The Dima Yakovlev Bill is obviously a retaliation which is motivated by foreign policy consideration and not by the interest of children. It however draws on a brewing conflict between Russia and the USA which has gained momentum during the last year. Russia is with China and Ethiopia one of the most important sending country for IA into the USA. During the last 20 years American families adopted about 60.000 children from Russia. At least 19 children died at the hands of their adoptive parents. A highly controversial case is the death of Dima Yakovlev. The 2year old boy was left by his adoptive father in his car seat for an entire day and died of dehydration. Another widely publicised case was Artyom Savelyev, who was sent back to Russia on his own with a note by his adoptive mother that she refused to parent him any longer. A farm in Montana which specialised a facility for children with severe behavioural problems was strongly criticized by the ombudsman for the right of children in Russia, Pavel Astakhov. Other critical issues were the fact that US adoption agencies circulate photos of children on the internet who had not been placed for adoption by Russian agencies and were generally rather insensitive when dealing with Russian authorities. Because of these controversies a bilateral agreement had been negotiated in summer 2012 and came into force in November. It stipulated a number of measures such as the ban of independent adoptions, a stronger role of Russian authorities in the process of adoption disruptions and the prosecution of adoptive parents who hurt their children in the USA and tighter supervision of authorities. However there are claims that the US authorities are not willing or prepared to give the Russian authorities the role as observers in court cases as agreed.
- There is no question that the Russian government has the right to ban IA, whether it is bad for its children or not. Care provisions for children are in the sole responsibility of nation states.
- The right of authorities of sending countries to monitor the wellbeing of children in their new homes is rather unusual. Usually adopted children become citizens of the country of their adoptive parents and are subjected to the laws of that country. Authorities and families in sending countries do usually not have more than the right to receive regular reports. The bilateral agreement contains an element of mistrust towards not only adoptive parents but also American court system which is problematic. It however indicates - maybe correctly - that internationally adopted children have no lobby who ensure their wellbeing when abuse take place within the family.
- American adoption agencies are still too driven by their own agenda and do not respect legal and ethical boundaries. Photolisting of children on the internet violates the right to privacy of those children. They also do not educate adoptive parents about the challenges of raising traumatized and severely handicapped children. As a consequence many adoptive families have a hard time with their children and are generally left on their own. They therefore created the context which the Russian parliament could use to ban adoptions altogether.