In the last week of 2012, President Vladimir V. Putin signed a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by American citizens. The action dealt a serious blow to an already strained diplomatic relationship, but for many immersed in the costly, complicated adoption process, the impact is deeply personal.
“I think it’s a real shame that those children in Russia are the ones that are going to be suffering,” said Michelle Goings, a mother of children adopted from Russia. “They need good homes, no matter where the parents come from.”
Michelle Goings and husband Jason adopted two boys from Russia and are part of a community locally in which around 30 children were placed in the Central Savannah River Area from one orphanage. The Goings family feel strongly about the change in policy, which will stop many other families having their lives enriched in the way they have.
The adoption ban has angered both Americans and Russians who argue it victimizes children to make a political point, cutting off a route out of frequently dismal orphanages for thousands. When signed into law, the bill not only stopped future adoptions but abruptly terminated the prospects of more than 50 youngsters preparing to join new families.
The new policy is reported to increase investment in the care of orphaned children and children with special needs.
However, Goings said she believes that the children in the Russian orphanages she witnessed are well taken care of but that the issue goes beyond care.
“That’s not the point. If there’s a chance for a placement in the families, it should be allowed to happen,” she said. “It’s just a shame.”
No matter how well the fostering services take care of children, “it’s still nothing like a home environment,” Goings added.
The ban is reported to be a response to a measure signed into law by President Barack Obama in November that calls for sanctions against Russians assessed to be human rights violators. Although some top Russian officials, including the foreign minister, openly opposed the bill, Putin signed it less than 24 hours after receiving it from Parliament, where it passed both houses overwhelmingly.
The law took effect Jan. 1, the Kremlin said. Children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said 52 children who were in the pipeline for U.S. adoption would remain in Russia.