Thursday, September 01, 2005


Russian Orphan Scam

My wife and I were watching a Russian crime show tonight. Actually, I was watching as she translated. According to this show the employees of the orphanage, a psychiatric hospital and the police worked together to commit orphans and steal apartments that are giving to the orphans when they reach their eighteenth birthday. Doctors of psychiatry would visit the orphange and routinely report that orphans were mentally ill. They would give the children impossible tests and when they failed they would be marked. This was especially true if they knew that the child's mother abused alcohol or drugs. At times, to control the children, they are given Demerol to keep them passive.

Children as young as 5 years old were sent to mental hospitals. Electro-shock therapy is a treatment. One girl had over twice the recommended voltage (460v) used during a session which left her permanently damaged. The government gives the orphans an apartment to live in and a stipend when they turn eighteen. When the orphans are committed this is split among the people that conspire to keep these poor people away from the small amount that Russian society gives them.

It is common for foreign couples to come to Russia to adopt children. The Delta airlines flight between N.Y. and Moscow is known as the baby flight. I took it once. Once. I can report many children were on this flight and I am sure that it was the first time that any of them had been aboard an airplane. For a Russian couple who wants to adopt a child, there is no charge. In fact the adopting parents are paid a small amount by the government. But really it is a labor of love. As you might have guessed an American couple would be expected to pay more. What you wouldn't realize is that the government is not charging them for the children, it is the people working at the orphange. They make a great deal of money selling these children to Americans.

There is no word low enough to describe people who would abuse orphans for any reason. I would say that any Americans who come to Russia to adopt remember that it is a negotiation but it is most important that you are taking that child away from a life of misery. Give them as little money as possible but get that child out of here.


After talking with my wife about the life of a Russian orphan I learned that these people are treated like second class citizens. There are many children living on the streets of Moscow who chose to live there because the conditions of the orphanages are so poor.

U.S. Embassy in Moscow's International adoption page

The Irma Pavlis case and a lot of information about the way that bribes corrupt the Russian adoption system and hurt Russian orphans:

It’s easy to picture an average dealer in this illegal industry: loving children and wishing them well, having access to local court and educational bodies, or most likely working there; having orphanage directors as friends; perfectly sure what he is doing is a good deed. What’s more, he — although more often it’s a she, a business-like middle-aged woman with a pedagogical degree and work experience — is a criminal and knows that what she is doing is actually human trafficking. And if somebody asks the dealer to assist some quiet Americans from Chicago, the dealer is not going to be too scrupulous about papers and certificates. These Americans couldn’t possibly buy children to beat them, not for such huge sums. And you can’t get so much money from Russians.

6,000 adopted Russian children in the United States and another 3,000-4,000 worldwide is a market with a minimum turnover of $100 million a year. Much of this money goes to Russian children traders.

It’s the fault of the abovementioned middle-aged ladies that Russian nationals have to wait for ages before they can adopt an orphaned child, although the priority of Russian foster parents is stated not only in the Hague Convention, but in a dozen other documents. And these ladies are to blame also that stories similar to little Alexei Pavlis’s will be repeated, unless the current “market” situation changes.


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