By Maria Young
The US Senate has unanimously approved a resolution condemning a new Russian law banning US citizens from adopting Russian children and calling on President Vladimir Putin and the Russian leadership to reconsider the measure on humanitarian grounds.
In its resolution, approved in a vote late Tuesday, the Senate affirmed that all children deserve to live in a permanent, protective family and said it valued a “long tradition” of the US and Russian governments working together to find homes for children who have been deprived of their parents.
The Senate also said it “disapproves of the Russia law ending inter-country adoptions of Russian children by United States citizens because it primarily harms vulnerable and voiceless children” and “strongly urges the Russia Government to reconsider the law on humanitarian grounds, in consideration of the well-being of parentless Russian children awaiting a loving and permanent family.”
The Senate resolution noted that the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimates there are 740,000 children living in Russia without parental care. It also cited data from the Russian Ministry of Science and Education affirming that 110,000 children live in state institutions in Russia.
“Whatever issues our two governments may be facing, there is no political reason to put vulnerable children in the middle of political posturing,” said US Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who authored the resolution and serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about foster care and international adoption issues.
“Children should be raised by parents, not in orphanages, institutions or alone on the street,” she said.
The Russian ban on adoptions by US citizens was signed in response to the Magnitsky Act, an American law signed by President Obama in December which calls for sanctions on individual Russian citizens deemed by the United States to have violated human rights.
Critics say the Magnitsky Act, which targeted Russians alone, was discriminatory, superfluous and intentionally unfriendly. The measure infuriated Russian lawmakers, who consequently responded by passing their own human rights legislation aimed specifically at US citizens, including the adoption ban.
The back-and-forth political shouting match has left hundreds of Americans who were already in the process of adopting Russian children – many specific sets of American parents and Russian children had already been paired – in limbo.
It is not clear whether those families will be allowed to complete the adoption process and bring the children to their new homes in America.
“As a grandparent of an internationally adopted child, I know that this new law is against the interests of the Russian people, in particular Russian children,” said Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who also serves as Co-Chair for CCAI.
“It is nothing more than a political play against the United States that ultimately leads to greater hardships and more suffering for Russian children who will now be denied a loving family,” he said.
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