Since December, Americans have been banned from adopting Russian children. The ban is widely seen as revenge for the Magnitsky Act, a bill that banned Russian human rights offenders from entering or doing business with the United States.
While many articles have been published about Russia’s stranded orphans or the American families that cannot adopt them, New Republic has published the profiles of American families that have already adopted Russian children. The profile attempts to show real families that have successfully provided adopted Russian children with a life that will not be possible for future generations of orphans if the Russian policy is not reversed. Many of the children profiled were born with birth defects, often the result of fetal-alcohol syndrome, a pandemic among Russian orphans.
One Russian politician who voted against the adoption ban also came to the United states to meet with families that had adopted Russian orphans, and it cost him his job. Opposition parliamentarian Dmitry Gudkov, an outspoken opponent of many of Putin’s policies, including the Dima Yakovlev Law that banned American adoptions. Gudkov participated in a conference on strengthening US-Russian relations, hosted by three organizations, Freedom House, the Foreign Policy Initiative, and the Institute of Modern Russia (the latter being the founders of The Interpreter). Gudkov’s visit was branded as treason and landed him the focus of a parliamentary investigation, an incident fully-documented by Interpreter Editor Michael Weiss in The Atlantic.
Dmitry Gudkov wrote a heart-felt blog post where he started by apologizing for his weak English and ended by reiterating that the United states, the people of Russia, and Vladimir Putin himself should all stand behind the goals of the Magnitsky Act – namely, ending corruption and punishing criminals, stated goals of the Putin administration.
The New Republic profile, and the Gudkov incident, illustrate the absurdity of punishing orphans, and the politicians who challenge the status quo, while simultaneously sheltering corruption and hindering forward progress in Russia’s relationship with the United States.