Anyone unfamiliar with the hyperbole of post-Cold War politics might be perplexed by Moscow’s move to outlaw American adoption of Russian orphans.
More than 60,000 Russian children once condemned to a hellish institutional life have been brought into U.S. homes over the last two decades, most of them suffering disabilities that would have gone untreated had they been left in the Dickensian orphanages of their homeland. The disabled remain victims of stigma in Russia, while a struggling economy and the Stalin-era brand of orphans being “children of the enemies of the people” continue to dissuade Russians from adopting their own unfortunates.
But Russians’ inability and unwillingness to take care of their legions of unwanted children is nevertheless the source of deep embarrassment and wounded national pride, Russia experts say. And having Americans swooping in and rescuing them by the thousands each year nurtures an inferiority complex that has only deepened since the superpower rivalry purportedly ended with the Soviet Union's 1991 breakup.