Topic: US Adoption Ban
- Russian Ambassador: Adoption Ban ‘Didn’t Appear From Nowhere’
- Celebs Ask Putin to Let US Families Complete Adoptions
- US International Adoptions Fell in 2012 - Report
- Russia to Treat Child Adoption for Cash as Trafficking
- State TV Tips Russian Opinion Against US Adoptions – Experts
MOSCOW, February 13 (Alexandra Odynova, RIA Novosti) – Whitney Olson and her husband, Doug Little, needed only one piece of paper – a birth certificate – to complete Russia’s highly bureaucratic adoption process and take their three-year-old daughter-to-be home to Montana. But officials in the scenic old city of Pskov, on Russia’s western rim, suddenly balked.
When the American couple arrived in mid-January, together with little Aliona, at the Pskov records office meant to give them the document, they were sure it was a mere formality. A local court had issued its final approval for the adoption on Christmas Day, a week before Russia’s controversial ban on adoptions by US nationals came into effect. And the family expected to leave Russia early in the new year.
But the officials openly admitted that the ban had them confused – a feeling shared by numerous mid- and lower-level officials stuck implementing the hastily adopted legislation.
“And then they got very serious and said: ‘We are not sure she can stay with you,’” Olson, 33, told RIA Novosti in a recent interview.
From the records office, the couple – who had thus far spent about 10 months on the adoption process – was sent to the regional justice department, where things got scarier.
The officials there, none of whom Olson and Little had met before, wanted to send Aliona back to an orphanage until things got clearer. The adoptive parents refused, saying the child would stay with them at their hotel. Then the officials said Aliona should be checked by a doctor. Again, the parents said no.
As the three left the justice department and walked toward their hotel, two blocks away, several officials came out and followed them.
To Olson and Little’s relief, the officials’ pursuit ended at the hotel door. Back in their room, the couple spoke by phone with the US Consulate in St. Petersburg, much closer to Pskov than Moscow, and asked for help.
The next day, for reasons that remain unclear, the records office reversed its decision, apologized and handed over Aliona’s birth certificate. A week later, the trio was on a plane home.
Olsen and Little have been much luckier than scores of American families navigating Russia’s bureaucracy since the ban. Two adoptive mothers, Rebecca Preece and Jeana Bonner, were set to leave Moscow on Wednesday after weeks of legal limbo in the cold, congested, expensive city. But many more still do not know whether they will ever be able to complete their adoptions.
The estimates of how many families have been affected by the ban vary. The US State Department has said that as many as 500 to 1,000 American families could have been at some stage of adopting Russian children as of January 1, while Russia’s child rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, said Tuesday that his regional representatives have identified 172 minors in the process of being adopted when the ban took effect. This number includes 32 adoptive children who have already left Russia this year, he added.
“We are very, very sad for people who are behind us in the [adoption] process,” Olson said a few days before her family’s flight back to the United States, sitting in the lobby of a Moscow hotel as Aliona tugged happily at her now-official father’s beard.
More than 50 US families addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin in a January 24 letter asking him to allow them to complete their adoptions.
“We all met the children that your government chose for us and we fell in love with them instantly. Those children became a part of our families at that moment and we could not wait to bring them home with us,” they said in the letter, a copy of which was given to RIA Novosti.
“Now we are at a crossroads with our adoptions and we have no idea what is going to happen to us or to the children that we already feel are a part of our families,” the letter said.
At least four American families have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights asking for the right to complete their adoptions of Russian children and for a repeal of the ban. Their lawyer, Karinna Moskalenko, told the RAPSI news agency that their complaint was accepted by the court January 23.
The adoption ban, introduced late last year, is part of Moscow's response to Washington’s so-called Magnitsky Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in December. The Magnitsky Act calls for US travel and financial sanctions against Russian citizens deemed by the American government to have violated human rights.
According to the US State Department, more than 60,000 Russian children were adopted by American families in the last 20 years, including 962 last year.
Russian officials blame US parents for the deaths of at least 19 of the children adopted over the past two decades. The law introducing the ban is informally called the Dima Yakovlev Law, in reference to a Russian toddler who died of heatstroke in 2008 after his American adoptive father left him in an overheated car for hours.
The raw emotion tied to the Yakovlev case may have caused some additional worry for the Pskov officials handling Aliona’s documents: The little boy had been adopted from a children’s home in the same region, and an ongoing Russian investigation into his death has found that his grandmother’s signature on various documents had been forged.
Despite the tense standoff over the birth certificate, Olson and Little completed their adoption process relatively quickly, kicking it off last March and making only three visits to Russia.
“I think it was fast because she is not healthy,” Olson said of Aliona. “If you want a brand-new baby, it would take a year or two years, but for us it was very, very quick.” She asked that Aliona’s health problem not be disclosed for privacy reasons.
Aliona’s biological mother was deprived of parental rights when her daughter was 10 months old. The girl’s three older siblings are in Russian foster families who did not express an interest in taking Aliona.
“Yes, she is only three, but she recognized us every time we came back,” Olson said, smiling.
As if on cue, when a photographer showed Aliona a picture of her American parents on his camera, she pointed to the digital display, saying “mama” and “papa.”
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
- Iranian ExpatSad Ending For Little Girl01:56, 14/02/2013It is these sort of stories that cements Russia as a country that even sells its children if the price is right.
Incompetent officials first allow this little Russian girl to be left with the abusive/Christian American couple, and again allow the child not to be examined for abuse and sexual molestation.
Would a Russian couple be allowed the same to an American girl in the US?
We wonder what happened to Russia after the Soviet. All remained was a bunch of prideless drunks?
- jg(no title)20:11, 14/02/2013"...the abusive/Christian American couple..."
Do you have some evidence for such a libelous remark or has your irrational hatred got the better of you?
"...what happened to Russia after the Soviet. All remained was a bunch of prideless drunks?"
Given that Iran has few friends at the UN Security Council, it seems a bit silly to gratuitously insult the entire country of Russia.
- ChristianIt sounds like a trade11:36, 21/02/2013Good thing the adoption has been banned. It just beats me how a mother can let go of her children for any reason whatsoever, especially if she is a Russian woman. Protecting these innocent children must be a priority and the ban needs to be extended to include other countries not only USA, afterall you're a very rich nation and you can afford to do so.
- ChristianQuestion11:40, 21/02/2013It would be interested though to know why the official changed his decision as to preventing them to take the little child with them. This point could reveal a network of human trafficking and corruption, who gave the order to deliver the child despite the officials decision no to do so? This person should be called into an investigation and questioned seriously!?
- jozzyozAdoptions Should Be Done Away With07:44, 25/02/2013Let us say this too bad its now Russian Federal Law and after this latest murder in Texas adoptions by US families should be done away with ... its time the Russian Federal Adoption agencies get their act together and place these kids with Russian families in CIS countries only! This will strengthen the Russian Federation not hurt it!
Image Galleries: North Pole: Living on the Top of the World
Infographics: Powerful Ship-Borne Laser System
Cartoons: Polar Explorer Day
The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.