Is Russia About to Ban the U.S. From Adopting Its Children?

In a move that risks escalating tensions between the U.S. and Russia, Russian lawmakers this week passed a bill that would effectively ban U.S. citizens from adopting Russian-born children, a move that President Vladimir Putin has said he could support.

Speaking on Thursday December 20, at what was the first presidential news conference of his third term, Putin said that while he would have to examine the exact language of the bill before reaching his final conclusion, he felt the ban was an “emotional but adequate” response to recent American human rights legislation that would restrict Russian visas.

Putin did, however, sound a note of caution regarding the legislation, reportedly saying that most American adoptive parents are “honest and decent people.” Still, he went on to vigorously defend the proposed ban when questioned by a journalist over the imprudence of the bill.

Reports the New York Times:

“This is about the attitude of American officials in situations involving the violation of children’s rights,” he said, after a Russian journalist criticized the proposed ban. “Do you consider this normal? You like this? What are you, a sadomasochist? There is no need to humiliate the country! We do not forbid adoption by foreigners in general. There are other countries besides the United States.”

The move is almost certainly a reaction to the U.S.-authored Magnitsky Act, passed this month, which introduced sanctions on Russian alleged human rights violators. The legislation, signed by President Obama on December 14, is intended to punish Russian officials who are believed to have been responsible for the death of Russian lawyer and whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and putting financial restrictions on their U.S. dealings.

The adoption ban, which has moved through Russia’s Duma at break-neck speed, might not sound like it should give the U.S. pause, but the move does strike as being incredibly spiteful when one realizes that, as the BBC reports, the rate of adoption is very low inside Russia and, with some 3,400 Russian children adopted by foreign families in 2011, nearly a third of them by Americans, there is a considerable reliance on foreign adoption.

A separate BBC report quantifies this further:

Americans have adopted around 60,000 Russian children over the past 20 years, with 19 recorded deaths among them. Over the same period, 1,500 orphans died in Russian adoptive families, according to the Russian prosecutor-general’s office.

The legislation would effectively sever a bilateral agreement on international adoptions that was ratified earlier this year, one that could potentially have stood to benefit thousands of Russia’s orphans. Indeed, the only ones that really stand to be hurt by this ban seems to be Russian-born children. As such, the move has proved controversial, with a number of senior officials having spoken out against the ban even while harshly criticizing U.S. foreign policy.

The legislation must now be taken up by the Federal Assembly, the upper legislative chamber. Should the upper chamber give its nod to the legislation, Putin could still decide to veto or request changes, but the fact that he has decided to voice his support for the bill’s principle would appear to demonstrate a desire to hit back at the U.S. that would not tally with later getting cold feet.

What impact this will have with the U.S. remains to be seen but, given Putin’s harsh comments during Thursday’s lengthy news conference that the U.S. was attempting to start a new Cold War, any meaningful action toward better relations seems unlikely.


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Image credit: World Economic Forum.


Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M4 years ago

Kathy C-just a word on your comment. While our adoption experience began 18 yrs ago, it was quite different than you describe. We did not look to Russia for the 'perfect white newborn'-hardly, as the only 'available children had 'issues' and were older. The US was dealing with several cases of biological mothers, who even after 2 yrs, were able to legally regain custody of their child, despite a lawful adoption. Imagine a 2 y/o, crying & screaming, ripped from the arms of the only parents he/she had ever known because the biological mother found a legal loophole. While not the typical adoption experience, the risks of open adoption or the mother changing her mind were far too great. Also, as a white couple, we were told we were ineligible for adoption of any other race. There were limited options available in the US & long waiting lists. Foreign adoption seemed more viable & expedient. Those children needed loving families, too. We are not bigots. We adopted our 2 boys from Russia, a daughter from Albania and a daughter from China. No regrets. Be cautious when you judge or criticize those who embark on the adoption journey. It is not for the feint of heart. Every aspect of your life is scrutinized. It is a tremendous commitment requiring much time, energy & resources. But mostly, love.

Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M4 years ago

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: the Russian government has absolutely no interest in the welfare of its children. They warehouse their orphans like so many cattle, in conditions that make boot camp look like paradise, causing physical, emotional and psychological distress which results in life long conditions such as Reactive Attachment Disorder, among many others. Those who do survive the system are thrown out, unprepared, at an early age to fend for themselves. The lucky few are adopted, often with long term chronic conditions. When we adopted our 2 sons 18 yrs ago, we had to jump thru every imaginable hoop to prove we were fit parents to save them from their hellhole existence. That the Russians are now looking for excuses to stop adoptions when they will not care for their own, does not surprise me. The atrocities committed against these innocents is an outrage. The Russian government should rot in hell for their abuses, neglect and treatment of their own children.
And Nikolas K-I don't have to "believe" the media, I've been there. Have you been inside a Russian orphanage?

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

What an idiotic bill. I would rather grow up in the U.S as a child then live in that sad sack of potaoes called Russia.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

This is tragic for all those poor children who have no one to love them.

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley5 years ago

A very sad day for the innocent children who will lose out on loving homes because of this.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon5 years ago

How sad that children in need of homes and loving families should be denied the possibility of having them because two nations are at odds about another matter.

Paul Kline
Paul Kline5 years ago

Please let Putin know it is NOT OK! sign this petition:

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Thanks for a great article,

SLK S5 years ago

sadly it's always the innocent who are caught in the crossfire

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K5 years ago

Putin is one of the better leaders in our world he loves his people and his country. Do not believe what your media paints him as. At least he is not running around the world killing innocent women and children and claiming collateral damage which is important to get control of a nations assets for free such as oil or re establishment of the CIA heroin trade in Afghanistan to name a couple. We even had the American creation of the Georgian crisis exposed on CNN when a survivor spoke out about who was to blame . Wake up all is not what it appears to be.