exposing the dark side of adoption
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Adoption of Ukrainian children by foreigners: boon or bane?


Ukrainian diplomats intend to control the living conditions of other adoptees in the family, where an adopted Ukrainian boy was killed. "The Foreign Ministry welcomes the reaction of the American side, announced by US embassy in the statement of February 25, 2013 about the death of Andrew Butler," Ukrainian FM states.

In turn, the US Department of State has been in communication with Ukrainian officials to facilitate communication with appropriate state and local authorities. According to US officials, the department will continue to work to ensure that Ukrainian officials have access to the information they require.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also states it is taking steps to improve the existing monitoring mechanism over adopted Ukrainian children living abroad. "To provide better observance of children's rights, we expect all the states, where adopted Ukrainian children currently live, to set proper control over their living conditions and education, as well as to improve cooperation on this issue with the Ukrainian side," FM's statement reads.

According to the information, Andrew Butler, 13, was shot by his adoptive father, 73, during "shooting lessons" in the yard in June 2011 in West Virginia. The farther was sentenced for manslaughter and is serving his term. The Butlers adopted Andrew in 2003 under a judgment of Kramatorsk court of Donetsk region together with two other children.

To answer the question whether Ukraine is going to use Russia’s way to limit the adoption of Ukrainian children by foreigners, ForUm has asked experts:

Oksana Moskalenko, coordinator of programs on children's rights of the All-Ukrainian organization "Women's consortium of Ukraine:

- I believe the problem must be considered in an integrated manner. The adoptive father, for example, is 73 years old. According to our legislation, he did not even have a right for adoption. Probably, we should set tougher selection process for potential parents. As for the control over living conditions, we must be careful here. Adoption process is already a trauma for a child, and everyday questions like "How are you doing here" and "Do they treat you well" will not help him to adapt. The government should render support to the adoptive families and children, not to set control. There is another question: If a child has been living in America for 10 years, for example, should he be sent back to the country he already forgot? I believe that if the child has already adapted to live in this or that country he must stay in that country. For this, we must take into account the possibilities of a country, citizens of which adopt our children.

Olga Skorina, head of the legal department of the All-Ukrainian council on patients' rights:

- Ukraine does everything for the realization of the social adoption initiative, and it would be logical not to limit our orphans to Ukrainian families only. There are different children with different needs, and foreign families may be the best thing for some of them.

Unfortunately, the authorities often impose restrictions when there is no political will to solve a problem. The law on legal relationships is called to regulate these relationships, not to impose bans. Restrictive measure is the measure of last resort. Imposing limits we deprive our children of the possibility to find a loving family. In this case, what we need is some political will and efforts to regulate the issue. We still do not have an accurate system of control over Ukrainian children living in adoptive families abroad, or a system calculating risks of children's stay abroad or a control system over psychological condition of a child in a family. What we need is the system and a person in Ukrainian consulates, who will have the right to control the situation, collect data and make reports. May be should form a special institute, responsible for this sector.

We've learned about Andrew's death from the press, and we know only about the fact of manslaughter. We do not know anything about how he lived and felt in that family. Thus, the improved system of monitoring is exactly what we need to change the situation.

Vitaly Bala, director of the Agency for simulated events:

- In my opinion the question is very delicate. We should not turn the adoption process into a political bargaining chip. In Russia, for example, this problem has political connotations. As for Ukraine, I don't think that this issue is a problem. Of course, there's no limit to perfection and we do need to improve the monitoring system over Ukrainian children adopted by foreigners, but there is no need to follow the Russian way.

Yevhen Perebyinis, FM spokesman:

- As of today, we follow the law that we have. Our legislation allows foreigners to adopt Ukrainian children. It is obvious that the monitoring system needs to be improved, and the Foreign Ministry is working on this now. Ukrainian diplomats have sent letters to Ukrainian embassies in all the states, where there are Ukrainian children living in adoptive families. Whenever possible, consulate officials will visit these children to check the conditions they live in. If the conditions appear inappropriate, consulates will take necessary measures.

According to the Ukraine's embassy in US, the foster father who killed Andrew Butler was convicted and is serving his sentence. I want to stress that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry welcomes the reaction of the American side in this issue. Currently the FM seeks to obtain access to two other adopted children by the same family in order to check their living conditions.

Eduard Bagirov, human right activist:

- Ukraine is responsible for its citizens not only on the state territory, but also in countries of stay. This is a requirement of the Constitution. Once a year or half a year, the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine charges Ukrainian consulates in foreign states with controlling Ukrainian children adopted by foreign families. But such control is formal. Ukrainian embassies and consulates simply do not have sufficient funding for this.

Ukraine needs a law to protect the rights of its children. Moreover, Ukraine needs to adopt tougher measures of control over foreign families taking Ukrainian children. The fact is that giving a child for adoption in a foreign family Ukraine loses control over the situation and the child loses legal support. Foreign families see that the Ukrainian bodies do not perform their functions and may violate child's rights.

At the same time, if we follow Russia's way (forbidding foreign families to adopt Ukrainian children) we will deprive our children, especially sick ones, of the chance for normal life. What we need is to adopt a system of monitoring living conditions and to provide security for our children.

2013 Mar 1