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U.S. Paralympics Champion Must Become Russian Citizen to Adopt Orphan

Published: December 14, 2013 (Issue # 1790)



  • Children playing at an orphanage in Moscow.
    Photo: Vladimir Filonov / SPT

Paralympics champion Jessica Long who was abandoned by her Russian mother at birth and grew up in the U.S. may be allowed to adopt a Russian orphan if she first obtains Russian citizenship, children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said Friday.

During a recent visit to the Siberian city of Irkutsk, where she was born, Long said she would like to adopt a child from a local orphanage. But Russia's recent law prohibits her from doing that unless she obtains Russian citizenship first, Astakhov said, Itar-Tass reported.

"American citizens are not allowed to adopt Russian children nowadays," Astakhov told reporters. "If she obtains Russian citizenship, then she's welcome to do so."

Long's Russian mother abandoned her at birth because of a disability that required her lower legs to be amputated. She was adopted by a U.S. family from Maryland, went on to excel in a number of sports and became the world record holder in 13 Paralympic events.

Astakhov said there were other ways for foreigners to help Russian orphans without adopting them.

"There are countries that do that without stripping children of their motherland," he said.

Long, 21, maintained her Russian citizenship until coming of age, Astakhov added.

Astakhov also said that Russia aimed to halve the number of its orphanages by 2018, "by placing children with families," RIA Novosti reported.

Astakhov did not elaborate on the details of how that goal would be achieved.

Adoption and foster care rates in Russia have declined over the past few years, the report said.

Russian families adopted 58,000 children in 2012, down from almost 110,000 in 2009, according to Education and Science Ministry statistics released earlier this year. Another 109,000 Russian children are still waiting to be adopted, according to an official list on the ministry's website.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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