Ban on Adoptions from Russia
Irene Jordan, LCSW-C, International Program Director
Since 1992, American families have adopted over 60,000 children from Russia. Adoptions Together placed 700 of those children with our families between 1992 (when we opened the Russia program) and 2011 (when we closed our Russia program). We feel a strong connection to our families, and have ongoing contact with many of them. We know that having a family has been very beneficial to the children placed from Russian orphanages. It therefore was very sad for us when President Putin announced a ban on the adoption of Russian children by American families. The ban went into effect on January 1, 2013.
The impact of this ban was immediately experienced by American families who had been in the process of adopting a child from Russia. There are 50 families who had already completed a court hearing in Russia, but had not yet received the required Russian documents in order to be able to receive placement of the child and return home with the child. When the ban was first announced, it was not clear whether or not these families would be able to complete the process to bring home the children that had legally been adopted. On January 22 the Russian Supreme Court issued a letter to city and regional courts stating that for adoption cases in which there was a court decision prior to January 1, the children should be transferred to the custody of their American adoptive parents. However news reports on February 19 of the death of a 3-year old Russian adoptee in Texas add still more uncertainty, as Russian officials allege that the child died as a result of abuse.
The adoption ban has also affected an estimated 500 to 1000 families who were earlier in the process of adopting a child from Russia and had not yet completed a court hearing. The Russian government has given no indication that those families will be able to proceed. Those families are faced with the decision of considering an adoption from another foreign country, or considering a domestic adoption. Our agency is working with some families who had completed a home study through our agency, intending to adopt a child from Russia through another placement agency. Our agency is available to give guidance and support to these families who are now seeking other options.
Perhaps the greatest impact of the adoption ban will be on the children remaining in Russian orphanages. These children will not have the opportunity to be adopted by American families. Many of these children will not be adopted by Russian families or by families from other countries. At Adoptions Together we believe that children flourish when they have a permanent, loving family. It is tragic to think of the children who could have had a family, but now will remain in an orphanage.
Children who were adopted from Russia may hear the news reports about the ban, and may have questions. Parents should respond to these questions as appropriate to the child’s developmental level. Parents can use this as an opportunity to talk with the child about his/her own adoption. Parents can emphasize how glad they are and how lucky they feel that the child is a part of their family. Our agency offers on-going workshops and counseling for any families that may need help with talking to their child about his/her adoption.
Irene S. Jordan, LCSW-C