In 1989, the landmark United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention sets out basic human rights that every child should have. Since then almost every country has ratified it, except the US and Somalia. Nevertheless, UNICEF states that in 2011, a staggering 6.9 million children under five months old died, two-thirds of which could have been prevented.
According to another UNICEF report, in Russia alone over 50,000 children were born to HIV+ parents, and the chances of the children inheriting the illness are high. In addition, a 2008 trial census showed there to be around 700,000 orphans in Russia, a number of whom have medical conditions or disabilities.
Regarding children's upbringing, the Convention states that:
Yet the chances of Russian orphans being adopted in their native country are slim, and it is very difficult, or in some cases impossible, for people from other countries to adopt a child from Russia. Earlier this year, the Russian Duma approved a law that bans the adoption of Russian children by US citizens. It is estimated that over the last two decades, Americans have adopted over 60,000 Russian children. In 2011 alone, US citizens adopted 1,000 children, which placed the US in the top three countries that adopts from Russia.
Furthermore, in July, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law which not only bans same-sex couples from adopting children from Russia but also heterosexual couples from countries where homosexual marriages are legal. This drastically limits the opportunities for these children to be adopted, leaving them to live in orphanages until the age of 16 or 17, and to be turned away after. At this point a number of these children end up in crime, alcohol-abuse or prostitution.
UNICEF’s position on inter-country is that:
Such unnecessary restrictions on the adoption of Russian orphans means that many will remain in orphanages and never enjoy a family environment. The world has moved on since the Convention was adopted. Globally the situation has improved. But in Russia the situation is saddening; and recent adoption laws will only make the life of Russian orphans worse.
Anastasia Doronicheva is a Membership Administration & Projects Intern at UNA-UK.