The American Adoption Controversy
Ever since we launched this trip on Sept. 1, we've been getting emails and comments from Americans who've adopted Russian children. Many have asked us to do a blog posting on the issue, and it's certainly worthy of one, as it's a major new trend since 1995. Americans now reportedly adopt more children from Russia than from any other foreign country except China.
In fact, I came here in 2003 with a friend who was adopting a little girl from the orphanage in Tula, about three hours' drive south of Moscow. I'd only visited one other Russian orphanage -- in St. Petersburg in 1995 -- and the conditions there were pretty dire. So I was pleasantly surprised to find the Tula orphanage clean, well-equipped and well-staffed. My friend adopted her daughter, a blonde fireball named Anna, and since then they've been enjoying a happily-ever-after life in the Washington suburbs.
But the issue of Americans adopting Russian children has provoked lots of controversy here lately, with commentators raising questions such as: should Americans be free to take so many children (reportedly about 6,000 a year, as of 2004) out of Russia? Does the $10,000-plus price tag on many adoptions equate to an "exporting" of children? Should international adoptions be considered only as a "last resort"?
Fueling the debate here was a July incident in which an American adoptive mother allegedly killed her Russian child -- a case that lit up the Russian airwaves and print media. This closely followed news of a manslaughter conviction for another American mother whose six-year-old Russian child had died. Both these cases inflamed anti-American-adoption sentiment in Russia.
Yet the question remains -- what can, or should, be done with the rising number of Russian orphans? The Russian Ministry of Education reports that over the last 10 years, the number of abandoned and orphaned children has risen sharply. Official estimates put the number at about 700,000 Russian orphans. And Russian families are historically averse to adoption, which continues to bear a stigma here that's been slowly disappearing in the U.S.
I'm curious to hear readers' experiences with adoption in Russia -- especially anyone who has adopted more than once. How difficult or easy was it? Did you meet with any resistance from Russians, either officially or unofficially?
Happy October Revolution Day, everyone! This used to the be the biggest day of hoopla on the Communist calendar, but now it's just another Monday -- except in Moscow, where Mayor Luzhkov has inexplicably planned a big military parade on Red Square, complete with Soviet-style banners and giant medals. It'll be the first time tanks have rolled across Red Square since the fall of the Soviet Union. So don't be afraid to celebrate old-style tonight, with a shot of vodka and a pickle chaser!
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