The June 19 front-page story "Russian Adoptions Orphaned by State" was of great interest, given that my wife and I had returned to Maryland from Russia two days earlier with our newly adopted children.
Our experience confirmed most of what the article said about delays in the process. We waited 15 months to adopt our children.
In Russia, foreign adoptions are regarded as undesirable but necessary. Yet most Russians, though curious about our decision to adopt Russian children, were supportive of our efforts, especially when they were aware of the conditions of orphans in Russia.
There was a horrific case in which an American woman killed her adopted Russian son. In response Nina Ostanina, deputy head of the Committee for Women, Family and Youth, called for continued Russian access to foreign-adopted children. We are all outraged by the killing of a child, but Ms. Ostanina would better serve Russian orphans by addressing the issue of why Russians have adopted so few of the 700,000 orphans in their country. With only 15,000 children adopted annually in Russia, domestically and internationally, many children remain in orphanages until they age out of the system.
The Russian Ministry of Education has published grim statistics about these children, describing high rates of drug addiction, prostitution, exploitation and suicide. Ms. Ostanina could do good by making sure that orphans get the training they need to survive once they leave the system. She also should review the standards for adoptions and address the social stigma of adoption in Russia.
I agree with Ms. Ostanina that foreign adoptions must be regulated consistently and that the protection of the children must be a priority. Yet she also should remember that more than 78,000 Russian children are enjoying productive lives in the United States and in other Western countries that would be largely unavailable to them in Russian orphanages.