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Russian adoptees & an “Adoption Blogger Day” Ah, how special!

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These are Russian children, each adopted by Americans:

  • DAVID POLREIS, JR (birth name unknown)
  • LOGAN HIGGINBOTHAM (birth name unknown)
  • VIKTOR MATTHEY, born Viktor Sergeivich Tulimovnull
  • LUKE EVANS, (birth name unknown)
  • JACOB LINDORFF, (birth name unknown)
  • JESSICA ALBINA HAGMANN (birth name unknown)
  • ZACHARY HIGIER (born Nikita Khoryakovont)
  • MARIA ANASTASIA BENNETT, (birth name unknown) null
  • LIAM DMITRY THOMPSON, born Dmitry Sergeyevich Ishlankulov null
  • ALEX PAVLIS, born Alex Geiko null
  • DENNIS GENE MERRYMAN, born Denis Uritsky
  • NINA HILT, born Viktoria Bazhenova null
  • ISSAC JONATHAN DYKSTRA, (birth name unknown) null
  • NICOLI (KOLYA) EMELYANTSEV, (birth name unknown) null
  • CHASE HARRISON, born Dmitry Yakolev null
  • KELSEY HYRE
  • MASHA ALLEN

who went on to be murdered, or suffered ongoing sexual abuse, or permanent injury as a direct result of actions taken by their American adopters.


The torment these adopted kids suffered is the backdrop to current international adoption events and are why in some ways we’re even having this discussion.

I am assuming most of the folks reading this post, particularly today do not know their names, nor have you visited the graves of murdered Russian adoptees.

I have. Though I readily admit, I came in relatively late to it.

Bastardette, and her blog dedicated to tracking these cases “NIKTO NE ZABYT — NICHTO NE ZABYTO/Nobody is forgotten. Nothing is forgotten. A Memoriam for Russian Adoptees abused and Murdered by their Forever Families” has carefully preserved their memories, their pictures, and the stories behind each and every one of these names and pictures.

These are all from her site, preserved over the course of years, as she worked to keep their memories alive. They are the “before” pictures. Pictures from “before” the events occurred that lead us to remember their names now.

In light of all the ‘happily ever after’ pictures that various people will be posting today (see below) it seems the very least readers could do to take a moment and read their stories as well, if only to glean from the words on the words on a screen at least, the most basic outlines of how their “happily ever afters” came to such horrific ends.

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See Bastardette’s overview of the case studies here,  Cases: Forever Family, Forever Dead and the rest of her blog for post by post, case by case details Scrolling back through the posts provides a great deal of background to how this level of frustration and anger has built over time. How time and again, children died, their deaths touched off international incidents, and yet again and again, Russia gave the U.S. additional chances. Unfortunately all they have to show for their patience is an ever growing list of dead children.

(Also see * at bottom.)


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Also be certain to see her analysis of the consequences (and lack thereof) to the American adoptive parents:

The Russian Adopted Dead: a review of killers and sentences.


Today the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) an adoption industry trade lobby here in the U.S. desires to clog social media with “positive adoption stories” in other words, adopter spam, (and no doubt grateful adoptee spam as well) culled from its member agencies’ adoptive parents files and email lists in a last ditch desperate attempt to try to stop Russia from ending American adoptions in the wake of the one way flight that took Artyem Saviliev from his “forever family” in the United States back to Russia.

They’ve called for an “Adoption Blogger Day.” Note that it’s not an Adoptee Blogger Day, because some of what Bastards have to say doesn’t exactly line up with the industry’s program.

Each of those tweets or FB entries or blog posts are calibrated towards a specific goal, ensuring inter-country adoptions continue. In other words,  astro-turfing up a blizzard of  ‘adoption is wonderful’ aimed at international adoption policy and maintaining the import of Russian adoptees.

Or as those of you familiar with Dune might ‘get,’ “The Spice must flow.”

Russia is after all, America’s number three supplier of adopted kids, and number one supplier of primarily “white” kids.  

So, think America wants to keep the pipeline to Russia flowing? You bet!

You think the industry is going to let that go without a fight, think again!

JCICS has a petition which they ever so humbly entitle their “We Are the Truth Petition” to be sent off to Presidents  Medvedev and Obama. Apparently they hope to crowd out any other, less feel good “truths” about Russian Adoptees and their American adopters, let alone any other voices pertaining to adoption as an institution. After all, if they are “the Truth” what does that make anyone who such much as questions, let alone disagrees? (Inherently liars?)

I’m no longer amazed by the sheer gall of the industry and its clients to lay claim to terminology the likes of “we are… .”

When it comes to adoption, adoptees ourselves are the “truth” at the core of it. We ourselves are adoption, we live adoption (some of us even die adoption), and whether we particularly like it or not, Bastards are those most inseparable from adoption.

If anyone is entitled to use the “we are” in relation to adoption, it’s adopted people, not the industry.

Such is not the case for the industry, it walks away from its “little mishaps” constantly. (Usually with a press release or ten discussing how much of an “isolated incident” such are.)

Nor is such the case for adoptive parents, as Artem’s case makes headline clear, adopters are ultimately able to walk away from their adoptions, (or perhaps send their adoptions flying away from them at the cost of a plane ticket.) Most adoption disruptions lack the media angle, but still adoption disruptions are nowhere near as rare as the pretty brochures in the agency waiting rooms would lead anyone to believe.

Parents, and other members of those families of origin so often kept in the shadows or locked behind sealed records likewise, in many ways have a much more difficult time ever leaving their aspects of adoption apart from themselves, yet some do and some family members are simply never told they have a sibling or a son out there, somewhere.

It is adopted people, Bastards alone who are and live whatever “truth” there might be in adoption, because for us it is an inescapable fact of our very being. Even in cases of Late Discovery Adoptions (LDAs) or even those never told of their adoptive status, whether aware or unaware, we are adoption.

Were adoption truely all about the kids as everyone continues to insist it is, then no adoptive parent could truely speak to whether or not any given adoption was “successful” or not, as that is for those adopted alone to decide for themselves.

It should also be noted that even in cases where a particular adoptee had what they would determine to be a “successful” adoption (compared to what exactly? Being beaten with an aluminum baseball bat, whipped, and locked in overnight in a damp unheated pump room to die like poor Viktor?) Even “successful” adoptions cannot be taken as any form of automatic support for future adoptions. That would be nothing more than “ends justifies the means.”

Yet not surprisingly that ends justifies the means thinking, and utilization of adoptive couples’ stories to co-op authentic voice and attempt to speak on behalf of what could be future Russian adoptees is precisely what JCICS is trying to pull with this little stunt.

So their “Adopton Blogger Day”? Well, let me ask the obvious, who is adoption? And are they all alive to blog their feelings about this particular matter?

In the industry’s painted picture, there is no other side to adoption, no voice other than that of the adoptawonderful (evenifthegoinggetstoughjustmakesforabettertestimony!) and thus the growing body count of dead Russian adoptees continues to be swept under the rug.

Many Americans, even adoptive parents of Russian adoptees are blithely unaware of the tragic history.

As Bastardette wrote:

“Experts” like to say that these kinds of deaths are “rare,” yet no other national or ethnic cohort of children placed internationally with US parents have sustained such abuse.

All other unpleasant truths, (to name just a few):

  • corruption
  • child trafficking
  • the heartbreak of mothers whose children have been in some cases literally kidnapped
  • lifetimes built on lies
  • the inter-country adoptee deportations (except when such stories are useful to the industry)
  • the agony of the sealed records system
  • fabricated paperwork
  • the abuse so many adoptees have suffered at the hands of their “new families,” let alone the deaths

indeed the very presence of the multi-billion dollar adoption industry itself, all are dismissed as somehow ‘not pertinent.’

‘Not pertinent’ to the industry perhaps, but to Bastards, adoptees, families (of origin) and the communities and even countries left behind these are capital “t”  Truths in adoption.

The online petition calls for an investigation and consequences to those involved in child abuse, all while conveniently ignoring JCICs own unpleasant little Truth in adoption, the fact that the very agency that placed Artem, the World Association for Children and Parents, or WACAP, is itself a JCICS member agency.

Naturally,  JCICS is collecting photographs, videos, and adoptive couple’s stories about their purchased “positive outcomes” for use in further propaganda and a media blitz.

As with the other atrocities committed by American adopters against the Russian adoptees, the broader pattern, JCICS and NCFA, the National Council for Adoption (WACAP is also a NCFA member though NCFA has done a bit of spring cleaning in the wake of Artem’s case, scrubbing WACAP from its online directory of member agencies) another  industry lobby in the DC area, when anything horrible happens it is immediately dismissed as an “isolated incident.”

Sure enough, right on schedule, after Artem the press releases are flying, each emphasizing “isolated incident!” as if such were a sacred mantra that might keep the adoption industry safe and intact if only for just one more day.

For each of the children who died or was abused by their adopters, these were not isolated incidents, they were their lives, and for those lucky enough to still be alive, now their history.

These things can only be cynically mis-labeled “isolated incidents” when it doesn’t happen to you.

Yes, the industry can point to thousands of satisfied customers. Are all those digital snapshots enough to bury a 2 year old, beaten and cut over 90% of his body before he finally expired all over again? David’s short sad life still holds meaning no matter how many tweets the industry tries to throw over his small broken body.

For the kids who were forced to endure such suffering, “isolated incident” doesn’t mean shit.

These were kids, they had names. They had family members back on the other side of the globe, upon arriving in the U.S. via adoption they held joint citizenship, American and Russian.

They matter, even if only to Bastards and Russians.

Perhaps most telling of all is the order of the wording, and the wording itself on the JCICS petition:

Recognizing that the tragic abandonment of Artyem Saviliev is an isolated incident and is not at all indicative of the thousands of successful adoptions between Russia and the United States, we, the undersigned:

- Respectfully call on President Medvedev and President Obama to lead an effort to ensure that the rights of children are protected and that every child’s right to a permanent and safe family is not interrupted due to the suspension of intercountry adoption services.

- Respectfully call on President Medvedev and President Obama to ensure that their governments aggressively prosecute any individual involved in child abuse to the fullest extent of the law.

I.E. first things first, no interruptions in the ability to export children from Russia, oh and secondly? Yeah go after any INDIVIDUAL. Not the agency that did the homestudy (Adoption Assistance, Inc. in Smyrna, Tennessee, Lisa Mosley, casework supervisor,) nor the agency, WACAP that was ultimately responsible, and most certainly never question the almost unregulated industry itself! (Doing so might call into question so many things! Why, such questioning could bring up so many of those unpleasant truths about adoption, best not to even start down that road!)

JCICS co-opts authentic voice when it insists it is now a child’s “right” to undergo inter-country adoption.

When in fact, one of the very foundational documents that recognizes children’s rights, the United Nations DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD is quite explicit about the genuine right to remain with their family of origin barring “exceptional” circumstances. I’m only going to quote a few short sentences here, but please see my full previous analysis here, particularly relating to how it pertains to inter-country adoption:

Note the UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The ‘rights’ being spelled out for children entail more far more than A family, instead the ‘right’ refers to growing up within their family of origin barring “exceptional circumstances.”

See principle 6, in particular, which states in part:

He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, … a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother.

But of course, it’s much easier for JCICS to propagandistically turn children’s rights on their head, redefining them into some newfound ‘right to adoption’ in that the United States has signed the convention but has yet to complete the ratification process for the treaty, thus ensuring “children’s rights” here at least are up for grabs, defined by whomever has the biggest ability to draw attention, wealth, and those with power to its slick redefintion.

Being a “mere” Bastard Blogger, yet an “adoption expert” myself, on a day when the industry and its satisfied customers have set out to fill the global discourse about adoption, (this on the heels of the in many ways unprecedented and massive child grab in Haiti) I felt it important to take up what little space I can to remember those being pushed out of the narrative, adoptees.

Murdered and abused adoptees from Russia to be specific.

If you’ve read this far and are about to head somewhere else unrelated and you still haven’t followed the links over to Bastardette’s blog, “NIKTO NE ZABYT — NICHTO NE ZABYTO/Nobody is forgotten. Nothing is forgotten shame on you.

These kids deserved a hell of a lot better in life. They deserve at least a moment to be remembered on a day when the adoption industry is dead set on burying them all over again.

Adoptees in “unsuccessful adoptions” that JCICS wants to erase under piles of snapshots and their casual dismissals of just another “isolated incident and is not at all indicative of the thousands of successful adoptions… .”

I think they’re important to remember.

Too important to forget.

(birth name unknown) “DAVID”

(birth name unknown) “LOGAN”

Viktor Sergeivich Tulimov

(birth name unknown) “LUKE”

(birth name unknown) “JACOB”

(birth name unknown) “JESSICA”

Nikita Khoryakovont

(birth name unknown) “MARIA”

Dmitry Sergeyevich Ishlankulov

Alex Geiko

Denis Uritsky

Viktoria Bazhenova

(birth name unknown) “ISSAC”

(birth name unknown) “NICOLI” (KOLYA)

Dmitry Yakolev

“KELSEY”

MASHA


* Those of you who know me, would likely understand that under normal circumstances, I’m loath to utilize religious imagery, particularly that of portrayals of the madonna and child. This however is a particular circumstance. You’d have to know Bastardette, understand the Russian context, etc. Ultimately, I come out to yes, I’ll use use it in this circumstance for two reasons:

  • Firstly, just as the weeping Justice has been Bastardette’s image most closely associated with her post reviewing the killers and sentences, so too has the Madonna and child image been most closely associated visually with her overview of the cases.
  • and secondly, because while many may see in the icon notions of forgiveness, or the soon to be “martyred” child as a parable for the dead adoptees, or even some projected notion of the way adoption was ’supposed to be’, that of the ‘loving adoptive mother’ with her child reaching up to her, what I project onto the image is the ghost of the Russian mothers left behind. When an adopted child dies an ocean away, more often than not their family of origin, even when known, is often never notified. While I do not know whether those Russian parents who could be identified are notified or not, time and time again, what I’ve seen is an absolute focus on the adoptive circumstance and family, with rarely so much as an afterthought given to the moral obligation to notify the child’s original parents. So I chose to use the image, though probably not for the reasons Bastardette or others would. I choose to use it as a firm statement that these children have Mothers too. Though in so many of these cases, Mothers who will never be able to hold their child in their arms again. In remembering these kids, we must also remember the (likely still living) families they came from as well, and hope that they have been told the truth about their children, not given some adoption archetypical bit of tripe promising a “happily ever after” or “a better life.”

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