MOSCOW – Upwards of 20,000 Russians marched through Moscow Jan. 13 to protest the country’s new ban on adoption by Americans, as confusion continued to swirl over the law’s immediate impact.
The Kremlin reportedly announced Jan. 10 that the law won’t take effect for one year due to a 2011 bilateral adoption agreement between the U.S. and Russia, The Washington Post reported. That agreement says adoptions can continue for one year even after one party withdraws from it. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the ban on American adoptions in December.
But for couples who are trying to finish adoptions that already are under way, any one-year delay is not yet evident. The New York Times reported the story of Rebecca and Brian Preece, a couple from Idaho who were in Moscow Monday (Jan. 14) trying to bring home their new 4-year-old son, who has Down syndrome. A judge had approved their adoption Nov. 29 but another judge on Tuesday (Jan. 14) said she could not sign a final decree “without further guidance from Russia’s Supreme Court.” And even if she signed it, she said, “there was no guarantee that other officials would issue the boy a passport,” The Times reported. And even if he got a passport, “immigration agents might block his departure at the airport.”
Alla V. Prozorova, an adoption expert knowledgeable about Russian adoptions, said the ban harms children because Americans are unique in their willingness to adopt children with disabilities.
“People who are involved in this problem – I mean even higher-level authorities – they know only Americans really volunteer to adopt special needs children,” she told The Times. “No Italian, no French, no Germans.”
Estimates vary over the number of children in Russia who are orphaned but most put it at more than 100,000. Putin signed the law as a retaliatory response to U.S. sanctions against Russia for human rights abuses.
One Russian orphan, 14-year-old Maxim Kargapoltsev, went public in his desire to have his adoption to a U.S. family finalized.
“I am very sorry,” he wrote on social media, according to The Washington Post, “that the law will not let me have a very good family in the future, the family that I have known and loved and whom I have become attached to. I like my motherland, but I would like to have a family in the U.S.”
The 20,000 or so Russians who marched against the ban shouted “shame on the scum” and carried posters of Putin and members of Russian’s parliament, according to the Associated Press (AP). It was a “far bigger number” of protesters than expected, AP said.
Unlike America, Russia does not have a strong adoption movement, and children often remain in orphanages until they are adults.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.)