President Vladimir Putin of Russia signed the controversial bill that will ban American adoptions of Russian children, destroying the hopes of countless families simply trying to provide a loving, stable home life to a child in need.
The bill has gotten plenty of attention since its conception. It has been called a retaliation against the US for a human rights law, the Magnitsky Act, which denies entry to the United States for those accused of involvement in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer. It’s seen a political calculation that could very well damage Putin’s image in the rest of the world. The international relations community is calling the legislation a first step in the chilling of the US-Russian relationship.
But outside of all the political implications, this bill has some real-world consequences that can get overshadowed by the idea of feuding global powers. The real losers in this situation are the parents who have been doing everything right just trying to adopt a child into their family, and the little kids who need homes and now will be less likely to find them.
Reuters reports that there were 52 adoptions currently in place that have been cancelled. Those are 52 sets of parents who had rooms in their homes and places built into their lives for children that will never come. That’s 52 children who will stay in orphanages instead of making their way to loving homes.
These families and children aren’t concerned with international relations. They aren’t involved in politics. They’re just people looking to build families or find homes. And their caught up in an argument that is so much bigger than them.
The only good news, and I say that with a very measured tone, to come with this depressing bill is that Putin also signed a decree ordering improvement in the care of orphans. The decree was supposed to combat some of the negative press that has come with the adoption ban. More than 650,000 children are considered orphans in Russia, and in 2011, approximately 110,000 lived in state institutions. Americans have adopted more than 45,000 Russian children since 1999, including 962 last year.
The simple fact of the matter is that these children and the families that want to give them homes should be used for political posturing. Adoption should not be a bargaining chip in international negotiations. And it’s disgusting to see it be used as such.
Adoption is such a personal, emotional choice. It deserves everyone’s support and consideration. Thinking of those 52 families, some who have already visited and communicated with children they will no longer be able to bring home, my heart just aches. They deserve so much better than this treatment. And we should all come together and do whatever we can to help them get it.