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Deep emotions run beneath Russia's adoption ban

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In other words, a law designed to punish people tied to a lawyer’s prison death has been answered with a law to prevent people from adopting orphaned children, many of whom have have developmental or other disabilities and will otherwise end up living much of their lives in orphanages that often resemble state mental hospitals of a bygone era.

Adoption is a searingly emotional issue for Russians, and one easily manipulated by the Kremlin. The institution of adoption is relatively uncommon in Russia, for cultural and other reasons. And judging by headlines in the Moscow tabloids, and the rhetoric of some state lawmakers, you’d think that Americans adopt Russian children to eat them.

Bolstering those who are suspicious of adoption is a smattering of abuse cases in Russian orphanages that have seized the public attention. In one notorious case, a nurse in a southern Russian children’s home was accused of taping pacifiers to the mouths of children to keep them from crying. And cases like that of Dima and of Artyem Savelyev, whose adoptive American mother sent the then-7-year-old boy home to Russia with a "to whom it may concern" note of rejection in 2010, give Russians fair reason for pause over foreign adoptions.

But for many Russians, the adoption of children by foreigners is a polite way of saying “foreigners are purchasing our children for export.” Some 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans in the past two decades, and Russia trails only China and Ethiopia in popularity for Americans seeking to adopt foreign children, according to the US State Department.

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