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Laws like this are a genuine cause for outrage

24 December 2012 

Source: (info)
Boris Altshuler, chair of the Russian advocacy group Right of the Child, in an interview with the New York Times, described the proposed ban on adoptions of Russian children by US citizens as the latest in a long series of bad policy decisions related to housing, education and social services.

"Photos the size of postage stamps, along with a few data points and a note about their personalities, often just a word or two,” the New York Times. “This is Russia’s ‘federal database of orphans and children without parental care,’ a publicly available electronic repository of the forlorn and forgotten — more than 118,000 of them,” writes journalist David M Herszenhorn.

Child-welfare advocates say that it is orphans like these who are likely to be hurt most if Russian lawmakers succeed in banning adoptions by Americans.

“The advocates say a ban would end up further fraying a disastrously overwhelmed foster care and orphanage system here,”  the article continues.

The bill has sparked fierce debate in Russia with, the article notes, “critics of the ban using the moment to focus attention on Russia’s troubled child protection system, even as supporters say they are trying to keep children out of foreign hands.”

The following statistics are cited by the article: more than 650,000 children are living without parental supervision in Russia, while in the US there are around 400,000. In Russia, more than 100,000 of these children live in children's homes. By contrast, in the US, only about 58,000 are living in institutions or group homes.” Moreover, America has a population more than twice Russia’s.

“Mr. Altshuler,” the article notes, “described the proposed adoption ban as the latest in a long series of bad policy decisions related to housing, education and social services, resulting in a system that actually encourages parents in financial trouble to cede custody of their children to the state, at least temporarily.” Mr. Altshuler also says of children’s institutions that “many are ill-equipped to deal with the wide array of physical and mental problems common among the children, including fetal alcohol syndrome and congenital disabilities.” He also called the deputies proposing the bill “cannibals”. 

Supporters of the law claim that the US government does not do enough to ensure the welfare of adopted children from Russia. “There is a strong nationalist streak in their arguments, occasionally ugly cases have generated international attention,” says the author.

Yekaterina F. Lakhova, a member of Parliament and sponsor of the ban, is quoted as saying that “no normal, economically developed country gives away their children.” The article connects the issue with Putin's attempts to restore Russia's status as a world power. Insisting that Russia no longer requires aid, the Kremlin recently ordered the United States Agency for International Development to end its operations in the country. However, the article points out that “public health advocates said that many programs, like those fighting tuberculosis and HIV, are sorely lacking” in the country. 

In any case, the ban has provoked a huge storm of public criticism, noted the author, with even senior Russian officials speaking out against it.

Source: The New York Times