Feature

Russia: The sudden concern over orphans

Russia has just discovered its orphan crisis.

Anastasia KarimovaKommersant

Russia has just discovered its orphan crisis, said Anastasia Karimova. Last month, in a fit of pique over a U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human-rights abusers, the State Duma outlawed U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. Now the Duma has kicked into overdrive trying to figure out what to do with these children instead. It is spitting out proposals “like a printer that has gone insane.” How about a lower adoption fee for Russians? Or free university tuition for orphans? Or what if we created an entire new ministry just to handle orphan affairs? Corruption in the “orphan industry” is rife, but some reforms are no-brainers. Directors, for example, should no longer be paid based on how many children are in their care, since that gives them no incentive to place the kids in adoptive families. And if Russia were to give parents of handicapped children more support and services “like other countries do,” many of these children wouldn’t be abandoned in the first place. Still, any reforms we enact “won’t make the law forbidding Americans from adopting any less cruel.” Americans are willing to adopt children with Down syndrome, and even severely ill children with AIDS or other ailments. “Russians will not start doing that anytime in the foreseeable future.”

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