In 1990, Russia made adoptions open to foreigners. However, this became quite controversial when several different Russian kids became the victim of severe child abuse by their adoptive parents.
In October 2000, six-year-old Viktor Matthey died of cardiac arrest after he contracted hypоthermia. It was later discovered that his adoptive parents had locked him in a damp unheated pump room overnight, and also beat him frequently. Both parents were found guilty of excessive corporal punishment, as well as failure to provide medical care. Tragically, Viktor Matthey was one of several Russian children who had suffered similar fates.
Since 1990, 13 child abuse cases that resulted in death and involved Russian adopted children have been reported; and 12 of these occurred at the hands of American parents. Although these deaths were viewed as great tragedies in the United States, the deaths of these innocent children have provoked an even greater public outrage in Russia. In general, Russians prefer that their children remain in Russia, however, Russians rarely adopt. In a June 2005 poll conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Studies Center, 81% of Russians said they did not plan to ever adopt; however, only 13% of Russians believe that opening adoption up to foreigners was necessary to curb the problem of child neglect in Russia.
Russian adoptions in the United States ranks third in popularity, behind China (number 1) and Guatemala (number 2). In 2006, Americans adopted 3,706 Russian children; however, since 2005 Russian adoptions have actually slowed by a third. This drop in adoption rate is most likely the result of the backlash that occurred after various incidents of American parents murdering their adopted child.
In Russia, the Education Ministry, which overseas foreign adoptions, has come under scrutiny by the State Duma. The Duma is accusing the Education Ministry of trying to make a profit off of its foreign adoptions; it has since stopped accepting new adoption applications. While it is important for the Duma to make sure there is no corrupt business dealings within the Education Ministry; it is also extremely unfortunate that the adoptions rate has steadily declined as a result.
The victims of these adoption scandals are the other 700,000 orphans in the country waiting to find a family. The deaths of 12 innocent Russian children in the U.S. is a great tragedy; however, it seems like an even more sad fact that because of the malicious and cruel child abuse several Americans inflicted on their child, thousands of Russian orphans may never be considered for adoption.
Russia is currently in the midst of revising its foreign adoption policies. Some of these revisions would include stricter psychological testing of parents wishing to adopt; as well as, giving Russians officials the authority to intervene in the lives of children adopted by Americans.
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