09 April 2010

7 Year Old Sent Back To Moscow by Adoptive Mother

The Russian foreign minister has suggested that Moscow suspend the adoption of Russian children by American families. His comments came as a reaction to the alleged abandonment of a 7 year old boy by a Tennessee woman. The boy's adoptive mother put him on a plane back to Moscow a year after he arrived in the US, claiming that he had severe "psychopathic" issues that the adoption agency never told her about.

I'm not certain about the ethics of this issue... I'm pretty sure a person ought not return a child to an adoption agency like she would a TV to Best Buy, but then again if the adoption agency misrepresented the boy's emotional issues then the women isn't totally at fault (well... maybe she should should have arranged for someone to pick the boy up from the airport other than some guy she found on the internet).

In the short term, this incident has caused a bit of friction between Washington and Moscow, and has also cast a spotlight on a larger issue: if Russia is a major global power, then why are American's adopting it's children? More importantly, Russia's population is dropping off pretty dramatically. The United Nations Statistics Division has put the average rate of population decline in the Russian Federation at an average of a half percent per year between 2005 and 2010. Population decline is a pretty severe demographic trend; its a symptom social malaise and if left untreated can cause severe economic problems. Over the long run, its going to decrease the size of Russia's labor force, shrink its domestic investment and consumption markets, and lower the base of workers that can pay for social insurance programs. If Moscow really wants to reverse its demographic trends, its going to have to do more than ban foreign adoptions.

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