Orphans in Russia will no longer be able to find parents willing to adopt them in the United States once a new law that President Vladimir Putin says he will sign goes into effect.
Russian orphans will become the casualties in a dispute unrelated to adoption. The new law banning adoptions is part of a larger bill that the Russian government is implementing in response to the Magnitsky Act.
The Magnitsky Act, signed by President Barack Obama on Dec. 14, places U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia. The act is named after Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered Russian corruption and was beaten to death in a Russian prison in 2009.
Just this year, the United States and Russia had negotiated a new inter-country adoption agreement aimed at protecting Russian children adopted by Americans. The new agreement was in response to the deaths of 19 Russian adoptees in the United States since the 1990s and a 2010 incident in which an American woman sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia alone on a one-way flight.
About 60,000 Russian orphans have been adopted by American families over the past 20 years, making it second only to China in the number of inter-country adoptions to the United States.
In a Dec. 21 press statement, Micael McFaul, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, said the new law "will needlessly remove the path to families for hundreds of Russian children each year. The welfare of children is simply too important to be linked to others issues in our bilateral relationship."
Dozens of Russian orphans who are already in the process of being adopted will be cut off from being matched with new parents as a result of the law.
Sasha D'Jamoos, a University of Texas at Austin sophomore, lived in a Russian orphanage until the age of 15 when he was adopted by an American family. He created Voice of the Child and began an online petition asking Putin to not sign the law.
"Like many adopted children in America, I believe the Anti-Magnitsky Law insults the very concept of a family. Had this law been introduced 6 years ago -- today I would have no home, no family, I wouldn't be able to hug my little brother, wouldn't attend a university and wouldn't experience the joy of walking and having full control of my life," D'Jamoos wrote.
Russell Moore, a Southern Baptist theologian and a passionate advocate for adoption, lamented the new move by Russia, tweeting, "Orphanages teem with children. Abortion rate is 73%. Faces demographic collapse. Mother Russia is a she-bear devouring her young."