Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on the ratification of agreements with the United States and France, which should ensure control over the fate of Russian children who are brought up in foreign families and to prevent cruel treatment of children.
These documents, especially an agreement with the US, are Moscow’s initiative: such was its answer to a series of tragic events involving adopted Russian children. The case of a seven-year-old boy, Artyom Tarasov, who was put on a plane heading for Moscow from Washington on April 8, 2010 by his adoptive mother Torry-Ann Hansen, became the straw that broke the camel's back. Unfortunately his story is not the most heartwrenching. Another Russian boy, Vanya Skorobogatov, adopted by the Cravers from the US, died after having been beaten in 2009. Although the judges acknowledged that the adoptive parents were guilty, they released them in the courtroom because the year and a half they had spent in prison waiting for the verdict was counted into the sentence. An equally soft verdict was given in the case of Theresa McNulty who abused her adopted Russian daughter and was sentenced to only 2 years in prison.
And one more thing here. The lawyers of the Craver spouses made an attempt to prove that the boy was insane, which became the reason for his death, and Torry-Ann Hansen filed a lawsuit against the Russian Ombudsman for Children’s Rights, Pavel Astakhov, because he called her a “foster mother”. Moscow has emphasized more than once many instances where US courts have issued extremely light sentences to US adoptive parents, to the detriment of the Russian children involved. Ombudsman for Children’s Rights in Moscow Yevgeny Bunimovich says:
"These are very important documents. As you know, the US has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Therefore it is not clear what documents were used to regulate the adoption process earlier."
The agreements with the US and France have been worked out with due regard to the Russian legislation and taking into account positive experience with Italy in this field. They say that all candidates should undergo special training and give information about their social status and psychological condition, Vice-President of the Moscow-based Foundation for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Alexander Spivak said:
"In view of the above-mentioned, the ratification of the agreements on the adoption of Russian children could only be welcomed because the legislation standards regulating such issues in Russia and the US are different. The new agreement will create common ground in relations between the two countries in the field of adoption. And one more thing here. Such agreements are helpful in resolving conflict situations. This is a great step forward."
And still, Russia’s Foreign Ministry has doubts about the responsibility of the US regarding the adoption process. The point is that there are hundreds of Russian children in the US now who were adopted by US citizens, and the fate of many of them remains unknown. Another incident involving a Russian boy, Daniil Kruchinin, occurred in the US a week ago. The boy who ran away from his adoptive parents was later discovered by the local police. The policemen discovered traces of abuse on his body. A lawsuit has been brought against his adoptive parents in the US but there is no guarantee that they will be punishable by law.
There is no doubt that a legal basis enabling Russia to control the fate of adopted children is a dire necessity. It should make the adoption process more civilized and the life of adopted children safer. Russia plans to achieve this, acting within the framework of the Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility which it joined this May.