Russia's adoption ban penalizes orphans
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Russia's ban on adoptions by American parents, considered a retaliatory response to U.S. sanctions against Russia for human rights abuses, will instead punish vulnerable orphans languishing in the foreign country, Christians at the forefront of the issue fear.
Moreover, the ban halts in mid-stream adoptions already initiated by American families ready to give homes to some of Russia's more than 120,000 orphans, said Southern Baptist Theological Seminary dean and administrator Russell Moore, who with his wife Maria adopted two sons from Russia.
"With this awful retaliation against his own nation's orphans, (Russian President) Vladimir Putin has demonstrated once again that he wants to be a tin-pot Stalinist governing a frozen banana republic," Moore told Baptist Press. "And, as it has been since the days of Pharaoh and Herod, when tyrants throw tantrums, children are caught in the crossfire. His action demonstrates the very human rights atrocities the Obama Administration rightly sought to sanction in the first place."
Moore, dean of Southern Seminary's School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration, called on the Russian Orthodox Church to "speak truth to power against the Putin Administration, and to place justice for orphans over nationalistic egoism."
CNN reports that Russian backers of the bill say American adoptive parents have been abusive, basing their accusation on a purported 19 deaths of Russian children by their adoptive parents since the 1990s. But the ban is widely viewed as retaliation to the Magnitsky Act, a law President Obama signed in December 2012, barring Russians accused of violating human rights from traveling to the U.S. and from owning real estate or other assets here.
Bill Blacquiere, president and chief financial officer of the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services, said the ban is wrongheaded.
"While we understand that Russia's intent for this bill is to protect vulnerable children, we believe it will actually end up causing more harm to these already hurting children who are in need of the love and nurturing of a forever family," Blacquiere told BP. "We agree completely that every child adopted in the U.S. and abroad has the right to the utmost measure of safety and protection from harm, but the solution to addressing those issues is through the implementation of higher adoption criteria and standards aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of all children placed for adoption."
Blacquiere expressed optimism that adoptions already initiated might be completed, saying that it is unclear how the ban will affect families in the midst of finalizing adoptions.
"We are hopeful that families who have already begun the process of adopting through Russia will be allowed to continue that process through to completion," Blacquiere said.
According to adoption agencies in the U.S., 200 to 250 sets of parents are in the middle of adopting children from Russia, The New York Times reported. The U.S. State Department urges American families in the process of adopting from Russia to register with the department for updates and potential assistance, according to The Times.
Moore said Russian orphans will suffer from the ban.
"It would be one thing if there were an adoption culture in the former Soviet Union, with families willing to receive the orphans languishing in these horrific institutions. Instead, these orphans will age out of the system to a typical life of substance abuse, homelessness, prostitution and sex-trafficking, or suicide," he said. "The Bible tells us that God hears the cries of the orphan, the sojourner, the marginalized, and that He will not hold their oppressors guiltless. Let's pray for the orphans to have mothers and fathers and for the great people of Russia to be governed by just rulers rather than by leftover KGB thugs."
From 1999 to 2011, American parents adopted 45,112 children from Russia, according to U.S. State Department statistics.
Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).