Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Russian Parliament Proposes Ban in Retaliation for the Magnitsky Act; International Politicking Would Force Orphaned Children to Pay the Price

As reported by the National Council for Adoption:

December 18, 2012 – Alexandria, VA – Legislation has been introduced in the Russian Parliament that would ban intercountry adoptions with the United States. This radical amendment to the Dima Yakovlev Law was proposed as retaliation against U.S. passage of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, a bill that imposes sanctions against Russian officials perceived by the U.S. to be guilty of human rights violations in Russia.

Among the sanctions is a prohibition on Russian criminals visiting the United States.

This threatened ban on intercountry adoption comes after years of discussion between Russia and the United States to address areas of needed reform, strengthen protections and increase accountability, and better serve adopted children and adoptive families. Recent negotiations resulted in a bilateral agreement between Russia and the U.S., which went into effect on November 1, 2012.

"Orphaned children could become collateral damage in this round of international politicking," says Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of the National Council For Adoption. “The proposed Russian amendment is a punitive, excessive, and highly unfortunate reaction to a U.S. policy that has absolutely nothing to do with intercountry adoption. The opposition of some Russian politicians to the Magnitsky Act, which prevents Russian human rights violators from entering the U.S., should not threaten the possibility of adoption for orphaned and vulnerable Russian children. NCFA and other U.S. adoption advocates are pleading with Russian officials to do the right thing for the more than 700,000 children currently living in institutions in Russia who deserve loving families of their own.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, while displeased with the Magnitsky Law, promised an “adequate and not excessive” response. “Banning intercountry adoption is excessive,” says Johnson. “Russian orphans are counting on their President to hear their voices.”

How can you help?

Contact your State Representatives, Congressmen/Congresswomen, and Senators (visit to find your representatives) and ask them to stop this from happening.  Below you will find samples from NCFA for you to use. Please personalize it. Congressional offices especially value hearing the unique voices of their constituents. You may cut and past the following text (be sure to personalize the letter at the bold and italicized points):

 Dear President/ Senator/Representative ____________________:

I am writing to alert you to an urgent concern regarding adoption. Congress recently passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act and President Obama signing into law on December 14, 2012.

In response, Russia's legislature, is considering legislation this week that is being referred to as the Dima Yakovlev Law, named after a Russian-born child who died in the care of his adoptive parents. This law would ban from visiting Russia anyone involved in the case of Dima Yakovlev or other Russian born adopted children who died in the United States. What is of most urgent concern is that a recent amendment to this law would also end Intercountry Adoption between Russian and the United States. I believe it is absolutely important to protect the rights of every child and there should be a measured response to the death of each of these children. We mourn the loss of these Russian-born children with the Russians as they were also dear to us as American children. However, it is important to note that these children are a tiny minority. Many thousands of Russian born children have been adopted and thrived in the love and care of their American families. If intercountry adoption between Russia and the United States were to close, many thousands of children would likely languish in orphanages instead of finding their way to safe, loving, permanent families in the United States.

Now, let me tell you our story, [tell them how adoption has impacted your family, what outcomes may have been if your child could not have been adopted]. If intercountry adoption between Russia and the United States closes, other children like [your child's name] will not be able to find their way to the many U.S. families willing and waiting to call them their own.

Please ask President Obama to contact President Putin of Russia and ask him not to allow this amendment to become part of Russian law. U.S. diplomacy at this time is essential to save the lives of many young Russians waiting for a family of their own.

[Your Name]

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