On Friday December 28th Russia’s president Valdimir Putin signed Federal Law No. 186614-6, dubbed the Dima Yakovlev Law, named after a Russian-born child who died in the care of his U.S. adoptive parents. The law prohibits the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families and will go into effect on January 1, 2013. Tom Difilipo of the Joint Council on International Children’s Council summarized the bottom line of this action well: “The closure of Russia to intercountry adoption follows what is now an all too familiar strain of tragedies. Children in Vietnam, Nepal, Romania and too many other countries suffer the life-long effects of institutionalization due to the elimination of intercountry adoption as a viable option. However unlike other closures which were generally based on child protection issues, the Russian ban is particularly stinging in that it is an act of politics, pure and simple.”
The politics he refers to are the string of events that started in 2008 when Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney, was arrested after alleging large-scale systematic theft from the Russian Government sanctioned by officials. He died in prison in 2009 having been refused medical treatment and apparently beaten to death.
Magnistsky’s death was met with outrage throughout Russia, and human rights organizations around the world. Russian officials believed to be connected to his death had their assets frozen and were banned from entering European countries and Canada. The Magnitsky Act affects the same sanctions, and also includes other human rights violations and corruption components, for the United States. The act was signed into law on December 14th. The Dima Yakovlev Law is a retaliatory law that also includes sanctions for individuals violating fundamental human rights and freedoms of the citizens of the Russian federation.
Although the Russian adoption ban is signed, we do not know now if it may or can be altered in the future, so it is important to share your opinions and thoughts of this situation with your Senator and U.S. Representatives. Visit www.contactingthecongress.org to find your representatives. President Obama and his administration also need to know of your concerns. Ask them to continue to advocate for the thousands of young Russian children left languishing in orphanages.
While Spence-Chapin supports all efforts to place children within their country of origin, we worry about the thousands of children in Russia who will not find permanence in that country and due to this series of events, will not have the opportunity to be placed within a loving home here in the United States.
For on-going updates visit the U.S. State department website.