The Guardian newspaper reports that German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his wife have recently adopted an orphan from Russia…
Three-year-old Victoria, from St Petersburg, has been living at the Schröders’ family home in Hanover in northern Germany for several weeks…
…It appears that the whole Schröder family flew to Russia a few weeks ago to collect the toddler.
The addition to the family was such a closely guarded secret that the secret service agency which provides Mr Schröder’s bodyguards was told “the Schröders will be four” just before they arrived at the plane to fly them home, Bild reported.
While I wish them all the best, I must confess that it always puzzles me a little that so many people (around 4,000-5,000 per year from the US alone) will go so far abroad to adopt when there are almost always thousands of children in their own countries also seeking adoption.
The many thousands of orphans in Russia (more than 180,000 according to the Guardian article) is certainly a tragedy and the often very poor conditions in which they live do tug at the heart-strings. They do need help, and many adoptors will have very good reasons for adopting abroad, but I can’t help but wonder how much of the rush to adopt foreign babies is also partly due to the kudos which having a child from a far away land brings. Who wants a baby from Indianapolis when you can have one from Irkutsk instead? And is plucking the lucky few away to enjoy a life of prosperity in the West, while leaving the unlucky ones behind in an unchanged environment, really the best way to help these children?
Hmm… maybe I’m just getting too cynical in my old age.
Dave got a few of them down. Also suggested, but not explicit in his remarks is the issue of time. It takes forever and a day to adopt a kid here.
I have two adopted cousins from Moscow. My aunt and uncle got them very, very quickly.
My now ex-husband and I adopted a bi-racial child from the southern U.S. The worker who did our home study wanted to know what race of people were in our neighborhood and our church. We had to convince him that no family member on either side was predjudiced. We then had to convince him that my father, who is predjudiced, would not see our son enough to injure him mentally. I am not on good terms with my father anyway so it was not deemed a problem. Also, we were lucky and had a good judge. Some judges will not give white people a black or bi-racial child. White children are very hard to come by. Also, experts keep saying that bi-racial adoptions don’t work in that the children end up resenting the adoptive parents. That fact scares a lot of people off. So therefore a lot of people adopt foreign children.
If if was as easy to adopt an infant from Indianapolis as in Russia, no one would be traveling to Russia.
I’m not sure about the Schroeders and Germany, but I think that some of the issues in the States are as follows:
1> Fewer white kids being put up for adoption. Many parents don’t want to create a “conspicuous” family by adopting a black or asian child. Even including “ethnic” adoptees, there is still a mismatch between “supply” and “demand” for healthy adoptable kids, so we “import.”
2> The insanity of lawsuits/family courts/bureaucracies. Do you really want to adopt a child, then have to go to court to keep it because the child’s father, who was never informed about the birth, suddenly decides months later that he wants his child? Do you want to go to court because the crack-addled mother went to rehab and wants her child back? I don’t think so. What are the odds that some impoverished Svetlana from Okhotsk will manage to challenge your adoption if she changes her mind? Pretty low. As sad as it is, I think that is much of the reality.
As someone who when living in russia was preipherally involved in several adoptions I can tell you why the Schroeders (and others) do it outside their home country.
There is no way that in any western country a 60 year old man would be able to become an adoptive father. Simply could not happen.