International adoption: What does Russia want for lifting US adoption ban?
US officials are going to Moscow to discuss Russian demands to lift an international adoption ban on children going to the US. In the wake of the Artyem Savelyev case, Russians will likely demand more government oversight of American families.
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A ban on independent adoptions?
One good thing that may come out of the scandal, she says, is that the practice of "independent adoptions" may be finally banned throughout Russia.Skip to next paragraph
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Most of the 15 Russian children who have died in US homes over the past two decades have been adopted independently, without the mediation of an accredited international adoption agency, a process that critics have long alleged to be short on background checking of prospective parents and susceptible to corruption.
But Nina Ostanina, a member of the State Duma's committee for family, women and children and author of a draft law on adoptions, says there are substantive – and draconian – demands that the Russian side should make.
"We want some supervision over the way a child adjusts into the new family," she says. "The way the system works now is that the adoption agency provides regular reports, but we want this job to be done by US social services and that the results be shared with consular services of Russia... If the child doesn't feel well in the new family, or parents realize they can't cope, the Russian side wants the right to bring the child back to Russia. Why is it that, upon crossing the border, children lose all connection with their Motherland?"
Power to interfer in US homes?
In practice, that would give Russian officials at least indirect power to interfere in American households, which would seem to explain why the US has so far resisted signing a bilateral agreement on adoptions with Moscow.
But Ms. Ostanina says Italy has already concluded a similar deal, and that nine other countries are negotiating about it with Russia.
"All we want to do is prevent abuse of children, or see any more cases where they are returned to us as if they were a parcel," she says.
Tatiana Tulchinskaya, director of the independent Moscow-based Here and Now Foundation, which works with orphans, says any deal that's struck is likely to be mostly declarative in nature.
"In Artyem's case, there was a report about his life in the family but it contained no alarming signs. I cannot imagine how that happened," she says. "There already are enough safeguards in existing legislation, the problem is to make them work... .Maybe the regulations can be toughened and reports might be sent until the child is older," she says. "I suppose that officials of the Russian embassy might engage in supervision, in addition to local social services, but, frankly, I can't really imagine how that would work."
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