As a pediatrician and adoption medicine specialist for the past 25 years, I am not surprised by the recent threats to close adoption in Russia yet again.
My perspective is that international adoption from Russia to the US has never been a cooperative and strategic endeavor. I have experienced yearly moratoria and threats of closure over and over again. Thousands of families were affected during my tenure, and I watched children and parents held hostage to a system that was never smooth or collaborative. It was, in fact, a patchwork of regional decisions that kept it going and the Dumas was always a signature away from ending adoption.
Three years ago, when a little boy was sent back alone on a flight to Russia by his adoptive parent in Tennessee, advocates of adoption from not-for-profit organizations and high level US State Department officials kept adoption going. I was never happy with any of these so-called saves because the underlying issues for orphans didn't get resolved. Millions of orphans remain in very poorly run institutions in Russia and other countries around the world and the loss of human potential is the real tragedy.
Adoption is a drop in the bucket and not the solution for all of these unfortunate kids who, like in our own country, are from dysfunctional and impoverished families who need social workers, economic strength, and education to help themselves be families and take care of their kids. We have kids in foster care and group homes in the US suffering from the same societal deterioration as Russia. Over the past 50 years, we rearranged their location out of institutions into some of the worst conditions in foster care, though that system is slowly changing city by city in the US, thankfully.
I see this moment and its lack of perspective as really sad. We all need to go deeper and do better to advocate and protect children globally. It is self-indulgent to think that the reprieve from the Dumas will make a difference long-term. It is a moment to hop up and down and to make a stand, but nothing gets fixed.
We need a wider strategic plan for every bad moment when children can't have permanency and can't have what they are entitled to have: quite simply safety and love.
Dr. Jane Aronson
Founder and CEO, Worldwide Orphans Foundation