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You're reading: The enemies of Ukraine’s orphans?

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption is designed to regulate international adoptions with the best interests of the child in mind, as well as to prevent abductions, exploitation, or trafficking of children. This was Ukraine’s seventh attempt to adopt the convention, which has already been adopted by 90 countries. The convention would ease adoption by foreigners, and increase many orphans’ chances for a better life.

In Ukraine, the convention was supported by opposition parties Batkivchchyna and Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform, and a number of non-aligned deputies. At the same time, the pro-government majority failed to support the bill. Only 11 out of 207 Party of Regions lawmakers voted aginst, while Communists gave no votes. Svoboda failed to support it, too.

This result was unexpected – just a few hours before the vote the president’s representative in parliament assured that the Party of Regions would support the convention, as requested by President Viktor Yanukovych.

There can be many explanations behind it, but the result is the same for some of Ukraine’s least fortunate: they are not going to get any chances for a good life.

There are 26,000 orphans in Ukraine hoping to be adopted. More than 24,000 of them are more than six years old, and half of them have health problems.

Many of Ukraine’s orphans wait for years to be adopted for the very same reasons why they are doomed to destitution in state institutions.

Few Ukrainian families can afford the luxury of adopting a child in the times of economic and social instability. At the same time, Ukrainians want to adopt healthy children simply because of the poor quality of Ukraine’s health system and its accessibility.

The remaining children have no chance.

At the same time, foreign families shun Ukraine for primitive bureaucratic reasons: the procedure is way too long and complicated, and so on.

The existing system does not protect the child; it only scares away potential care-givers. Moreover, it benefits the shadow intermediaries, who are irresponsible and lack state oversight.

It’s full of ridiculous rules: for instance, a child can be adopted by a foreigner if they are registered for a year in a relevant central government organization. But what if they aren’t registered?

The convention has already been sabotaged six times by lobbyists of different stripes who have a vested interest in preserving the system, which allows a range of officials – from directors of orphanages to judges who take a decision on adoptions – to profit off bribes from foreigners.

Some in Ukraine rejoice in the fact that they are keeping foreigners at bay. But in reality, we leave children at the mercy of the mafia of intermediaries.

I think those deputies who failed against the adoption convention, now have a moral obligation to adopt a sick orphan – one of those who is not only deprived of parental care and health, but of state protection also.

Lesya Orobets is a parliament deputy from Batkivshchyna, an opposition faction. She is one of the lobbyists of the Hague Adoptions Convention in parliament. 

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