Children Are Once Again the Victim of Politics

The ban on Americans adopting Russian children is a political retaliation that hurts children everywhere

The victimization of children takes on many forms. Some of these forms are obvious to us: abuse and neglect often are accompanied by obvious signs, although those signs are sometimes missed until the abuse or neglect is discovered. Other forms of victimization are not always so obvious to us, for instance, when children are politicized. Take for example Vladimir Putin and his recent signing of a law that will prevent U.S. citizens from adopting Russian orphans. For the past two decades, the United States has been the largest source of adoptions for Russian orphans. UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia currently. There are currently families that are in the middle of or even near the end of the adoption process involving Russian children, and these processes are now immediately halted as a result of this ban. (For more on families affected, read this piece in the New York Times.) What is to become of these children?  According to the Orphan Coalition, Russia’s leading issues that lead to children being orphaned are drug and alcohol abuse and poverty. Perhaps Putin would be better invested in attempting to address those issues to reduce the number of orphans than to politicize the children themselves and take from them one of the potential outlets they were afforded to better livelihood.

Unfortunately, the politicization of children is a world-wide issue. There are today, very few legislative decisions that occur that do not have some form of trickle-down effect on children. While our own politicians will be quick and loud in denouncing this law and the negative effects it will have on children, they should be first to take to heart their comments. Many of the economic, cost-cutting measures being considered in local, state, and federal legislatures are opening doors to what is really valued—and it is all too often not our children. While children are citizens, they are not among the voting block and so there is no voice for their well-being loud enough for our politicians to listen. Furthermore, children cannot contribute much in the form of political leverage or financial backing and so there is little lobbying efforts they can contribute to the conversation. Children, from a political perspective, are actually the perfect victims. More specifically, poor children often are the ones that suffer the most when we lose focus of our priorities when it comes to children.

A very popular photo feed on Instagram involves rich kids taking pictures of themselves on yachts, driving their Porsches- exploiting the benefits of life for wealthy youth. They are not affected greatly when community schools have to close because we’ve prioritized more money to funding national defense than to supporting childhood education. When poor children are victimized by cutting the resources and services they have available to get medical treatment; when they are victimized by having to go to school in facilities that look more like prisons—bars in the windows, metal detectors, armed guards; when they are victimized by political power plays such as Putin’s latest attempt at flexing his political muscle—it’s a sad testimony on where the priorities lay. Putin’s recent decision is simply one more example of how our world leaders victimize children, in the process, jeopardizing our collective future as a society.

—Photo by Pink Sherbert Photography/Flickr


About Andrew Pollom

Andrew Pollom lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter and works in higher education at small liberal arts institution. He's a life long Cubs fan, improvisation chef master, and loves reading, writing, traveling, football, baseball, March Madness, camping, fishing, hiking, and absolutely anything to do with food and Zoos, but not Zoo food.


  1. A friend of mine who is American born and raised, but of Dominican descent was considering adopting a child with her husband. Since she is Dominican, she thought it might be nice to adopt a Dominican child. I haven’t checked whether this is or was true at the time, but she claimed that she researched the subject heavily and found that if you are not Dominican you cannot adopt a Dominican child unless you agree to live in the Dominican Republic for six months to a year before adopting the child because they want to make sure the parents instill Dominican culture in the child.

    I was absolutely horrified. I severely hope that it is not true because it would just be unimaginably awful. Regardless, at the time, facts were not be checked. Perhaps the only thing more horrifying than hearing these “requirements” was the dismissive reaction I received when I expressed that it was the most racist, xenophobic, hateful, child endangering thing I have ever heard. The crowd was all Latina except for two Asian women, a Jewish woman, myself, and one other white woman. All of them maintained, “Well people’s culture is important to them! You shouldn’t make them give up their culture. It’s important to nurture culture. Your culture is central to who you are!”

    Call me a typical American, but I don’t think anyone’s culture (including mine) is special, worthy of special attention, central to who someone is as a person, or necessary in maintaining a balanced life. I like other cultures. I think they are fascinating and give us an interesting perspective of the vastness of human experience….but I’ve never believed that geography is an essential part of someone’s being. To date, not one, single, solitary being on this earth has yet to explain to me the importance of cultural pride, but yet, so many people have insisted that it’s immeasurably important. It’s the one thing I’ve ever heard of that has actually brainwashed people more than religion.

    I don’t believe in cultural pride because it fosters more harm than good. I think people can be HAPPY to be from a certain culture….but not proud. As George Carlin said, “Pride should be reserved for something you achieve or attain on your own, not something that happens as an accident of birth. Being Irish isn’t a skill.” Being Dominican isn’t a skill either. Insisting that instilling cultural brainwashing into a child is more important than the child having a loving family, is beyond unfortunate. It’s downright obscene.

    If anyone is interested in the rest of George Carlin’s thoughts on the topic:

  2. Vlad the Childish did not ruin the lives of thousands of Russian children over politics. It was a tantrum. Politics? Not in ANY WAY!!!!!

    Why is it that people are SO willing to trust leaders like Vlad or Barry with their health, lives and safety when they can see examples of abuse like this? Lemmings!

  3. Stefan Thiesen says:

    This is in no way a logical step by Putin. It is a political provocation at best, and one that presumably has the potential to harm children in his own country. The logics of sandbox fights all over again: you throw sand at me, I throw sand at you. But on the back of real children. That’s so weak.

  4. Tom B - SOX fan says:

    This isn’t the first time that a foreign country has ban American adoptions. Off the top, I believe that Korea took similar actions a while ago.

    My brother adopted three Russian children (siblings). Two of the three had medical conditions including a cleft palate … these children were not adoptable in the eyes of the Russians. My brother was limited as to photos he could take of the living conditions these children were forced to live in. All three are doing very well … in fact Natalia just enlisted into the Air Force.

    Considering we still give Russia almost a half billion dollars in financial and military aid, you’d think we could do a little more about this situation.

    • Tom, it’s really sad but I can’t say I’m surprised. I don’t know much about Russian culture and superstition, but in many cultures, to this day, in the 21st century, children born with physical deformities are considered “evil” or “cursed.”

      If you really want to get depressed, look at Ukranian orphans who, to this day, are born with irreparable birth defects as a result of Chernobyl. I’d shudder to think that someone would prevent these children from being adopted because the parents are from another country. Thankfully, to date, Ukraine allows Americans to adopt.


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