Tensions Over Adoption Case Aren’t as they Appear

Indiana Nash, News Editor

There are countless situations in which the wrong people are punished for the conflicts of others. The Dima Yakovlev anti-adoption law, it seems, has created yet another.

Russia passed the law in early January of this year to prevent Americans from being able to adopt Russian children. This may seem strange to anyone not paying close attention to the daily political discourse of Washington. The motive for creating and passing the Dima Yakovlev law was in response to the United State’s Magnitsky Act, named for Sergie Magnitsky. He was a Russian accountant and auditor who uncovered a large scale theft of the Russian State’s money that was being carried out by Russian officials in 2008. As soon as the government found out what Magnitsky knew, they put him in prison where he died days before his trial. Obviously, this chain of events violated many human rights that the United States supports. A few years later, the Unites States decided to show its displeasure by creating the Magnitsky Act, which prevented certain Russian officials from entering the U.S. and using the banking system.

When Russia first passed their anti-adoption law, thousands protested in Moscow against it. President Putin however, claimed that the country had every right to pass legislation such as this, citing the high number of cases in which Russian adoptees are abused after entering the United States as the main cause. Unfortunately, earlier this year Putin’s argument was proven to be more than just a statistic.

Max and Kristopher are Russian brothers whose mother was deemed unfit to care for them several years ago, due to alcohol and drug problems. They were placed in an orphanage where Laura and Alan Shatto adopted the boys and brought them back to their home in Texas late last year. On January 21, 2013, the two brothers were left to play outside and when Laura came back to check on them, she found Max dead. As if the story wasn’t clouded with uncertain details already, on the same day as Max’s death, the Texas child welfare office reported that they received an accusation of neglect and abuse. The actual cause of death, however, wasn’t certain for about two weeks after his death, during which time Russia caught wind of the boy’s death and the country’s media exploded with the story. Segments ran all day featuring Max and his brother, stating that it was yet another case of abuse by American parents. The cause of death was finally identified by authorities as an accidental trauma to the abdomen, according to the BBC.

The attention Max’s story received in Russia became so great that many protested in Moscow. The crowd asked for the return of Max’s brother, Kristopher and all other children who were adopted by Americans. Russian government officials said that they were appalled by the reaction of the American government, claiming that they didn’t even seem to care very much at all about the tragedy.
American officials have come back saying that, though the case is tragic, it was deemed accidental. Also, stating that out of 60,000 Russian children who have been adopted by Americans in the past 20 years, 19 of them have died due to child abuse. This further proves the rather strange and politically murky conditions in which the law was passed.

Following a political trail and story from country to country isn’t always easy and it often doesn’t end pleasantly, but it’s important to know today more than ever, that things aren’t always as they appear.

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