June 01, 1998

Adopting from Russia: A War of Perceptions



Only one US airline flies non-stop between New York City and Moscow. To some frequent flyers, the route is known as “The Orphan Express.” Since 1992, when Russia began allowing foreigners to adopt its orphans, 15,000 Russian children have joined families abroad, many traveling this route to the US. In the accounting year ending September 1997, Russia became the number one source of international adoptions for the U.S., with 3,816 kids swapping nations.

Despite the fact that the majority of these adoptions are successful – and that many of these kids’ lives are literally saved – a huge amount of negative media attention, in both countries, has left Russians and Americans suspicious. The immediate needs of thousands of children are in danger of becoming obscured by the hurt pride and frustration of Russians and by Americans’ fear that these orphans are irreparably damaged and incapable of joining a family.

Russian Life found adoption professionals cowed by press abuse, and adoptive parents hesitant to discuss anything that might fan the flames of anti-adoption sentiment. We also discovered that, while it is true that some adoptions fail – some disastrously so – most children adopted, who would have grown up in orphanages and faced lives of little opportunity, have found families that love them and an overall better chance at life.


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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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