19 October 2010

bilateral agreement pending

Remember Torry Hansen--the woman who sent her son back to a Russia on a plane alone? (I wrote a post in response to that event here as part of a JCICS campaign.)

Unsurprisingly, that event had cataclysmic repercussions for Americans who were/are adopting. In many regions adoptions simply stopped. Yes, this happens often in Russian adoption. But it doesn't get any easier for waiting families.

Leaders from the US and Russia have met together four (I think) times since then to craft a bilateral agreement--an agreement that works both ways.

I'm the beneficiary of a different bilateral agreement. Remember my magic card that I show when I get stopped while driving? It says that Russia and the US have a bilateral agreement whereby diplomats will not pay fines on the spot. This works great for me--and when would a Russian diplomat be stopped and asked to pay a "fine" in the US?

But, this current adoption bilateral agreement makes me uneasy. There was talk of Russian officials being able to come into your homes to see your child at any time. (That may have been scrapped. It may have just been talk. I don't know.) There is also talk of allowing Russians to adopt American children. The part that sits most uncomfortably with me comes when you read things like this (Sarah, waiting out the delay with her husband, Chad, to bring home their son had this on her blog.):

MOSCOW. Oct 4 (Interfax) - A Russian-American child adoption agreement will be signed no later than January 2011, Russian children's rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has informed me that the talks are well under way and in their final state. The negotiations are over. I hope the agreement will be signed in December, or, at the latest, in January," Astakhov said at a news conference at the main Interfax office on Monday.

The "technical" signing procedure does not require the presence of the presidents, Astakhov said.

He also said that the bilateral agreement allows Russian citizens to adopt American children, as well."I think an American child must be adopted out of principle. A reward must be assigned by some public organizations to those who adopt an American child first," Astakhov said.

Under Secretary for Political Affairs William Burns told Interfax in mid-September that the United States and Russia are in the final stage of the talks on an agreement to regulate child adoption procedures between the two countries.

Both parties are confident that the agreement will serve the interests of the United States and Russia, most important, the interests of children, he said.
Did you catch that? Here it is again:

"I think an American child must be adopted out of principle. A reward must be assigned by some public organizations to those who adopt an American child first," Astakhov said.

Out of principle. Not in the best interests of the child. OUT OF PRINCIPLE. And there will be a reward for the first Russian family to do so.

It makes me feel a little sick. And knowing what happens to adopted children here when the incentives run out...makes me worry and pray for that unknown child. Would he get sent back to the US or end up in a Russian orphanage? Would the media attention be enough to keep him safe?

Who's got better more up-to-date information? I'd love to hear. I've been off the adoption boards and out of the loop since Lexi came home. Anyone able to read between the lines and know what's really going on here?


votemom said...

have not heard this.... but it shouldn't surprise any of us.


Maura said...

Double yuck. I also have no further information. This makes me very sad - but sadly not surprised.

Tammy said...

Ummmm...yes, because I adopted my son as a commodity, not to create a family.

Just again goes to show you how little some people understand,

Barb said...

Yuck - I read that on Sara's blog and was thinking it was totally messed up. I have no idea about any of the facts though, ya know - living up here in my northern bubble. btw, I ordered the book you suggested on your last post. Something we need right now.

Annie said...

Well, frankly [I always have to play devil's advocate, it seems) why shouldn't Russians adopt American children? Maybe it is the perfect answer!

I've always wondered, in an odd sort of way, if the "baggage" that kids from foster care seem to carry with them here in the US is really PRECISELY THE SAME baggage that Russian orphanage kids carry with them in Russia. Russians are leery of orphanage kids. They have a prejudice. But many Americans (probably not those reading this blog) have a similar prejudice against US foster kids. And, probably, some of this prejudice on both sides is "legitimate", so to speak. Many of these children without families, in the US and in Russia, have experienced the same sorts of troubled background and because of it have emotional, educational and behavioral challenges.

Here is total honesty: Apart from my love of Russian culture, I have wondered if I would have been as comfortable adopting from US foster care. The traumas my kids experienced were bad, but remain for me in a blurry, and almost romanticized, distance. Whereas, I have an only-too-clear vision of the dirty, half-naked kids whalloped, and sworn at and left behind at the shelter where I've volunteered. I can imagine so vividly (as I've seen them) the vacant stares, the vulgar mouths, the evil glares of their parents. Maybe that's why I didn't think of adopting from foster care initially. I think I could, and would, do it now....but not initially. And, I've wondered - is it similar clear and repulsive images that color the typical Russian person's vision of the Russian orphanage child?

I guess I also think that if we feel troubled at the idea of Russians adopting American children, then we ought to be able to understand why Russians are disturbed at the idea of having us take their children.

As far as officials visiting our homes, I believe we already agree to that....at least that's what I was told. I've always been ready to ask them to have a cup of tea with us.

Unknown said...

Um, WHAT????

Jim said...

Astakhov is a little, well, special. The term "grandstanding blowhard" might be appropriate here. He is playing for political gain to a populace that understands little about the motivations of the foreigners adopting Russian children. Unfortunately, at the same time, he is perpetuating the idea that the children are not what's really important.

Fortunately, the vast majority of the people who adopt Russian children from abroad are trying to do what's right for the children. And the vast majority of those children are better off because of it.

beckyww said...


kate said...

Annie, I completely agree that your view of Russia and its orphanages is romanticized. ;>

It is not the allowing of adoptions that gives me pause. It's the motives behind. It's the "tit for tat". It's the financial incentive. It's the hostage-taking. It feels like the opposite of exchanging pow's.

Melissa said...

holy crap