By Riley Manning/NEMS Daily Journal
In January, a new law in Russia barred Americans from adopting orphans, affecting around 700 children who had already bonded with prospective families.
But last week, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker introduced a resolution to protect families and children stuck in limbo. The first of its kind, the resolution was presented at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to overwhelming support.
The measure urges the OSCE’s 57 countries to come to an agreement on international adoption and avoid disruption of international adoptions already in progress. In addition, the resolution calls for the OSCE’s Ministerial Council to clarify international commitments in order to safeguard the family-to-be when an international adoption is in its later stages.
Since the OSCE is the only regional group to include lawmakers from Russia and the United States, the resolution’s approval is a big step forward.
“Support for this important measure sends a strong signal through the OSCE and beyond that we will not shy from an issue simply because it is sensitive or complicated,” Wicker said in a press release. “This is an emphatic call for states … to honor the rules in place at the beginning of the process.”
Tom Velie, president of the Tupelo-based adoption agency New Beginnings, said the breakdown of rapport between the U.S. and Russia comes with plenty of political baggage.
“For several years in the adoption world, we’ve been aware of strong nationalistic forces in Russia who oppose foreign adoption,” Velie said. “That’s why anytime an incident occurs involving an adopted Russian child, it is blown into an international issue. They blame accidents on bad American statesmanship.”
Velie also said Russia’s adoption ban may have been backlash over President Barack Obama’s Magnitsky Act, which came two weeks earlier. The act bans Russian officials who Washington believes have violated human rights from obtaining visas to enter the U.S.
“We’re talking about kids who have already bonded with their families and parents who told them the next time they visit, they are taking the kids home,” Velie said. “There is no reason for that kind of case, no reason to not finish what has been started.”