Friday, March 1, 2013

Adoption Of Ukrainian Children By Foreigners: Boon Or Bane?

This article below from ForUm discusses potential actions,
consequences and issues regarding safeguarding Ukraine's children
adopted internationally. The opinions come from various officials
and representatives of independent groups after the shooting
death of Andrew Butler in the US by his father. Andrew was a 13
year old adopted from Ukraine, Donetsk region. In the wake of
learning of this shooting, the Ukrainian government is taking a
look at how it can better insure the safety and health of their
adopted children.

Before everyone panics and thinks Ukraine will go the way of
Russia and ban all adoptions by Americans, or even all
foreigners, read the article. The general theme is that adoptive
parents need support, not control. There is an obvious opposition
to politicalizing foreign adoptions in Ukraine. The greatest
concern is how to improve monitoring of Ukrainian adopted
children within their resources. They don't advocate a ban and
actually support foreign adoption as it gives more orphans a
chance for a normal life.

Will they consider more restrictive measures? In this article is
sees them as a last resort. Will they implement a stricter
selection process? I think the concern is more about acting
within current laws. At the time Andrew's father adopted, his age
exceeded the Ukrainian government's legal requirements. So
technically, he should not have been allowed to adopt. In the
past years we have already seen a push to better implement the
adoption laws they have and carefully approve parents.
Unfortunately, this has led to longer in-country adoption times.

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Adoption Of Ukrainian Children By Foreigners: Boon Or Bane?

Ukrainian diplomats intend to control the living conditions of
other adoptees in the family, where an adopted Ukrainian boy was
killed. "The Foreign Ministry welcomes the reaction of the
American side, announced by US embassy in the statement of
February 25, 2013 about the death of Andrew Butler," Ukrainian FM

In turn, the US Department of State has been in communication
with Ukrainian officials to facilitate communication with
appropriate state and local authorities. According to US
officials, the department will continue to work to ensure that
Ukrainian officials have access to the information they

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry also states it is taking steps to
improve the existing monitoring mechanism over adopted Ukrainian
children living abroad. "To provide better observance of
children's rights, we expect all the states, where adopted
Ukrainian children currently live, to set proper control over
their living conditions and education, as well as to improve
cooperation on this issue with the Ukrainian side," FM's
statement reads.

According to the information, Andrew Butler, 13, was shot by his
adoptive father, 73, during "shooting lessons" in the yard in
June 2011 in West Virginia. The farther was sentenced for
manslaughter and is serving his term. The Butlers adopted Andrew
in 2003 under a judgment of Kramatorsk court of Donetsk region
together with two other children.

To answer the question whether Ukraine is going to use Russia's
way to limit the adoption of Ukrainian children by foreigners,
ForUm has asked experts:

Oksana Moskalenko, coordinator of programs on children's
rights of the All-Ukrainian organization "Women's consortium of

- I believe the problem must be considered in an integrated
manner. The adoptive father, for example, is 73 years old.
According to our legislation, he did not even have a right for
adoption. Probably, we should set tougher selection process for
potential parents. As for the control over living conditions, we
must be careful here. Adoption process is already a trauma for a
child, and everyday questions like "How are you doing here" and
"Do they treat you well" will not help him to adapt. The
government should render support to the adoptive families and
children, not to set control. There is another question: If a
child has been living in America for 10 years, for example,
should he be sent back to the country he already forgot? I
believe that if the child has already adapted to live in this or
that country he must stay in that country. For this, we must take
into account the possibilities of a country, citizens of which
adopt our children.

Olga Skorina, head of the legal department of the
All-Ukrainian council on patients' rights:

- Ukraine does everything for the realization of the social
adoption initiative, and it would be logical not to limit our
orphans to Ukrainian families only. There are different children
with different needs, and foreign families may be the best thing
for some of them.

Unfortunately, the authorities often impose restrictions when
there is no political will to solve a problem. The law on legal
relationships is called to regulate these relationships, not to
impose bans. Restrictive measure is the measure of last resort.
Imposing limits we deprive our children of the possibility to
find a loving family. In this case, what we need is some
political will and efforts to regulate the issue. We still do not
have an accurate system of control over Ukrainian children living
in adoptive families abroad, or a system calculating risks of
children's stay abroad or a control system over psychological
condition of a child in a family. What we need is the system and
a person in Ukrainian consulates, who will have the right to
control the situation, collect data and make reports. May be
should form a special institute, responsible for this sector.

We've learned about Andrew's death from the press, and we know
only about the fact of manslaughter. We do not know anything
about how he lived and felt in that family. Thus, the improved
system of monitoring is exactly what we need to change the

Vitaly Bala, director of the Agency for simulated

- In my opinion the question is very delicate. We should not turn
the adoption process into a political bargaining chip. In Russia,
for example, this problem has political connotations. As for
Ukraine, I don't think that this issue is a problem. Of course,
there's no limit to perfection and we do need to improve the
monitoring system over Ukrainian children adopted by foreigners,
but there is no need to follow the Russian way.

Yevhen Perebyinis, FM spokesman:

- As of today, we follow the law that we have. Our legislation
allows foreigners to adopt Ukrainian children. It is obvious that
the monitoring system needs to be improved, and the Foreign
Ministry is working on this now. Ukrainian diplomats have sent
letters to Ukrainian embassies in all the states, where there are
Ukrainian children living in adoptive families. Whenever
possible, consulate officials will visit these children to check
the conditions they live in. If the conditions appear
inappropriate, consulates will take necessary measures.

According to the Ukraine's embassy in US, the foster father who
killed Andrew Butler was convicted and is serving his sentence. I
want to stress that the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry welcomes the
reaction of the American side in this issue. Currently the FM
seeks to obtain access to two other adopted children by the same
family in order to check their living conditions.

Eduard Bagirov, human right activist:

- Ukraine is responsible for its citizens not only on the state
territory, but also in countries of stay. This is a requirement
of the Constitution. Once a year or half a year, the Foreign
Ministry of Ukraine charges Ukrainian consulates in foreign
states with controlling Ukrainian children adopted by foreign
families. But such control is formal. Ukrainian embassies and
consulates simply do not have sufficient funding for this.

Ukraine needs a law to protect the rights of its children.
Moreover, Ukraine needs to adopt tougher measures of control over
foreign families taking Ukrainian children. The fact is that
giving a child for adoption in a foreign family Ukraine loses
control over the situation and the child loses legal support.
Foreign families see that the Ukrainian bodies do not perform
their functions and may violate child's rights.

At the same time, if we follow Russia's way (forbidding foreign
families to adopt Ukrainian children) we will deprive our
children, especially sick ones, of the chance for normal life.
What we need is to adopt a system of monitoring living conditions
and to provide security for our children.


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