Orphans and children deprived of parental care are now the hub of ideological disputes. Oleh Tiahnybok, leader of Svoboda (Freedom) Party, emphasized in an interview to mass media that his party is going to insist on implementing an item from his political force’s platform which bans foreign citizens to adopt Ukrainian children. In his conversation with The Day, Svoboda Party member Andrii Mokhnyk offered the following arguments in support of the regulation mentioned above: “The Ukrainian nation is able to take care of orphans. Even in the conditions of statelessness such children were looked after, they were taught in schools, and they could have had some kind of prospect in society.” The MP notes that a total robbery of the state by Yanukovych’s regime is going on, and this deprives the country of funds necessary for orphaned children. “That is why Svoboda proposes to cut spending on the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet of Ministers, and the Presidential Administration. Then the money for orphanages will appear,” he emphasized.
It should be mentioned that orphanages are probably the least advanced form of supporting children been deprived of parental care. European experience involves the creation of family-type orphanages and childhood homes, which make children’s socialization easier and prepare them for independent living or placement in foster families. The latter is similar to the adoptive family, but the temporary shelter for a child is provided by specially trained people who know how to behave with children, solve different situations, avoid conflicts, etc.
According to Mokhnyk, Svoboda has an intention of implementing some preventive measures as well. “Our party’s platform stipulates not only this prohibition, but also creation of suitable living conditions to avoid the situations when parents start drinking and abandon their children. Instead, we want to give them an opportunity to work, earn decent wages and be able to support the family,” the MP noted. Besides, the party will demand strengthening of control over children that have already been adopted by foreigners. “Nobody knows what happens to children in the intervals between checks (for younger children they are scheduled once a year, for older ones – once every three years). Nobody knows whether they are not abused, forced into sexual slavery, or have their body organs sold,” Mokhnyk says. Ukraine will be able to implement close control over children adopted by foreigners in case the Hague Convention submitted for the Verkhovna Rada consideration is ratified (see The Day No. 7, January 17, 2013). The convention provides for the transparency of the adoption process and further supervision of children. However, if the Convention is supported, the prohibition mentioned above will not be implemented.
Nadia Tatarchuk, deputy director of the international charity organization “Hope and Homes for Children,” has some concerns about the state’s ability to implement the principles declared by the Hague Convention. “We need to pay attention to whether our government agencies are ready to carry out the necessary measures for the Convention implementation, whether they have written out procedural issues, accreditation, and funds,” she says.
It should be noted that according to the statement made by the authorized representative of the president of Ukraine for children’s rights Yurii Pavlenko, there was not a single case of violation of rights of children adopted by foreigners during the past seven years. Earlier, Pavlenko noted in his commentary to The Day that Ukrainian legislation is aimed at development of the national adoption. As for citizens of other countries, there is a number of limitations for them, from a regulation that does not allow single foreigners to adopt children, to a rule that does not let foreign nationals adopt healthy children up to five years old. That is why it is thought that foreigners tend to adopt children with special needs or serious diagnoses. But Mokhnyk has a different opinion on that. “It is immoral to speculate on the topic of sick orphans. There are about a thousand of them in Ukraine, but it is projected on all the orphans, and the stories of foreigners’ ‘charity’ are told. Foreigners adopt healthy children in the first place.”
According to the statistical data provided by the Ministry of Social Policy, there is no competition between domestic and foreign adopters. Restrictions imposed by law show the result. In general, during the past year, foreigners adopted 588 children, 420 of them being older than 5 years old. But Ukrainian adopters follow a different tendency: they adopt children who are less than five years old. Thus, in 2012, our fellow citizens adopted 1,445 children, and 1,302 of them were under five years old. Therefore, foreigners accept children who basically have no chances to find a family in Ukraine.
Mokhnyk believes that Ukrainians adopt so few children because of all the red tape. “According to the data provided by the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sport, there are over 30,000 children that can be adopted, but only about 5,000 are adopted annually. A lot of Ukrainian families that would like to adopt children, are forced to stay in waiting lines.”
It is remarkable that the raise of the regulation banning adoption of children by foreigners coincided in time with similar processes in Russia. However, Svoboda’s MP denies any connection. “Prohibition on adoption of Ukrainian children by foreigners is a part of the Svoboda Party platform, which was created long before Putin became a president. So, what coincidence can we talk about? They did it in response to the Magnitsky Act, and we proceed from our own national interests.”
According to Mokhnyk, now Svoboda intends to submit “a draft law on prohibition of adoption of Ukrainian children by same-sex couples, which is typical of modern Europe.” It should be noted that Paragraph 3 of Article 211 of the Family Code of Ukraine reads: “Adopters cannot be of the same sex.” Pavlenko provided a counterargument during a briefing in Lviv: “Do we have a definition of same-sex marriage in our Family Code? No, we do not. So how can we prohibit something that does not exist?” said he as quoted by media. He noted that same-sex marriages were often disguised as living single. However, there already is a prohibition for adoption by single foreigners.
Dmytro HROISMAN, human rights activist:
“In terms of human rights, while regulating the adoption issue, the state has to act in the best interest of a child who is being adopted instead of treating the child as state property. The state should only worry about how well the child will be treated in the new environment, new family, family-type orphanage, or, heaven forbid, state orphanage. The matter of observance of the child’s rights in case of adoption by foreigners is the only thing that should concern the state, which is just a regulator in this case.
“We should also talk about the real-life Ukrainian practice. Indeed, there are a large number of families in our country who cannot have children, and they gladly adopt. But our culture is imperfect when it comes to family traditions. There are quite a lot of people who refuse to take their children from maternity hospitals after learning that the children are sick. Moreover, our people are not willing to accept sick children to their families.
“Such approach is not typical for European culture at all. This shows that Ukraine is not mentally ready for the integration with the countries of Old Europe, and it would be a mistake to accept Ukraine to the circle of united European nations until it changes.
“So, there is a line of potential Ukrainian adopters for healthy Ukrainian children. And for sick Ukrainian children, there is a line of foreign adopters ready to give happiness, love, and family comfort to any child, healthy or sick. In this situation, any initiatives on limiting access of foreign adopters to Ukrainian children will only harm our children, who need care. And unfortunately, there are so many of them.
“The prohibition on adoption of children by foreigners is currently in act in Korea and Turkmenistan. If Ukraine joins these countries, potential foreign adopters will give their love to other children, it won’t be a big problem for the state or foreign adopters. But it will create problems for Ukrainian children, who will have to remain on the so-called state allowance.”