other cases of mistreatment of adopted Russian children have inflamed public opinion, especially a 2010 incident when a Tennessee woman put the 7-year-old boy she had adopted on a flight back to Russia, alone.

Russian critics of the proposed ban have said that it would punish Russian orphans more than it would the United States, and only served to emphasize Russia’s failures on child welfare issues. The newspaper Novaya Gazeta said it had collected more than 86,000 signatures on an open letter “to protect Russian children from the meanness of Russian lawmakers.”

Ilya V. Ponomarev, an opposition lawmaker who voted against the ban, said that statistically, Russian children living in Russia were at far greater risk of abuse or death than those living in the United States, and that in most abuse cases in the United States, judges have handed down stiff sentences.

Mr. Ponomarev also noted that the Magnitsky law was aimed at punishing Russian citizens who violate the rights of other Russian citizens, so for Russia to reciprocate, it would need a law aimed at Americans who violate other Americans’ rights.

“We want a symmetrical law,” he said. “This one doesn’t correspond.”


Critics' response

Russian critics of the proposed ban have said that it would punish Russian orphans more than it would the United States, and only served to emphasize Russia’s failures on child welfare issues.

Is bringing a greater awareness to the failure on (local) child welfare issues really all that terrible and bad for those children put in Russia's orphanage system?

People need to remember, ICA does not cure local child welfare failures; ICA simply allows failures to perpetuate.

The latest to report.....

According to latest news reports, The Duma, (Russia’s lower house of parliament), has approved a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children. Putin himself added his own personal opinion/position:

Ahead of the vote, President Vladimir Putin said: “The overwhelming majority (of Americans) who adopt our children behave themselves. The Duma deputies are reacting not to this but to the position of the American state; that when a crime is committed against one of our adopted children, most often the American judiciary doesn’t react, and they free those people who have clearly committed a crime against a child.”

[From:  Duma passes law blocking Americans from adopting Russian children, December 21, 2012 ]

Indeed, very little is done by the US judiciary to show the world the US will react to poor adoption practice, and it will react swiftly and strongly.  This slow apathetic rule applies to crimes against adopted children, and it applies to crimes within the adoption industry, most notably child trafficking cases that feature the way in which illegal adoptions are completed, all because of the strong demand for small young "orphans" not damaged by poor institutional/statecare.

Putin is expected to sign the bill into law next week, after the Senate votes on it.


pick and choose much?

Even Human Right's Watch is now engaging in the discussion. Yesterday, a spokesman for the organization said:

The proposed blanket ban on adoptions by US citizens would undermine Russia’s commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child... The convention states that children should “grow up in a family environment” and upholds international adoption “as an alternative means of child’s care, if the child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child’s country of origin.” Such inter-country adoptions are allowed when safeguards in the adoptive country are equivalent to those applicable in the case of national adoption.
from: human rights watch - Russia: Reject Adoption Ban Bill

All the quoted passages from the UNCRC are indeed in the text of the convention, although Human Right Watch is very selective in its reading.

Articles 21, of the UNCRC, open with the statement: States Parties which recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration. So everything the UNCRC says about adoption is predicated on the recognition and permition of adoption. Nowhere does the UNCRC make a statement that a child has the right to be adopted, or even that it is a preferable solution. In fact intercountry adoption is clearly listed as a choice of last resort.

The conclusion that  “This bill hits back at Russia’s most vulnerable children and could deprive them of the loving families they desperately need”, is plain silly. Last year more than 3,000 Russian children were adopted abroad, only one third of them by American couples. The rest of the Western World will simply absorb the supply of adoptable Russian children, when the export to the United States stops. The only ones "hurt" by this decision are prospective American adopters, for whom the UNCRC is not written.

a little cruel, aren't we?

I write as a Russian-speaking American living in Moscow, and yes, until this week, a PAP.

It might be useful to recognize that the honorable goals of the people here on this website are not what has motivated the Duma to pass this law. Pique, spite, delusion, and a deep callousness toward the interests of their own people are at its heart. The law is in reaction to the US's Magnitsky Act, which bans officials shown to be involved in the death of human rights lawyer Sergei Magnitsky (who tried to expose officials' theft of 230 mln in public funds) from entering or holding property in the US. The governing party hates this law, and so ordered what they openly call "retaliation," at the expense of Russian orphans.

Hundreds of thousands of people here in Russia are aghast and ashamed at this step, and have signed petitions and protested against it. They know that ICA is not going to solve their problems, but they don't see the current officialdom doing much to solve it, and they are humane enough to want to see kids get out if they can.

Incidentally, local news media are openly reporting that statistics show orphans who are adopted into Russian homes are at a much greater risk of being returned/mistreated/killed.

I disagree with you that other Western countries will just pick up the slack in ICA from Russia--demand is not elastic. There will be children who could have had families, who will now grow up in orphanages, because of this law. No one here challenges the statistic that only one in ten children who age out of orphanage care here manages to avoid either an early death or a life of crime/addiction/etc.

I fully understand that this site exists to blow holes in the many false pieties of ICA, but in applauding this step you are truly throwing out the (orphaned?) baby with the bathwater.

What Russian child welfare advocates have to say about it

If you don't believe me, listen to local childrens' advocates:

'After the State Duma passed a bill banning adoptions by Americans, journalist Valery Panyushkin wrote on Facebook, "I know of only two organizations in the world that scare their enemies by harming their own children: Hamas and the United Russia party."'

Read more:
The Moscow Times

Over-entitled US adopters

The ban on Americans adopting Russian kids is about way more than politics -- there's a whole lot to do with corrupt US adoption agencies and adopters so desperate for a kid that they out and out brag about paying bribes to expedite their adoption. Then there are the child welfare issues - the ghastly Ranch for Kids, abused/killed adoptees and the US not living up to its end of the US-Russia adoption treaty signed in 2011.

Blogger Rebecca J sums these issues up far better than I ever could:

And then there are the happy, clappy evangelical Christian APs/PAPs who refuse to follow Russian law (on photolistings, pre-selecting kids to adopt, plastering pics and private medical info on kids they've no legal claim to and who may not even be eligible for adoption) and oh-so-charmingly feel the need to protest the adoption ban by... Posting pics/medicals/etc on their blogs and begging folks to adopt said Russian kids. As if the only options for Russian orphans are 1) get adopted by Americans and 2) rot in an orphanage.

The over-entitlement is horrific, a few key quotes include:

Adeye Salem writes that "Please, don't anyone bother leaving a comment telling me that the ban on Russian adoptions is a GOOD thing! You have no idea the consequences this will have on children who languish in cribs and those who have severe medical needs! Seriously, don't waste your time here--rather go overseas and SEE for yourself what unimaginable suffering and desperation looks like to an innocent child--and then come back with an educated opinion. We're talking about the LIVES OF CHILDREN!"

Julia Nalle writes that "I've been watching and praying for weeks now. I've been reading and following and wondering. And I've been in total denial because the enormity of what may take place if Rus*ian adoptions stop is so horrible that I just can't even go there with my mind...

... I am not going to try to explain what is happening on this blog because frankly it is truly beyond me. In a nutshell... our government made their government mad and the means by why which they are getting back is to end all Rus*ian adoptions by Americans. There are a huge amount of Reece's Rainbow families who are in process. Some have just started and some are just waiting to finish and bring their babies home...

... institutions are like in Ru*sia. CLEARLY what happens to the special needs orphans who are NOT ADOPTED. "

These deluded APs/paps somehow don't see the harm they're doing. It's beyond terrible.

What on earth can be done to save these idiots (and even WORSE the kids they adopt and then discard within months - well, the Reece's Rainbow affiliated ones disrupt/exile to crisis respite indefinitely - from themselves???

the ban is about Russian domestic politics, pure and simple

It truly has nothing to do with the fate of abused orphans in the US (they negotiated a bilateral agreement for over two years to deal with that). The law was drawn up by Putin's domestic affairs advisor Viacheslav Volodin. Putin's diminishing support base depends on having a foreign enemy to bash, and this plays perfectly to the bleachers (the analog to the U.S.'s own Tea Party or black helicopter crowd). Most of the government (ministers) has in fact gone to Putin to protest it, even anti-American hawks like Lavrov.

I hear you that there are a lot of dim-witted delusional PAPs and APs with savior complexes out there. And that there are dishonest corrupt practices (but now much fewer than before in Russia is it is quite highly regulated and scrutinized). And I agree that screening has to be much better (of children and of PAPs) to prevent diruptions. I agree totally, unreservedly, with all this.

But still this ban is not a good thing--and it's Russian experts who are saying so.

banning, and why it's not good for some

While I concur;  "banning" is very much a political ploy -- one to be used as a distraction, (sheeple can be so easily distracted...) -  I also question those who strongly oppose a ban.  The international industry is a very lucrative business.  The jobs created and money made through child-trade can be enormous.  Cutting that off would hurt many.  So, on some level, do you think maybe, just maybe,  those who strongly disagree with a call to close a strong business-relationship with the USA are doing so because they are thinking with their pockets, and NOT their heads... and all that goes with a child's best interest? 

What is the current word about improving Russia's care-system, and abuse rates in Russian foster/adoptive homes?

preventing abuse in domestic adoptions/fosterage

On this issue, the government has recently mandated a 16-week (if I remember correctly) pre-adoption training course for candidates before they are approved. I've looked at the curriculum and some of it is not bad in some instances (though it's not standardized across the country). And even the good courses I've looked at here do not explicitly include material on FAS in the course outlines. This jibes with the general approach to this issue here, which is to say that since the condition can't be cured, it's best not to dwell on it and just deal with the symptoms...this is short-sighted, of course. I know that these same "Schools for Adoptive Parents" are supposed, in some cases, to provide post-adoption support.

If anything, the government is going to be so gung-ho now to show that they can solve Russia's orphan problem via domestic adoption, they are going to push it and inevitably there will be a lot of unwise placements.

Educational programs and the adopted child's future

<nodding to much of what's been posted>

From this side of Adoptionland, one of the biggest complaints I receive from genuinely sincere INTERESTED adopters - those with great motives and even bigger greater hearts, coupled with the patience of saints - relates to the less-than-adequate [government mandated] training courses adoption agencies  are required to provide PAPs before adoption approval has been granted. 

In short, too many agencies fail both the adoptees and the APs all because it has been decided scrap-booking instruction is more important than learning the ABCs of adoptive parenting which ought to include the effects poor prenatal care has on growth and development, and how stress and trauma can (and will) affect a child's ability to learn -- especially in a foreign classroom.  Perhaps such classes might scare and discourage those who think adoptive parenting is just like parenting a biologically related newborn? I don't know.  What I do know is, many APs are fulfilling required hours of instruction only to realize what they learned through their agency is nothing close to what they need to know in every-day reality.

If that isn't bad enough, I am also receiving reports (from very frustrated APs) that in many school systems, there seems to be a strong bias against foreign adoptees.  This bias seems to come from educators and therapists claiming the foreign adoptee not doing well on tests or in the classroom is not doing well in X grade because that child is MR (mentally retarded), as opposed to being something closer to the truth:  an overwhelmed child who does not use English as a primary/first language.

Can you imagine having yourself (or your child) sit through Special Ed classes all because the problem with learning/school performance has been mislabeled by so-called teaching experts?

...and we're not even talking about the list of attachment disorders the modern-day adoptee is given by so-called "parent educators" or "adoption specialists".  In some cases, the only thing some of these "educators" specialize in is the reaching out to the desperate and teaching them various inhumane ways to treat and discipline the stressed and poorly adjusting adoptee not loving his or her new adoptive parents/home. 

I strongly believe many problems American adopters are experiencing nowadays could be minimized - or prevented - simply by making high-quality comprehensive adoptive parent education programs a universal standard ALL adoption agencies must provide their PAPs.  After all, most of these private agencies are charging over 30k for a single adoption.  Surely there's room in some of these non-profit budgets so one or two high-quality comprehensive adoptive parent education programs can be added to its list and menu of adoption services available to all qualified PAPs.  

Or am I too idealistic?

Unfortunately, the cynic in me says there are too many people eager to profit from another person's misery.  Mislabeling has become an art and science in Adoptionland, and quite frankly, APs cannot afford to be partially informed....about anything that relates to care for an adopted child.  In my mind, having only a fraction of a child's correct story and condition is criminal... especially if both story and condition have been concocted by those who stand to profit from a child's bad label and untreated prognosis.

With that, I'm afraid too many "unwise placements" have already been made, and they now plague the USA.  Let's hope Russia can - and WILL - learn from these critical mistakes... mistakes made in America.

those protesting the ban

Within the US, for sure the loudest voices are from those who would lose financially if (when) the ban goes into effect--agreed.

But ironically, within Russia, the people protesting this are from two camps: 1. ordinary citizens, "liberals," tired of seeing Putin's unaccountable cabal run roughshod over the public good, and 2. professional child welfare advocates and other government figures responsible for these issues (who know first hand how the ban would hurt kids in the system). It would be specious to assert that these figures "profit" somehow from ICA. More likely to reap any "profit" are the ruling party figures who are the ones pressing for the ban.

Russia Bi-lateral agreement and ban

The problem is, they signed the bilateral agreement and then Russia asked the US Government to hold up their side of the bargain (ie - allow them access to abused children, notify them when abuse cases occur etc) and the US refused. Not only did they block them from obtaining access to the child in Florida who was abused, but they sided with the courts in Georgia to ensure that the Russian representatives were blocked from the court house during any hearings during the court case regarding the adopted girl whose adoption was disrupted, who was then abused and raped by her new adopted father.

Whoever this blog writer is, she has private information that isn't being talked about in the news. I've seen some of the information and it's not being supplied to the news by either side, they're keeping it private. Russia IS upset about the agencies, they're upset that the agencies are charging so much and increasing the costs, that agencies are lying to pre-adoptive parents about the actual costs in Russia (who honestly believes that you're supposed to carry $10,000 USD cash to Russia to pay Russia for the adoption and for Russian International fees).

They're upset about children being photo listed and pre-identified (it's one thing to hear about a child that MIGHT be available or might not via a missionary, or from another family that adopted). It's quite another to be promised a child by a photo listing organization and pre-identify a child there and then lie about it in Russia which is what many of these families do.

She's also right about Russia being upset about these abuse cases. Any any idiot can find comments in US or Russian news stories about Russia being angry about the case in Florida, or the case in Georgia, or the Russians being restricted from observing the court case and being locked out of the court room. This has been simmering for a while but the US wasn't doing anything about it (admittedly, they have more important things to worry about right now like the fiscal cliff so I'm not surprised). But it WAS a big deal in Russia and so Russia used this as an excuse to deal with it. I'm not worried about it shutting down permanently. But I agree with the blogger that it will probably shut down for a year or two so that Russia can re-work the system. The bi-lateral agreement hasn't even been implemented yet so nothing has been done regarding corrupt agencies etc. The first piece of legislation just passed Congress regarding adoptions agencies and knowing the American Government, I doubt it has any teeth to it. I think if agencies pay enough they'll be certified and registered by the Government.

The blog writer is a public

The blog writer is a public persona, no too hard to figure out who she is.

Whoever this blog writer is, she has private information that isn't being talked about in the news. I've seen some of the information and it's not being supplied to the news by either side, they're keeping it private.

If you have some information you want to share, we are happy to put documents, news, etc up here.

Marine Corps wife totally misreads the background/politics

I looked at the blog you linked to. It's clear it's written by someone who cares about the situation, and a successful adopter. How lucky.

But there are several important errors and omissions she makes, leading to her incorrect interpretation of the current situation. Firstly, no one in Russia in all of this debate said anything about the failings of American agencies or their irritation with them. In fact, the bilateral agreement that just went into effect mandates that Americans go through agencies, and outlaws independent adoptions like this blogger's. The Russians insisted upon this.

Secondly, the law had so much support in the Duma because the Presidential Administration which drafted it called up all the ruling party deputies, and even the KPRF and SPS deputies and threatened that they would lose their seats if they didn't vote for it. One Edinoross deputy even died of a heart attack! This has been openly reported in the press here. It's amusing to read someone who really thinks that the Russian Duma acts independently or expresses some "will of the people." Did she follow what went on during the elections?

Too sad to write more right now. I'd not like your readers to get the wrong impression about this.

People here are already scoffing about Astakhov (the ex-KGB children's ombudsman) and his sudden plans to rid Russia of orphans. Find a good analysis piece by a Russian journalist on this in English here:



I myself read the op/ed piece you recommended, and I found much of what was said reflects similar happenings here in the US:  

even if these orphans stayed in Russia and had children, the odds are high they, too, would give up their children to orphanages. It is not their fault but their misfortune — a misfortune that haunts their entire lives.

I am very familiar with the lives children lead in Russian orphanages and what often happens to them after they leave and try to lead a normal life. Unfortunately, the state has shown no interest in helping them become productive citizens. I wrote a thesis on the subject and can confidently report that Russia's attitude toward these children has not changed since Felix Dzerzhinsky ordered that a network of shelters be built to round up homeless children — like a bunch of stray cats and dogs — to get them off the street. Rather than providing counseling and other forms of assistance to deeply dysfunctional families, the government simply removes the children and places them in orphanages. Out of sight, out of mind.   [From:  U.S. Adoptions Give Hope, December 23, 2012]

Aging-out in any poorly run care-system - whether it be Russian, British, Canadian,or American - brings a whole host of new problems for the adult cared-for individual.  There is  an obscene absence of support programs and parent-teaching programs offered and available for these people.  As a result, the cycle of pathology continues both in the minds of the former care-victims AND society, as a whole.

In the US, there is a wonderful program called  Nurse-Family Partnership .  In essence,  RN's are partnered with expectant mothers (who meet certain criteria) beginning in their second trimester, and they provide education-based visits until the child is two years old.  Studies in the UK support the belief that such nurse-partnership programs work in terms of ending the pattern of abandonment and abuse.    Question:  To your knowledge, are there any such programs developing in Russia?

preventing abandonment/abuse

Great question. The journalist actually touches on this when he writes that NGOs working in the field of family preservation/social orphanhood prevention are often treated with suspicion or obstructed by the state. I volunteer with a couple of them and know this firsthand. One such group, KidSave Russia (which is a branch of KidSave International which also promotes, or has promoted adoption here) has a great program called "Little Moms" (????????? ????) that helps girls who are themselves orphanage grads who become pregnant--trains them in parenting, helps solve their employment issues, gives them counselling. Some of these girls are third or fourth generation orphans, so when they face difficulties, the natural thing to do is to repeat what they know! But it's a tiny program, and there are few others like it. I've read about the Nurse Partnership program, but it would require a lot of institutional changes to implement here. One simple change would be to allow migrants, whether foreigners or Russian citizens, to receive social assistance from the Moscow municipality, but that idea isn't going anywhere.

For the time being, the official bias is to take away the children from troubled families, or in maternity homes, to if not encourage, then not to too actively discourage abandonment. And families with issues have trouble getting the kind of assistance that could help them keep their kids at home. These are things Russian officials are talking about...but while they talk, Rome is burning, and the rates of abandonment and removal are going up.

Meanwhile, the state is throwing a lot of money at domestic adoption and fosterage (in the form of high monthly subsidies), which is why the rates of returning kids back to state care is so high.

Subsidies as an incentive

It looks like Russia is trying to follow American foot-steps.  I can only hope Russia proves to be far better than it's American counter-part.

While on-paper adoption subsidies can make a great incentive to adopt, once again the failures of a profit-driven adoption industry come back to haunt both APs and adoptees.

I myself offered my own opinion about what ought to happen post-adoption and the adoption subsidy in a recent thread following my blog-peice, The Travesty Behind Travis.

  Adoption, in many cases, is subsidized by the state government. This fact changes whether or not a person has the right to be free from on-going state-investigation, and if payments/tax-breaks ought to be granted to adoptive parents, I believe the government has the right to monitor family-issues like domestic violence and pedophilia/child porn. After all, if delinquincey is associated with various forms of abuse, shouldn't families created through the government ought to be abuse/dysfunctional-free?

Perhaps more importantly, from a fiscal/cost POV, there is the matter of squandered state-money. If state funds are sent for the sake of a fostered/adopted child, the government ought to have the unquestioned right to ensure those monies are not being squandered and wasted, while a child is suffering... or worse, dead. After all, most who choose to 'train-up' their child are not "criminals" per se, however, I don't think individuals who support and promote the torturing of children should be entertained by social workers working on behalf of a child's best-interest, and I certainly don't think such people should be entitled to government funded financial supplements. [See: abuse cases where the AP's got paid to abuse.]

Unfortunately, since SO MANY APs are NOT prepared to parent a child with behavior issues related to FAS or long-term institutionalism, they seek costly therapy.  In order to get larger subsidy payments to cover these costs, states require an "official" diagnosis from a doctor/therapist.. Enter the RAD cult, the dangerous therapies used on adopted children, and underground adoptions in the US  [For more, see:  Ronald Federici, the founding/foundling father of questionable therapy used on adoptees with "institutional autism" ,  abuse cases involving adopters using "therapeutic techniques" as a way to control unwanted child behavior, and abuse cases found within the home-schooled home -- because discipline and punishment have their own wicked twist.


It's all such an enormous mess, isn't it?

Mess, yes.

One small bright spot I forgot to mention: the presence in the Moscow region of an SOS Children's Village, which is a non-state not-for-profit group that takes in "difficult" orphans from state institutions and houses them in foster-family-like groups of up to about 17. The specially-trained parent-surrogates help the kids to learn about mutual responsibility, self-control, etc. as they all collaborate to raise animals, farm, etc. alongside schoolwork. In other words, it's still an orphanage, but probably of an optimal type. Some of your readers may remember that this is where poor twice-abandoned Artem Savelev ended up after Astakhov promised he'd be adopted within the first week! Incidentally, if anyone feels like donating to a good cause...

As good as it is, even SOS provides extremely minimal psychotherapy by professionals--not because they don't want to, but because they can't afford it. I know because a group I was involved with was funding it there for a while, but decided that it was not sustainable. Therapy is expensive. Our group was also approached by an enterprising state orphanage to fund educational materials on ADHD to gain some methodologies to use with their kids. Imagine--an institution run by the Ministry of Education, and they have no access to any of this stuff themselves, even with the huge problems of their kids, many of whom have FASD.

So the government has huge, huge steps to take...but right now, as you point out, they are oriented toward "privatizing" the problem by getting these kids out into families enticed by subsidies (which, though massive measured against average salaries, are still not enough to pay for needed therapies, which are, at any rate, hardly available here). Don't even get me started about the lack of public education about FASD, or addiction treatment...



Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts!
It is always helpful to have a variety of perspectives, especially people who are local (as in Moscow).

Have a super New Year


I did a Kerry-Smirk when I noticed the insertion of polite thanks.  I'd say "ditto", but then my own appreciation for such great dialogue may come off as less-sincere.  


Thanks to Kerry and Niels for focusing attention on all this

Trying to rationally discuss the policies and politics around this issue helps to create a little distance for me from what's going on now.

I forgot to mention that there are a handful of NGOs trying to work with kids about to age out of the system, to help prepare them for independent life. The most professionally-run one is Big Change...they get corporate money but no government funding that I'm aware of. One of the big problems they deal with is that kids are labelled mentally deficient when they have normal- or above-normal intelligence accompanied by learning disabilities of various origins; Big Change helps them get the equivalent of GEDs and go one to either higher ed or professional training. They take on only a handful of cases each year, but since all of their participants would probably have a completely bleak future, each one is a huge victory.

Again, something that needs massive scaling up, which would require a totally changed perspective on the part of government. Right now their focus on providing for orphans is buying them apartments to live in after graduation (which they promptly are cheated out of, etc.).

In Moscow


Perhaps you know of an NGO who could help this young woman who was deported from the US, Read here

I would start with this one

There's a fantastic group called "Perspektiva" that advocates for the rights of the disabled. They might be able to direct her to social services as well as pro-bono legal assistance to explore how she could regain citizenship/custody.

Their phone in Moscow is +7(495)725-39-82 and the URL is

US not living up to its end of the US-Russia treaty

Thank you for that article - stuff I was not previously aware of.

The one point in the Military Wife blog that I haven't seen detailed (much) elsewhere is the allegation that the US government isn't living up to its end of the 2011 adoption treaty with Russia - specifically by failing to advise Russian officials of Russian children that have been abused/killed by their adopters and/or failing to provide Russian officials access to adopted kids (who hold dual US-Russian citizenship until they turn 18).

Does anyone know if this is the case? And if so, how "important" it is to Russia?

Well, Military Wife is

Well, Military Wife is Rebecca Leigh Johnson, who works for RADA which has affiliations with "Dr." Federici.

Of course she does. Anyone

Of course she does. Anyone that doesn't believe it hasn't done any research. Ask the families that have been ripped off by RADA and Rebecca's name always comes up.

Links Posted

She posted a bunch of Russian links about the Florida abuse case.

Why is she so up in arms

Why is she so up in arms about pre-identifying kids? Her first referral was pre-identified.

Up in arms?

Last check, the link supplied leads to an empty blog-page that reads, "Sorry, the page you were looking for in this blog does not exist".

Well it seems there might be

Well it seems there might be a link between this ban and Reece's Rainbow what with their photolistings, preselection and all…

Other stuff on this blog is of interest too but this is right on the point of the ban.

According to whom?

According to whom? Hard to put any credibility in an anonymous blog.

Well, the treaty only came into effect November 1 2012

If the Duma is truly upset by any allegations that the US is not upholding its end of the bargain (and in 5 weeks time I don't know how serious this can be), then there is a mechanism provided in the bilateral to work this out. But again, that is not the point of this all.

Most Russians don't really understand how the US government works, and they think that any evidence of local government autonomy or real federalism is just an illusion and part of some conspiracy. In other words, they think all governments are basically as authoritarian as their own. So the fact that state and local social service agencies play some part in setting these policies/reporting probably messes with their heads.

The upper house vote today was unanimous, and the "debate" a contest to see who could be the biggest nationalist America-hater. Gee, it's fun to live here sometimes.

Florida Abuse Case

Unfortunately most of the issues came in the 5 weeks since the bi-lateral agreement actually went into effect. And in both cases the State Department either sided with the state or sided with the court. In Georgia they sided with the court in throwing the Russian observers out of the court so they couldn't observe (state's rights over federal), and in Florida again there was an issue of state's rights. Florida stated that the bi-lateral agreement didn't apply to them since it wasn't an agreement with Florida but at the Federal level and that they didn't have to comply with it. The State Department concurred. Honestly, there's a lot that the US could do to re-activate adoptions with Russia in the next year, but it will take changing laws to outlaw photo listings of internationally available children without written permission from the country (IE: China allows it but Russia and Ukraine do not). The State Department would have to have all 50 States sign on to the bi-lateral agreement to allow access to these abused children and to allow them to observe the court cases in case of abuse, neglect, rape or murder. They may have to shut down the Ranch for Kids or return those Russian children back to Russia. They may need to extradite the man in Georgia accused of raping his adopted daughter (turns out he never legally adopted her, his sister in law handed her over to his family because she couldn't take care of her adopted children any more). I think in the short run this ban may not be a good solution (especially for families in process), but in the long run it may give the US and Russia a chance to investigate what is going on and what is REALLY at the root of this ban (not just the Magnitski Act) to open up adoptions again and to deal with some of the rampant corruption and bribery issues.

Russia has the same legal principle

In cases of dual citizenship, the country of residency acknowledges only its own passport. Russian courts would act the same way--if a dual citizen was arrested here, Russia would only look at the Russian citizenship and not necessarily provide access to US consular officials. the 1964 treaty on consular relations states this principle. In the bilateral on adoption this issue is not in fact stated the way you claim--the agreement talks of "cooperation."

At the risk of sounding like a borken record, what is REALLY at the root of this ban is Putin's attempt to boost his popularity at home and distract people from their horrendous (and worsening) reality. The minister of justice, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of education, the deputy prime minister for social issues, the presidential human rights council along with many other governmental institutions were/are against the law. This is Putin's project, and his alone. So, and I say this with great personal sadness, don't look for adoptions to be started up here again while he is president (in other words, in his lifetime!).

Moscow Times

Putin Intends to Sign Adoptions Ban
28 December 2012 | Issue 5044
By Natalya Krainova

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he intends to sign a controversial bill that would ban U.S. adoptions of Russian children for the indefinite future.

The announcement came a day after employees of the Russian Embassy in Washington and police there shooed away two disabled former Russian orphans who were trying to hand over a petition to Putin, which spoke against the bill and was signed by 7,000 U.S. citizens.

Putin said he sees no reason not to sign the so-called Dima Yakovlev bill banning U.S. adoptions.

The adoptions bill was a response to the so-called Magnitsky Act imposing similar sanctions on Russian officials implicated in the 2009 death of Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in pretrial detention in Moscow.

At a government meeting, the president also said he would sign a decree to improve state support of orphans, in particular those who are disabled, the Kremlin website reported.

"Much needs to be resolved" by the government to support Russian adoptive parents, he said.

The bill would cancel the bilateral adoption agreement that was signed in July 2011, according to the text of the draft legislation posted on the Duma's website.

The bilateral agreement took effect in November 2012.

Children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said Wednesday that adoptions of Russian children by U.S. citizens would stop from Jan. 1, Interfax reported.

Astakhov sent Putin a report on Thursday "explaining the legality given all international legal obligations of Russia of the ban to adopt our children," Astakhov tweeted.

The ombudsman also asked the Investigative Committee to "examine the circumstances of adoptions of all Russian children who died or suffered in the U.S.," he tweeted.

He said 46 children waiting to be adopted by Americans would remain at home. But USA Today reported Wednesday that about 1,500 U.S. families were in limbo ahead of the bill's signature or rejection by Putin, as they are waiting to adopt Russian children. The two statements could not be immediately reconciled.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted Wednesday that he "agreed with hundreds of thousands of Russians who want children removed from political debate" and he was "saddened" by the bill.

Astakhov told Interfax on Wednesday that "any foreign adoption," not only by U.S. citizens, was harmful for Russia, because it diminished the number of domestic adoptions, in particular by creating opportunities for corruption.

Two adult Russian former orphans adopted by American parents on Wednesday tried to hand over to the embassy workers a petition for Putin, asking him not to sign the adoptions bill, PublicPost reported Thursday.

Paralympics champion Tatyana McFadden, 24, and Alexander D'Jamoos, 21, a university student and an invalid arrived at the embassy around 3 p.m. Wednesday, along with several other people.

The embassy workers asked them to wait outside the building. They waited for half an hour in the rain, wind and cold — then police arrived.

"We were told that we were staging a massive unsanctioned protest, although there were only three Russian children with Russian passports," Deborah McFadden, Tatyana's adoptive mother, told PublicPost.

The activists said they wanted to hand over a petition and a police officer inquired whether they were going to use violence if embassy staff refused to take the document.

"I look at Tatyana in a wheel chair and feel like laughing, so absurd it is," McFadden said.

In another 10 minutes an embassy worker came out, took the petition and told them to leave.

In a preamble to the petition, D'Jamoos said that if he had stayed in Russia, he would have been doomed to spend his life in a wheelchair in a state facility for the disabled, while in the U.S. he received artificial legs and was able to walk, ski, climb mountains and study at a university.

Deborah McFadden said Tatyana could have died in Russia, while now she was a gold medal-winning athlete, a brilliant student, who drives a car and has traveled around the world.

The Foreign Ministry will look into the incident outside its Washington embassy, ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a briefing in Moscow on Thursday, Interfax reported.

But Lukashevich seemingly defended police, saying that if "the picket" wasn't authorized by local authorities, then "police interference is absolutely normal," he said.

Meanwhile, the White House gave a vague diplomatic reply to a petition signed by almost 55,000 Russian citizens proposing to impose travel and economic sanctions on the State Duma deputies who passed the bill to ban U.S. adoptions of Russian children.

In its response, the White House slammed the adoptions bill and promised to "continue to call for full accountability for those responsible for Magnitsky's unjust imprisonment and wrongful death" but didn't say whether it would impose any additional sanctions on other people.

On Sunday, a senior State Duma deputy with the pro-Kremlin United Russia party accused reporters of misrepresenting the bill, saying it is not a ban "but abolishes a simplified [adoption] procedure for Americans" versus other foreigners, Mikhail Slipenchuk, founder of Metropol investment company, wrote on Facebook, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

The text of the bill posted in the Duma's database, however, contradicted Slipenchuk, because it said that adoptions of Russian children by Americans is "banned."

pipeline cases?

"He [Astakhov] said 46 children waiting to be adopted by Americans would remain at home. But USA Today reported Wednesday that about 1,500 U.S. families were in limbo ahead of the bill's signature or rejection by Putin, as they are waiting to adopt Russian children. The two statements could not be immediately reconciled."

Always the same issue. Pending adoptions, and PAPs waiting!

He signed it. The law passed in record time, as it was his idea.

Children's rights advocate Boris Altshuler hypothesizes that state officials want to keep the money flowing, as the 50,000 US that goes to support each orphan per annum is a rich source to be "mined" by thieving bureaucrats.

It's a sad day.

Amendment to the Ban

Apparently whoever the blogger is thinks there will be a change in a year or so, and is also following a supposed Amendment to the Ban, but she doesn't think it will pass.

I'm wondering how many families will be allowed to bring their kids home in January. I know a lot of agencies rushed their families over to Russia the day before it passed and somehow convinced judges to allow their court cases to be heard the day before the ban was passed (or the day after). I wonder if Russia will let that fly, or if they'll stop everything including families who had referrals and or court dates for January/February.

I've heard about the

I've heard about the amendment but believe that the deputy putting it forward is just doing so to save his reputation as a "liberal," despite having voted obediently for the law, without much hope that it will pass.

The way I understand it is that the 46 cases that people are talking about are those that have actually passed court and are waiting for the 30 days before those rulings go into effect. Then there are another few hundred in various stages of the process: having just received referrals, having accepted them, having court dates set, etc.

Nothing in the Russian press indicates that Astakhov, Putin's errand-boy on this, will back down from his multiple statements that the law goes into effect and immediately halts all adoptions (even overturning recent court decisions). Since the law is only a tool to be used by the ruling clique, anyway, this is not too surprising. Sad, tragic, disgusting--but not surprising. Remember, most of the government thinks that the law violates Russia's own constitution, family code, international obligations, etc., etc.

Protecting the pipeline

Cassandra, I find your insight and knowledge very refreshing and informative. [Thank you so much for adding what you think and what you know!]  With that, I'm curious.... what are your thoughts on adoptions pipelines, especially those to the US?

From what I see here, (Philly/NY metro area), little attention is given to the actual history of gross negligence, as it appears in care-systems found in both countries.  Instead, during this time of the year, especially, with the news of adoption doors closing, there comes the barrage of "let's feel bad and HELP these people" pieces written by journalists focused on (who else?) the poor distraught Americans who are grieving the loss of their most wanted Christmas gift:  the struggling orphan found in an orphanage, which happens to be in country we Americans are supposed to loathe and despise because of the government's cold cruel ways towards its own people.

I fear the end-result from this media-focus will create a situation that mimics the great letter campaign of September 2009 .  See: Letter of congress to Secretary of State Clinton regarding adoption from Guatemala

Personally, I find such "emotional" pieces pouring from news-sources rather revolting and self-serving; I believe far too often matters associated with corrupt adoption practices get sugar-coated, glorified, even justified, all because nothing pulls the heartstrings more than the story of the poor orphan denied a Christmas... one that could have been spent in an American home.  (Just to serve as a reminder, review home-life for these lucky adoptees from the Soviet Union.)  The American home-life experience included:

  • Stripping the children naked as part of punishment.
  • Dragging the children by their arms while the children were naked.
  • Kicking the children in the groin.
  • Spraying the children in the face and on the neck and chest with pepper spray.
  • Bending a child’s arm into a “compliance-type” arm bar.
  • Hitting the children with a stick.
  • Slapping the children in the face.
  • Stabbing one child in the hand with a knife.
  • Grabbing children by the throat and lifting them off the ground.
  • Striking children in the groin with a knee.
  • Picking one child off the floor by an ear causing the ear to tear and bleed.
  • Striking children with a ruler.
  • Placing one child in a “bin” while Afather struck the outside of the bin with a log.
  • Striking one child in the chest with a flashlight
  • Forcing the adopted children to eat frozen loaves of bread off the floor before bedtime while the biological children watched.
  • Forcing the children to stand naked in the snow three to four times a year.
  • Locking the children in a bedroom for four to five days at a time.
  • Beating the children with a belt.
  • Choking one child because of a prayer he said.

Not so loving and ideal, and not so much better than what may be found in Russia, is it?

I believe post adoption-closing coverage from biased/myopic media news-sources (offering their own version of 'mandatory reporting') help support the very profitable ICA industry, and in-turn, hurt those still hurting from the effects of profit-centric adoption practices.  For example, I believe too much attention and favor is given to the American foreign adopter who wants to participate in an agreement that is based on "good faith", and requires child-delivery... after all bills and fees have been paid, of course.  In my mind, such an agreement is not charity -- it is a purchase-plan.  In my mind, this purchase plan is not the sort of generous altruism that helps improves poorly run/corrupt care-systems; and in no way do I think this plan saves abandoned children from poor social services (created for the abused, the abandoned and the poor).  Spoken as the victim of an adoption gold-rush, I find most foreign adoption agreements are based on clever sales-pitches and the smart marketing of unwanted/wanted children.  While some may be enriched by the experience, we cannot --  we must not -- forget such plans can end in disaster, for the adoptee, and in many cases, the APs, as well.

I see the adoption pipeline to the US as being a dangerous entity -- I fear too many stuck there are willing to financially assist a specific children's charity, (like an orphanage), but only if it means the gift of a child is given, with many many thanks... and few post-placement problems.

I'd like to learn the outsider's POV... the outsider being one who is not the desperate PAP waiting for the promised delivery, and not the child in-care, suffering the ills that go with abuse and neglect.

It would be a shame

I agree that if the major focus of U.S. diplomacy were to become "protecting" or winning back the "orphan supply" from Russia it would be shameful. It also might give the Russians the mistaken impression that they can bargain away the Magnitsky act. Though the ban really is an impediment in bilateral relations, Russia is a sovereign country and if in the end they decide their children are better served at home or adopted by other countries (though we all know that is not what this is about), then so be it. What will be interesting is to see if it has it's intended effect: scaring the EU/UK away from passing anything like Magnitsky. Russian officials can give up their vacations in Miami and shopping trips to New York, but their European bank accounts and South of France real estate would be MUCH harder to part with...

If there are any such remaining arrangements in Russia like those you mention (charity first/then children promised), I'm not aware of them.

Thanks for the link to the WashPost article. You've made the point before that if this ban leads to any changes in Russia that truly promote child welfare (and particularly for disabled children, including those whose disabilities, like FASD, may be hidden) it would be a positive outcome.

Pound Pup Legacy