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Russian Adoption Debacle – the Alternative

Posted by avnerhershlag on April 16, 2010

  • International adoption is happening in large numbers.  The 3 leading sources of adopted children in the United States in 2009 (according to State Department figures quoted by the NY Times), were:
  • China – 3001 children
  • Ethiopia – 2,277 children
  • Russia – 1,586 children

United States citizens have adopted more than 50,000 Russian children since 1991!

Professor David Smolin, (Cumberland Law School, Ala.) writes on the NYT blog :

“Inter-country adoption, particularly of older children, and most especially of children from abusive families or neglectful institutions, is inherently a high risk process. Children coming from traumatic backgrounds commonly suffer from serious psychological, behavioral, cognitive and educational issues. The language and cultural transitions of inter-country adoption compound and complicate both the child’s trauma and therapeutic interventions.

The child welfare and adoption systems that have created countless cases far more tragic than this latest one are the real criminals.

Unfortunately, the adoption myth in the United States sends the message that the love and care found in any normal American home is enough to heal any child. This myth leads to numerous inadequacies:

  • Inadequate evaluation of children prior to adoption
  • Inadequate preparation, training and selection of prospective adoptive families;
  • Inadequate post-placement services.”


  • This tragic incident brings to light serious problems associated with adoption.
  • These problems, some delineated above by Prof. Smolin, are not limited to international adoptions.  Frequently, mothers who give up babies for adoption have had no prenatal care, and the American adoption agency pushes the couple to sign adoption papers before the mother is checked by a designated Ob/Gyn and the child – by a pediatrician.
  • a less discussed angle of the current debate is: Fertility Treatment as an alternative to adoption.
  • Most adoptions are due to infertility.
  • Some of the adoptive couples are not too old to have a baby.  They just choose adoption, because, “this way we’re sure we get the baby.  Fertility treatment is expensive, and you’re not guaranteed that you’d walk out with a baby.”
  • For those couples: please reconsider; fertility treatment is highly successful.  There are many new options available.  Yes, adoption may be successful.  But in many cases, psycho-social issues may complicate things, becoming a huge burden for a lifetime.
  • Other couples feel that they are too old to have a baby.
  • Men, by design, are almost never too old to reproduce.
  • Women, on the other hand, do experience “reproductive aging” in the middle of their life.
  • I call on women with reduced ovarian reserve: please consider Donor Eggs.
  • With Donor eggs, you get to choose your donor.  Your donor gets screened carefully: for infectious disease; genetics; and psychologically – by a standardized test and an interview with a psychologist.
  • “But this child will not be from my egg, doctor…”  True, but you will have optimal control over the physical, genetic and mental health of the egg donor.
  • The child will inherit half of the genetics of the couple, since your partner’s sperm will be used.
  • And you get to have the maternal experience by carrying the pregnancy and delivering the child.

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