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Blind Teen Stands Up to Putin on Adoption Ban

Posted by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:37 PM
  • 4 Replies

MOSCOW — A blind Russian teenager’s withering, at times sarcastic, criticism of the country’s new ban on adoptions to the United States has garnered a lot of attention in Russian media, and even from the Kremlin.

In a Jan. 6 blog post, addressed to President Vladimir Putin, Natasha Pisarenko asked what will be done for disabled Russian children now that they cannot be adopted by Americans. She slammed the dismal state of Russia’s orphanages and medical care, using her own life as an example.

Pisarenko was born blind, she explains, and even though her father recognized it almost instantly it took doctors three months to identify it, and it took German doctors to make a proper diagnosis. Now she plans to have surgery in the United States that could restore her sight.

In perhaps a sign of how sensitive the Kremlin is to the outrage surrounding the adoption ban, Putin’s spokesman Dmitri Peskov said, “Of course we will pay attention to such a statement. This girl is well known to us. She’s known by the regional authorities and by the health ministry.”

The adoption ban was a late amendment to a bill retaliating for America passing the so-called Magnitsky Act, a set of human rights sanctions that President Obama signed into law in December. The U.S. law was named after an anti-corruption lawyer who died in prison after he uncovered evidence of massive fraud. The act freezes the assets and visas of Russian officials accused of human rights abuse.

Russia is one of the most popular countries for Americans seeking to adopt overseas. Americans have adopted over 60,000 Russian children since the collapse of the Soviet Union, according to the State Department, but Russian officials have pointed to the cases of 19 Russian children who died after being adopted by Americans.

When the ban went into effect on Jan. 1, it left 52 orphans in legal limbo. Their adoptions to the United States had been approved by a court, but they had not yet received papers to leave the country. Russian officials have said some of them will still be allowed to leave, but have not said which ones or how many.

A majority of Russians supported the ban in a December poll by the Public Opinion Foundation, but thousands took to the streets of Moscow on Sunday to protest the measure. They chanted “Hands off our children” and hoisted signs with the photos of lawmakers who voted for the ban with “Shame” written across their faces.

Russia’s state-owned news channels, however, dismissed the large protest, accusing participants of promoting the sale of children abroad. One presenter said children were many times more likely to be killed in the United States than in Russia.

On Monday a petition with over 100,000 signatures asking lawmakers to overturn the ban was dismissed by a committee in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, according to RIA Novosti.

Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodents said on Monday that approximately 128,000 of Russia’s estimated 650,000 orphans were waiting for adoption, yet only 18,000 Russian families had applied to adopt children.

Last week, Maxim Kargopoltsev, a 14 year-old orphan due to be adopted by an American couple he had known for years, made headlines when he was reported to have penned a letter to Putin and to lawmakers asking for the ban to be overturned. Later reports, quoting his orphanage director, said there was no letter.

The next day, however, the regional governor visited Maxim and vowed to look after him. He also took him to buy the cell phone of his choice. The boy was quoted later saying he still hoped to be adopted by the Americans.

by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:37 PM
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annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Not even latest model IPhone can replace parents

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Thousands Protest in Moscow Against Ban on Adoptions to US

gty moscow protest US adoptions jt 130113 wblog Thousands Protest in Moscow Against Ban on Adoptions to US

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

MOSCOW - Thousands of Russians took to the streets on Sunday to protest Russia's new ban on adoptions to the United States.

In what organizers called the "March Against Scoundrels" they paraded down a tree-lined boulevard in central Moscow chanting "Hands off our children" and "Russia will be free." They also carried signs with the faces of Russian politicians who approved the ban and the word "Shame" written on them.

"I am not an apologist for the U.S. I am a patriot of this country. But this monstrous law must be canceled," leftist protest leader Sergei Udaltsov told the crowd before the march began, according to the Interfax news agency.

As usual, organizers and police disagreed on the size of the crowd. Organizers estimated between 20,000 and 50,000 people turned out. Police put the figure much lower at about 7,000, but overhead photos of the protest appear to show a crowd larger than that.

Significantly smaller protests, some consisting of just a few dozen people, took place in other cities around the country, according to Interfax. A nationwide poll taken in December by the Public Opinion Foundation found 56 percent support for the ban.

But participants in Sunday's protests accused the ban's proponents of playing politics with the lives of children.

The adoption ban was a late amendment to a bill retaliating for a set of human rights sanctions that President Obama signed into law in December. It cut off adoptions to the United States, one of the most popular destinations for international adoptions from Russia, starting Jan. 1.

More than 60,000 Russian orphans have been adopted by Americans since the end of the Soviet Union, according to the State Department. Many of them are sick or suffer from disabilities.

READ: Unclear Russian Adoption Ban Frustrates US Families

But Russian officials have pointed to the cases of 19 children who died after being adopted by Americans. They also noted cases in which American parents accused of abusing their adopted children received, in their view, lenient sentences.

Since the law went into effect, Russian officials have struggled to explain whether the ban would cancel 52 adoption cases that had already received court approval and were within weeks of completion. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said Thursday that at least some of those adoptions which had cleared the courts would be allowed to proceed, but did to say how many.

The ban was controversial even before it became law. Even though it received nearly unanimous approval from Russia's rubber stamp parliament, prominent cabinet officials, including Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, came out against the ban. Even President Vladimir Putin himself evaded questions about it when asked during an end of year press conference.

READ: Russians Rally to Help US Adoption Mom Fighting for Child

Since the ban was approved, top Russian officials have pledged to devote more resources to reforming the country's dilapidated orphanages and to encourage more Russians to adopt.

Sunday's protest was organized by some of the same opposition leaders who organized last year's anti-Putin rallies. The last such protest, held without city approval and under heavy police presence, drew relatively few people in December, suggesting the protest movement had fizzled. Protest leader and anti-corruption blogger Alexy Navalny, however, told Interfax today that he hopes the adoption ban could rally more Russians to continue protesting

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Jan. 14, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Russians Rally to Help US Adoption Mom Fighting for Child

By (@KiritRadia_ABC)
MOSCOW Dec. 31, 2012

 

 

"I'm just short of dying of heartbreak. You can quote that," Kendra Skaggs wrote in a short message to ABC News on Saturday evening.

Earlier in the day she had been hopeful that her and her husband's adoption of a 5-year-old Russian orphan with spina bifida named Polina would be allowed to go through, despite a newly signed Russian ban on adoptions to the United States.

Russian officials had said six adoption cases that received court approval before the ban went into effect on Jan. 1 would be allowed to leave the country.

But just hours later Kendra received crushing word that Polina was not among them. Despite receiving court approval on Dec. 24, her adoption had not passed through the necessary 30 day waiting period.

"Back to square one of the unknown," she wrote in another message.

And so it has gone for the Skaggs family, who are among 46 American families fighting to find any way around the ban to bring their newly adopted Russian children to the United States.

They dissect every statement from officials that might hint at an opening, anything that could give them hope.

Her emotions have oscillated from despair, to hope, and back to despair and frustration as they search for a legal avenue to bring Polina home.

Along the way she has received thousands of notes of encouragement, many from Russian citizens who offered to help.

Courtesy Kendra Skaggs
Kendra Skaggs and her husband pose for a... View Full Size
PHOTO: Kendra Skaggs and her husband with Russian orphan Polina
Courtesy Kendra Skaggs
Kendra Skaggs and her husband pose for a photo with Polina, a Russian orphan, in this photo taken in Moscow.
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Since Kendra Skaggs took her story public in an interview with ABC News on Thursday, the blog she has used to document her experience and vent her frustration has received over 52,000 hits from 40 countries and hundreds of comments. They urged her not to give up the fight for Polina.

One Russian from Moscow offered to pay for an apartment when Kendra and her husband come for Polina. Others offered to provide transportation, translations, medical help, and even legal support.

Still others offered to pass on messages to Polina. Businessmen from St Petersburg promised to check in on her at the orphanage outside Moscow during work trips.

"If you want me to get anything to Polina, I will buy on my account, no problem" one of them wrote.

"Forgive us. We can't protect our kids from the Russian government," a Russian woman named Evgenia wrote.

Another woman named Natasha said she remembered selling Kendra flowers in Moscow a few months earlier and said she never forgot about her effort to adopt Polina.

Americans also posted encouraging messages, including from some who had tried to adopt from Russia before.

Even Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., tweeted his support.

But the road ahead remains perilously uncertain.

She is holding out hope, but Kendra will likely have to wait another agonizing week before she gets a firm answer. Russia is in the midst of a holiday break that lasts until Jan. 8 and until then government offices will be closed.

Her adoption agency has been reluctant to offer much guidance either since the situation is so fluid.

"I know they don't want to tell us something and be wrong. But something, anything would be nice," Kendra wrote on a her blog on Saturday after learning that Polina was not among the six who would be allowed to leave the country.

"I want to get on a plane and come (to Moscow) so badly, but I don't think being there will do any good. They won't let me in to see her," she told ABC News.

On her blog, Kendra described the whiplash of emotions over the past week.

"It's the kind where your breath is taken away. When you feel you might lose your lunch," she wrote.

"I'm angry. I'm hurt. I'm sad."

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