On Friday Vladimir Putin signed a law banning American adoptions of Russian children. A move many thought was just a threat and not one he would actually go through with.
It was a completely irrational response to the much maligned, at least in Russia, Magnitsky Act.
Even avid Russia watchers and experts did not exactly see this one coming.
And on Tuesday, once the law has been enforced, good-hearted Americans who have decided to give a child half a world away another chance at life will be stuck in limbo.
Although much has been written about the stress and agony that American parents-to-be are going through, in the end, those who have the most to lose are the Russian children.
Especially the 46 children whose adoptions were nearly completed.
Although not all children in Russian orphanages are ill, most are. And the sick kids’ adoptions get approved over those who are NOT mentally or physically disabled.
It’s something of an unspoken but known fact in Russian circles–Russia rarely gives away its healthy kids.
And those who are not physically sick still have mental and psychological problems. Any child that had been through what they have probably would.
And even knowing that, American parents have opened their homes and hearts to these orphans.
Yes, there have been sporadic cases of abuse by American parents—but comparatively they are few and far between.
Unfortunately, only the tragic stories hit the airwaves and fill the newspapers in Russia.
Events like the yearly Easter tradition at the Russian embassy where adopted children and their American families come together to celebrate their Russian heritage barely get a mention.
Having actually covered such events, I was pleasantly surprised to see the amount of love and care these children now have.
Americans adopt more Russian children than any other foreign country, and Russia has over one hundred thousand children eligible to be adopted.
Having a child is a huge undertaking as it is. But taking in someone who is already ill, who does not speak the language, and is not a blood relative is a daunting task. Yet many Americans are up for the challenge.
So now, Putin has denied those children and many more the chance to live a fulfilled life.
There is really no other way to put it.
He was quoted as saying:
“There are probably many places in the world where living standards are better than ours….So what? Shall we send all children there, or move there ourselves?”
No Mr. Putin, you stay in Russia. But you can send the kids to us.