Russia Brutalizes its Children
The sensational case of Torry Hansen, the Tennessee nurse who sent her rebellious Russian adopted child back home on a plane by himself, has caused a backlash in the Russian government leading to a savage crackdown on American adoptions by the government and a frenzied torrent of venom from Russian nationalists (Russians, of course, can’t be judged on identical or even worse individual acts of horror by their citizens, but Americans, of course, can be). To say the least, this response is deranged.
According to UNICEF, as of 2007 Russia had four million orphaned children. Contrast this with the United States, which has only 2.8 million orphans despite having a population more than twice as large as Russia’s. This means that the per capita rate of child alienation in the United States is over 80% lower than in Russia. Of course, with an adult lifespan two decades shorter than an American’s, Russian parents simply aren’t likely to live long enough to take care of their children, to say nothing of being far more likely to abuse and brutalize them if they do.
Even the likes of Pravda recognizes that the number of orphaned children in Russia is soaring out of control, even according to the Kremlin’s own data. Here’s what a Russian orphan can expect from life if, like one out of four, he ends up in a state facility:
In most orphanages, children are bathed together with no hot water available. They dine on porridge and bits of chicken with no fresh fruits, vegetables or red meat available. They sleep in wards of typically 12 children on old mattresses with ragged blankets. Many of these facilities are under heated and toys or other tools to stimulate a child’s mind are scarce. Many of these orphans suffer from weakened immune systems and, thus, all manner of illness. Their mental, emotional and physical development often seriously stunted. Due to poor conditions, inadequate nutrition and insufficient emotional care, many of these children are underdeveloped mentally and physically. The older the child and the longer he/she is in the system, the greater the emotional and, often, physical problems become. Disease passed on by the birth mother is frequent. In one orphanage in central Russia, all but one out of a group of 30 children had syphilis.
90% of these children have living parents, who have simply abandoned them. Even the tiniest babies are brutalized. NPR reports:
Elena Olshanskaya started a group of volunteers to help children in hospitals after noticing abandoned babies in rooms at the hospital where she gave birth. “I was stunned,” she says. “They were completely alone. They were fed several times a day and that was it. After a while, they just stop crying.”
That fate is so horrific that vast, uncountable numbers of Russian children simply live on the streets to avoid it. The fate of Russia’s unwanted children was chronicled brilliantly in the 2005 film “The Italian” by Russian director Andrei Kravchuk.
Russia makes only a tiny faction of these children available for foreign adoption. Russian Life reports: “From 1992 through 1999, some 15,000 orphans were adopted by Americans. The total number of Russian children adopted by foreigners, in 1999, was 6,200; 4,300 of which were adopted by Americans. Children adopted by Russian families, not including those adopted by blood relatives, was around 7,000. The total number of orphans available for adoption in 1999 was ca. 80,000.” Since then, even though the total were meager, Russia has cracked down on foreign adoptions. Last year, Americans adopted only 1,586 Russian children, a tiny fraction of the nearly 13,000 total foreign adoptions by Americans and an even punier share of the nearly 150,000 total adoptions of all children by Americans.
So the notion that Russian kids are somehow being victimized by Americans is absolute garbage. In fact, they are far better off in American homes rather than Russian ones, it is Russia which is brutalizing them, not least by erecting barriers to access by American families to Russian adoptions. Until Russia can care for its own children, it owes them every opportunity to access care from others. If Vladimir Putin really cared about the welfare of his people, then the fate of their children would be his top priority. But Putin is far more interested in imperial aggression against places like Georgia and Ukraine than he is in saving Russia’s brutalized children.