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