Sunday, November 4, 2012

Russian-To-Russian Adoption Booms, But With Too Many Sad Endings - Adopting For the Wrong Reasons?

Russians returned almost as many orphans back to orphanages last
year as they adopted. This is a frightening statistic. Throughout
the world there have been major national initiatives to encourage
in-country adoptions. In some countries this has included
financial incentives. Unfortunately, some families have been
motivated by what I would say are wrong reasons to adopt. Then,
when the payments, usually for the first year or two, come to an
end, the children are often returned. The saddest part of all of
this is the additional trauma the children must experience. It is
important that the needs and best interest of the children trump
national pride.

Ukraine has set up a similar program to Russia to strongly
encourage Ukrainians to adopt. I can't find any statistics on how
many children are returned, but I know from speaking with the
Ukrainian Consulate in NYC that this is a major problem.
Ukrainians favor adoption of young children and girls. Even after
all the local adoptions over 24,000 children still waiting and
available for international adoption.

By Sergei Burlachenko, Kiril Zhurenkov, Sergei

MOSCOW -Russia is going through a home-grown adoption boom.

In the changing landscape of adoption, 6,700 children were
adopted or placed with foster parents inside of Russia last year.
It is a marked change since the mid-2000s, when most adoptive
parents were foreigners.

Now the majority of Russian adoptees are adopted by Russian
parents. Last year, only 31.4% of the children adopted in Russia
were adopted by foreigners.

But there's also another, less optimistic figure: last year 6,337
adoptees were returned to orphanages, the vast majority at the
initiative of their new parents. It is clear that in nearly all
cases, the children were rejected by their new parents due to
conflicts in the family.

Russia has begun instituting "adoption schools," which provide
training for prospective adoptive parents, to limit such
unfortunate conclusions. These schools have opened all over the
country, and since September are required for anyone who wants to
adopt a child in Russia.

One adoption school has been in operation in the Moscow Orphanage
No. 19 for the past 20 years. Here, prospective parents could
meet with a child only after having gone through the training.
The orphanage's specialists would choose parents for the children
after this. Some were ultimately refused. Then the child would
live with the family as a foster child, until the child either
reached legal age or was officially adopted. The orphanage helped
the foster parents financially and also gave them psychological,
medical, social and legal support.

"More than 900 people took part in the training," says Irina
Osina, head of the department that prepares families for adoption
at the Orphanage No. 19. "A successful adoptive or foster family
requires much more than the typical signs of success. They have
to have a certain level of knowledge, skill and experience in
order to structure their relationship with the child correctly."

How to provide support and help, and to avoid hurting the child
or giving him or her false promises or hopes, is at the heart of
the training. "In our experience, only 30% of those who want to
become adoptive or foster parents realize what kinds of problems
they will have to face," says Osina.

Now, the Ministry of Education has made these specialized
three-month training courses mandatory for everyone who is
planning to take in a child. The prospective parents are told
about the fears and disappointments that they might go through
during a foster child's adaption to the family. They are also
taught how to prepare their own relatives for the new child's


For foreign parents hoping to adopt a Russian child, it is not
necessary to take the course in Russia, but they will have to
show proof that they have completed a similar course in their
home country.

In general, specialists welcome the new law, but it was not
completely free of controversy. Some have been exempted from the
course, such as those who have been successful foster parents, as
well as close relatives, including step-parents. The paradox,
though, is that most of the time when children are brought back
to the orphanage, it is by relatives who had adopted them, not by
unrelated adoptive parents.

This can be explained by several factors, both psychological
(unrelated adoptive parents are often more prepared to take
responsibility for the child) and material. It turns out that
relatives, especially elderly relatives, will give up
guardianship voluntarily if they do not have money to feed the
child or provide adequate housing.

Another problem related to the organization of the adoption
schools is that there are not enough specialists to teach them.
Without good teachers, experts say, the future of these
well-meaning reforms is still unclear.

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Adoption Services International unites loving US families with
Ukrainian children. We provide a unique combination of
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Upcoming Events:

Ukrainian Adoption 101:

Conversation On International Adoption: Opportunity, Process,
Concerns and Questions

Monday, November 12, 2012 6:00-7:00PM

Location: Califon Book Store: 72 Main Street, Califon, New Jersey

Ukrainian Adoption Information Meeting

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:00-8:00PM

Location: Wellness Rocks: 133 Rupell Road, Clinton, New Jersey

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