Russian Adoptions, Financial Skulduggery, and National Pride -
Vladimir Putin has said he’ll sign a bill from Russia’s parliament that bars Americans from adopting Russian children; given that it was his United Russia party that spearheaded the ban through the rubber-stamp Duma, his promise is no surprise. While the “fate” of Russian adoptees in America has been a long-running trope in Russia, always kept at a near boil by equal parts national shame, jingoism, and genuine concern for children, the spur for this ban was a U.S. swipe not at kids but some dodgy legislators, cops, and judges.
Most Western news sources have focused on the tiff, and not the checkered history of the adoption racket (The New Yorker’s Masha Lipman is a welcome exception).
Sociologist Natalie Cherot wrote for us in our early days that international adoption is routinely a fraught process, commonly seeing fraud and corruption charges. As she wrote in 2008:
When the topic of enforcing international adoption laws comes up, people usually assume it involves irregularities in the adoption process, including kidnapping and coercing birth parents to give up their babies.
This is what has happened in Guatemala, where an estimated 1 percent of the country’s total babies born in 2006 landed in American homes as a result of lenient regulations and a lack of government oversight. In the African country of Chad, six members of a French charity received stiff prison sentences in December for allegedly stealing children who had parents with the intent of passing them off as orphans from Darfur.