Russian President Vladimir Putin made a heartless decision in signing a bill banning the adoption of Russian children by American citizens.
The effect of that decision is already cascading throughout the lives of anxious American would-be parents in the final stages of the adoption process. Worse is the image of children whose hopes of a better life have crashed to the ground, along with any trust that adults will keep their word.
The reason Putin signed the bill? He was angry at America.
The adoption ban is part of a bill retaliating against a new law here in the United States aimed at punishing human rights abuses in Russia. The Magnitsky Act was signed by President Obama last month. It will bar Russian citizens accused of violating human rights from traveling to the United States, or from engaging in financial transactions here.
Putin fumed. He offered that America is living in its own glass house when it comes to human rights abuses, citing what he described as abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Ironically, the Obama administration had opposed the Magnitsky Act, perhaps because officials realized its possible ramifications. That opposition may also have been a reflection of our reliance on Russia as a partner in certain world affairs, from allowing overland routes through Russia to ship supplies to military units in Afghanistan to partnering in the effort to tamp down Iran’s nuclear program, although the two countries disagree greatly over the civil war in Syria.
But Congress was itching to get the bill done while tying it with another measure granting Russia new status as a full trading partner.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of innocent orphans in Russia have been used as political fodder. And what does Putin do? He scoffs, offering specious arguments such as that the ban applies only to the United States and, therefore, will not injure Russian orphans. He ignores the fact that nearly a thousand Russian children were adopted by American families last year alone. That compares to Italy at 798 followed by Spain with 685.
Families here in the United States who endure the grueling bureaucratic morass, spend $50,000 or more and embark on endless trips overseas, and pass sleepless nights wondering if the dream for themselves and those children will come true, are heartbroken. Imagine the heartbreak of children who will likely remain warehoused in the uncaring Russian orphanage system.
Parenting is not a science that only Americans have perfected. And there are certainly plenty of orphaned children here in this country in need of an equal amount of love and care.
But that doesn’t forgive the unconscionable decision by Russia’s leader and the cavalier manner in which he fails to recognize the far-reaching implications this will have on Russian society.