In July of 2011, more than a year after an adopted child “abandonment” scandal led Russian officials to threaten suspension of adoptions of Russian children by Americans, the United States and Russia finally reached an accord that will subject Americans who adopt Russian children to heightened scrutiny. The issue spurred worldwide attention in April 2010, when 7-year old boy Artyom Savelyev (renamed by his adoptive parents as Justin Hansen) was put on a flight from the United States and landed in Moscow alone with no other explanation but a type-written note from his adoptive mother describing how she could no longer be a parent to Justin because of his severe emotional problems and violent nature.
According to statistics of the United States Embassy, Russia is one of the largest sources of adopted foreign children in the United States, with more than 50,000 adopted by American families since 1991.
Under the new agreement, the U.S. State Department will work closely with Russia’s Ministry of Education to gather periodic reports on the living conditions and psychological and physical development of the adopted Russian child.
In fact, Moscow’s government is now requiring American families to undergo four home visits by an American social worker within three years after adopting a Russian child. This will enable the adoption agency to report to Moscow on the child’s status. Under the agreement, the agency is further held responsible for tracking the child until the age of eighteen and continuing to report any instances of abuse, neglect, termination of the adoption, or adoption by another family.
Adoptions can bring tremendous joy into not only the lives of the adoptive parents but also into the life of the child. With that in mind, this agreement between the United States and Russia ensures that the child’s best interests are always being served.