WASHINGTON, September 20 (By RIA Novosti) – A US Senator and leading voice on the tangled and thorny topic of international child adoption said this week Russia is doing “a great disservice to itself” by raising parentless children in institutions, but expressed little hope that Moscow’s ban on adoptions of Russian children by American parents would be lifted anytime soon.
"Every doctor knows how harmful institutional care is to children. It affects their emotional, mental, and physical development," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, herself the mother of two adopted children.
"What I really want to say to the people of Russia is, 'Get your kids out of institutions and get them back into the loving arms of parents, relatives, or families that will love them and care for them,'" she told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an interview on Thursday.
She also offered a scathing comment about Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s child rights commissioner, a strong champion of the ban on US-Russian adoptions enacted by Moscow in January and an outspoken critic of the American adoption system.
"He doesn't want to hear the truth," Landrieu said. "He's an ass. You can write that: He's an ass!"
Her comments came after a Capitol Hill press conference to announce new legislation authored by Landrieu and others to help find families around the world for children without parents.
It also streamlines the international adoption process for American families and develops a system for reviewing international adoptions in the US.
Landrieu made the comment about Astakhov the day after he said Russia has a system for providing training to adoptive families and is prepared to teach Americans how to create and maintain such a service.
“America has a troubled system,” Astakhov said.
“We want to help and we have experience of our own,” he added.
More than 60,000 children from Russia have been adopted by Americans since the early 1990’s, according to the US State Department, but the number has dropped significantly in recent years.
At least 20 adopted Russian children are known to have died in the care of their American parents, and Russian officials have said they suspect many more children have been abused.