The children are pawns in a political disagreement between Russia and the USA. The verdict has been sealed. Today Reuters announced that President Vladimir Putin signed a bill on Friday to ban the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Six children whose adoption has been approved prior to the signing of the new law will get to go to America, the application for 46 children which were still in process are cancelled. The law has enraged the USA and Russian citizens alike.
CNN reports, “The action could affect hundreds of American families seeking to adopt. Americans adopted close to 1,000 Russian children last year, according to U.S. State Department figures.”
The new law does not stop there, according to Reuters, “The legislation, whose text was issued by the Kremlin, will also outlaw some non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. funding and impose a visa ban and asset freeze on Americans accused of violating the rights of Russians abroad.”
“Washington has called the new Russian law misguided, saying it ties the fate of children to “unrelated political considerations”, and analysts say it is likely to deepen a chill in U.S.-Russia relations and harm Putin’s image abroad. ..Pro-Kremlin lawmakers initially drafted the bill to mirror the U.S. Magnitsky Act, which bars entry to Russians accused of involvement in the death in custody of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and other alleged rights abuses.” According to CNN it , imposes U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia.
The sad thing according to CNN is, “The Russian bill’s implementation nullifies a recent agreement between the United States and Russia in which the countries agreed to additional safeguards to protect children and parties involved in inter-country adoptions.”
The adoption restrictions were added later when the relations between the two countries were already strained. Putin is under sharp criticism for his strict policies. He reported he will improve child care in his orphanages. Still, that is not enough, Putin has been criticized for holding the orphans hostage for political gain.
However, Russian officials say the deaths of 19 Russian children in America motivated this dramatic political move. There are also nine cases pending against American families who have been allegedly “threatening the lives and health” 12 of Russian children.
On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal reported, “Adoption advocates in the U.S. have pointed out that U.S. families have adopted Russian orphans who have severe medical problems. Such adoptees often benefit from U.S. programs for disabled children, they say, noting that Russia doesn’t offer corresponding services.”
The United Nations plea to Russia was not accepted. Executive Director Anthony Lake said, “We ask that the Government of Russia, in its design and development of all efforts to protect children, let the best interests of children – and only their best interests – determine its actions,”
The strain in relations between the USA and Russia over the Syrian crisis, humanitarian issues and now the adoption ban and other political differences has Russian officials worried. “It’s a very, very real possibility,” Khodorkovsky said of the chance that Canada, the U.K. and other countries in Europe may take action.
Canadians are wondering if this latest political crisis between the USA and Russia will hinder Canadian adoptions. ”Canada is piling pressure on Russia to help end the bloody political crisis in Syria. So far no strain has been put on Canadian adoptions.”
The Canadian Immigration office is centered in Moscow. However, Canadians can’t just adopt from anywhere — due to political relationships and international laws, children from certain countries aren’t permitted to be adopted at all. Currently, Canadians cannot adopt from Georgia, Guatemala, Liberia, Nepal and Cambodia (though the latter is permitted in Quebec). Adoptions from Haiti have also been suspended since 2010 in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan.