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Adoption of orphaned children increasing in Russia

January 17, 2014, 19:24 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
Children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov with orphans

Children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov with orphans

© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Bobylev

MOSCOW, January 17. /ITAR-TASS/. Number of orphaned children who are eventually adopted by families is growing in Russia after the endorsement of a law prohibiting adoptions of little Russian children by the Americans but many orphans are still living at orphanage houses.

The law produced a highly variegated reaction in Russian society -- and played a fair role, too, as it pushed the problem of orphans and adoptions into limelight.

The law banning adoptions of Russian children by American families, dubbed later the Dima Yakovlev law after a little Russian boy who had died in the U.S. because of maltreatment by adoptive parents, took effect at the beginning of 2013. Although its contents are subject to debate, the government got down to tackling the problem of orphaned children in practical terms after its passage, albeit tangible achievements are still some way off.

Moscow has taken the course at enabling the Russians to adopt the orphaned kids without looking for assistance from abroad.

Speaking frankly and openly, no one puts any obstacles to the adoption of children in Russia by the nationals of Western countries beside the U.S. and the nations where same-sex marriages have been legitimized.

Last year, Russian families agreed to foster 65,600 orphans, thus marking an increase of 6.7% over the previous year, the Russian presidential ombudsman for the rights of children, Pavel Astakhov, said at the beginning of December 2013.

More specifically, he said that Russia had 643,757 orphans at the moment. “Most of them are being brought up in adoptive, foster and patronage families and another 107,000 or so children are living at refuges for children,” the ombudsman said.

“We didn’t lose anything over the past year and, on the contrary, scored a few achievements,” he continued. “Many regions in our country dropped the practice of handing over orphaned children for adoption to couples from abroad. For the first time ever in recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of a waiting list /of the families willing/ to adopt children.”

“As of January 1, 2013, almost 20,000 Russians wanted to take children to their families for fostering - a situation that would have scarcely been conceivable some five years,” Astakhov.

Transition of the Dima Yakovlev law into legal effect made it impossible for American couples to adopt 259 Russian orphans and neglected children. As for today, almost a half of the children on that list have been transferred to adoptive families - in Russia and abroad likewise.

“A total of 59 children have been transferred to the families of Russian nationals and another 64 children have found home in the families of foreigners /but not Americans - Itar-Tass/,” Astakhov said. “Also, the Russian mother of one of the children was reinstated in her parental rights and one more kid was returned to his parents upon their written representation.”

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with leading Russian TV channels in December he agreed with the postulations that adoption was a very cumbersome and touchy issue, yet he said the steps taken by the authorities had made it possible to breathe a new life into the process of adoptions across the country.

The Dima Yakovlev law gave the go-ahead to a reform of Russia’s family legislation. The formalities involved in the procedure of adoptions were reduced considerably and supplementary measures aimed at support of the Russians adopting children were introduced.

The pruning embraced various legal procedures and formalities preceding the adoption. The parents adopting a second child or subsequent children now do not have to process of a full package of documents, the way they would have to previously.

Updated laws stipulate the right to a free high-tech medical assistance, including courses of medical treatment abroad. The children staying back at orphanage houses and the ones adopted by families enjoy a guaranteed right to extended preventive medical examinations, which would cover only the state-run orphanage homes previously.

Russian MPs are reconsidering the clauses of the family code concerning the termination of parental rights and removal of children from families. They criticize the existing regulations as vague and subjective.

The government is drafting a bill that will permit the setting-up of an institute of professional adoptive parents - the ones who would be bringing up children upon licenses and would have specialized training. When ‘professionals’ of this kind appear, custodianship supervision services will get an opportunity to place children to substitute families and to bypass institutions for orphans and/or neglected kids.

An opinion poll on adoptions by families abroad that was taken in November by the Fund for Support to Needy Children showed that 24% of those polled had an unfavorable attitude to international adoptions, while 11% were encouraging it and even thinking that the transfer of orphaned and neglected children to foreign was desirable due to a degradation of Russia’s own population, Moskovsky Komsomolets daily said.

Along with it, only 16% respondents said they were ready to adopt a child themselves.

And what is the reason behind the Russians’ reluctance to admit alien children to their families? Respondents pointed to poverty, overly small apartments and houses, shortage of confidence in the future, and poor state support.

MP Olga Batalina disagrees with it strongly. “Here in Russia, everything boils down to money in the final run whatever the problem,” she said. “The state is supposed to help, to allocate funds, and so on and so forth but many experts believe however that assistance to adoptive parents is more than sufficient today.”

“Take a lump-sum allowance of 100,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles that’s paid out for every child upon adoption,” she said. “One of the substitute parents (those who will foster and will not adopt a child) gets from 5,500 rubles to 13,000 rubles a month in as a monthly benefit and a salary of 7,000 to 15,000 rubles. And if you take Moscow City, both adoptive parents get these payments.


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