How the Recent Russian Adoption Scandal May Affect Future Adoptions
A Tennessee family recently returned their seven year old adopted son, Artyom Savelyev, to Russia by putting him on a plane alone. A letter accompanying the child described him as mentally unstable. This action sparked investigations in the U.S. and caused the Russian government to consider blocking further adoptions of Russian children by U.S. parents. How does this case impact families who are in the process of adopting from Russia, or considering adopting in the future?
Following Savelyev’s return to Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a suspension on future adoptions from Russia by U.S. citizens until the U.S. and Russia can finalize an agreement that will safeguard the future of adopted children. About 1,600 Russian children were adopted by Americans in 2009. At this time, there are approximately 3,000 American families in the process of trying to adopt from Russia. The news on how these families will be affected has been both confusing and contradictory.
Over the past decade, there have been some deaths of children who were adopted from Russia by Americans. Those cases have fueled debates among Russian officials on whether adoptions of Russian children by Americans should continue. Despite the fact that the majority of adoptions are successful, this latest issue has further damaged the image of American families in the eyes of Russian citizens and officials.
There has been no official notice from the Russian Ministry of Education that adoptions by U.S. citizens are closing. However, it has been widely reported that at least some adoptions have been delayed as a result of the recent incident. A delegation of U.S. officials recently traveled to Russia to meet with Russian officials to try to hammer out an agreement that will safeguard the health and welfare of Russian children adopted by Americans. The first round of talks took place on April 29 in Moscow.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is continuing to schedule and issue immigrant visas for adopted children. Families who have been notified that their adoptions have been postponed should notify the U.S. Department of State of their postponement via email at RussiaAdoption@state.gov. Neither the Department of State nor the U.S. Embassy can intervene with Russian courts on any individual cases. The Department of State advises that any family affected by delays should speak with their adoption service providers or legal representatives about whether inquiries can be made to Russian courts about their case status. Families who are in the process of adopting from Russia but do not yet have a court date should stay in close contact with their adoption service providers and check the http://adoption.state.gov website regularly for updates.
For families waiting to bring a child home from Russia, the most productive way to spend this difficult and uncertain time is by seeking out educational resources on what to expect when the child comes home. Developmental delays, emotional problems, and unexpected physical problems and syndromes are a possibility that all potential adoptive parents, both domestic and international, should consider. Better education and preparation may lead to fewer conflicts once the child arrives.
Sources: http://adoption.state.gov;article entitled, "Russian Boy's Return Casts Pall Over Adoptions" from www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126025836&ft=1&f=1022, and abcnews.com at the following page: http://abcnews.go.com/International/returned-russian-adoptee-artyom-saveliev-celebrates-8th-birthday/story?id=10393446