Putin bans US adoption

Citizens in the United States of America have a history of adopting orphaned children from various other countries. Since the year 1999, almost 234,000 orphaned children have been adopted, by US citizens, from other countries. According to the United States Bureau of Consular Affairs, the three countries with the most adoptions by US citizens are China, Russia, and Ethiopia with 66,630, 45,112, and 11,524 children adopted from each country respectively since 1999. However, despite the fact that Russia has been a popular country for adoptions in the past, the future holds a much different picture.

Recently President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that will effectively ban all adoption of Russian children by US citizens. The bill first passed with an overwhelming majority in the Duma, Russia’s lower house, and within the week was signed by Putin. Russian supporters of this bill state that it was made in response to human rights violations committed by the adoptive parents of Russian children. These supporters look to events such as the death of Dima Yakovlev, who was a toddler who died of heatstroke in 2008 after being left in a car for hours, as evidence that US citizens are danger to Russian children and unfit to care for them. Some 19 deaths of Russian children adopted by US citizens have occurred in the past two decades, and those in support of this bill spin these deaths to paint a negative picture of US citizens and the United States as a whole.

Despite the claims of these supporters, it seems far more likely that this bill was written and passed in response to a bill signed by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2012. This bill is called the Magnitsky Act, and imposes financial and US travel restrictions on Russian officials who have been listed as human rights abusers. Due to the waning foreign relations between the United States and Russia, it is far more likely that this political action by the Russian government is simply retaliation and not an act seeking to protect the safety of their orphaned children.

Roughly 740,000 children are currently orphaned in Russia and live solely dependent on state care. Unfortunately for these children, the United States has been the leading foreign destination for adopted children, which means that an average of 3,000 children each year will no longer be adopted. It is likely that most of these 740,000 children will experience emotional distress throughout much of their childhood and adolescence. In many cases, it has taken Russian-born children months to even show signs of positive emotions after their adoption because such emotions are simply not present in the Russian state care system.

While it is clear that many US citizens will be heartbroken by the effects of this bill, the state of Minnesota has been one of the leading states for adoptions in general, and the leading state for adoptions of Russian children. Therefore many more Minnesotans may feel the full force of this bill than families throughout the rest of the country.