Wicker on Russia’s adoption freeze

When the Russian government decided late last year to forbid international adoptions with the United States, the heartbreak was swift and palpable. The Kremlin’s political opportunism had reared its ugly head — denying orphans the chance at a better future and leaving adoptive families incomplete.

Approximately 300 U.S. families, including several in my home state of Mississippi, were in the process of adopting children from Russia when the ban took effect in January. These families had traveled across the world to meet and bond with the children they hoped to welcome into their lives. As the extensive paperwork and formalities progressed, the emotional ties grew stronger.

Today, these “pipeline” families are working tirelessly to challenge Russia’s broken promises and bring attention to the hundreds of orphans still waiting for Mom and Dad. Their pleas have yet to stir a response from Russian officials, who refuse to allow the pending cases to move forward. But growing international support has inspired new hope that a humanitarian solution should prevail.
The resounding consensus by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is encouraging. Earlier this month, the parliamentary assembly of the 57-country organization overwhelmingly passed a measure I introduced to uphold the sanctity of the adoption process between nations.

Specifically, the resolution — the first of its kind for the OSCE — urges countries to settle differences in a “positive and humanitarian spirit,” with the goal of avoiding the “disruption of intercountry adoptions already in progress that could jeopardize the best interests of the child.” Although the measure does not carry legal weight, it bears moral authority that I hope will advance negotiations between the State Department and Russian officials in the coming months. Above all, it affirms the positive influence of family on the life of a child.

Most would agree that intercountry adoption is a sensitive issue with unique considerations. Likewise, we recognize that countries have the right to control how they conduct their adoption processes. But Russia’s severing of established relationships between adoptive parent and child unfairly changes the rules in the middle of the game. In passing my resolution, the OSCE has sent a clear signal that the concerns of some 300 families in the final stages of the adoption process are legitimate, important and worthy of attention.

Washington Post
7/25