Foster children subject to violence

In the last two years 100 children in foster families have been
subjected to violence. Also during this time 8,000 contracts placing orphaned
children with Russian families were terminated on the initiative of the
Prosecutor General. The head of the department Yury Chaika, cited these figures
during his meeting on 3 December with Russian president Dmitri Medvedev.

Chaika has noted that “These crimes take various forms from grave to
heinous. We are now strengthening surveillance, satisfying the requirements of
the bill I signed just days ago.” The Russian president instructed Prosecutor
General Chaika and the Children’s Ombudsman Pavel Astahov to bring to justice
foreigners who have subjected their adopted Russian children to violence.
According to the Children’s Ombudsman, since the early 1990’s nineteen Russian
children have died in American families.

The Russian president has stressed the importance of responding in the
same way to international cases of violence against adopted children and
domestic cases of violence against children in foster families. He noted that “Unfortunately,
the number of crimes committed against children is quite high.” Earlier, he had
signed a bill that strengthened the powers of the Children’s Ombudsman and
representatives for children’s rights. Pavel Astahov instructed all
representatives to keep thorough records of all incidences of abuse of
children’s rights and investigate them accordingly.

Alexei Golovan, the first Children’s Ombudsman and now executive
director of the welfare centre ‘Participation in fate’, argues that many cases
involving the abuse or death of adopted children living abroad in foreign
families would never have happened had there been appropriate controls in
place. As he explained in an interview with a journalist from the Agency of
Social Information (ASI), “We don’t have many chances to intervene in
investigations of such criminal cases, but we can request that the American
authorities check more often and more thoroughly the conditions in which the
adopted child lives.”

When placing children with a Russian family the government must pay
particular attention to providing adequate training to potential foster parents.
Golavan has reminded us that training will be compulsory from September 2012.
“We must not place children with families where they may be subjected to
violence; this is unacceptable in any form. In some cases it would be better
for a child to be in a children’s home than have to suffered violence from
foster parents.”

In Golovan’s view, Russia cannot ban adoptions by foreigners, since this
contravenes the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Russia is a
signatory. Golovan believes that there must be a more thorough selection of
Russian foster parents so that the majority of children can live in Russian
families. He thinks that the state “should encourage those families who are
prepared to foster children, find ways of supporting them, and promote families’
good example.” 

Tatiana Tulchinskaya, director of the charitable organisation ‘Here and
Now’, which helps orphaned children, is certain that the reason that children
are taken from foster families is because the foster parents are inadequately
trained for their roles. In an interview with a journalist from ASI she
stressed that “In the West, any couple who wish to adopt a child undergo
training and sessions with a psychologist. In Russia, the person training
candidates as potential foster parents does not work with them enough.”

In Tulchinskaya’s view the compulsory training for foster parents has so
far not improved in quality because there are simply not enough specialists.
Furthermore, being orphaned for a second time is traumatic for a child and this
must be given serious consideration. Tulchinskaya opposes a ban on
international adoption as for many children it is the only chance to be
accepted into a family. She emphasised that she supports controls, and that the
foreign parents should observe Russia’s laws and be brought to account for any
contravention of them.

by Lina Numan

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