Press Release


Media Advisory: For Immediate Release


NEW YORK, April 19, 2010 – The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute today urged officials in Washington and Moscow to move “thoughtfully but expeditiously” to avoid a cessation of Russian adoptions to the U.S., pointing out that “the victims of a lengthy process will be the children who remain institutionalized.”

Executive Director Adam Pertman stressed that the Institute strongly believes the case of the boy “returned” by his adoptive mother should be thoroughly investigated – as should any other incidents of adoptees being harmed or receiving questionable treatment by their parents. Changes in policies and practices should be implemented as swiftly as possible to remedy any specific problems that are identified, he added.

“Even one child suffering physical or psychological harm is one too many,” said Pertman. “But there is no evidence of widespread abuses of this sort, and we know that living in orphanages is generally detrimental in itself, so this process should be done thoughtfully but expeditiously, so that these children can move into permanent, loving families – within Russia if possible, or internationally if not – because the victims of a lengthy process will be the children who remain institutionalized.”

Asserting that perspective is critically important to the decision-making process, the Adoption Institute offered several points for policy-makers, journalists and the public to consider:

    • Research clearly indicates children who spend longer than six months in orphanages are likely to experience deprivation and trauma that results in developmental, psychological and other issues. Typically, the longer the institutionalization, the greater the problems.
    • While children are resilient and most make significant progress after adoption, prospective parents should be carefully evaluated to ensure they are a good “match” for a particular child, and then must be educated on what issues they might encounter and how to handle them.
    • Because most children are adopted from foster care (where they were placed because of earlier abuse or neglect) or from orphanages abroad, the most critical need is for more comprehensive and readily available post-placement services, supports and resources.

“This tragic case is absolutely a wake-up call that we need to make improvements in the system, but it is also a clear exception and should not be viewed by anyone as an indictment of intercountry adoption itself,” said Pertman. “Hundreds of thousands of boys and girls have been adopted from Russia and other nations into the U.S., and the vast majority of them are members of happy, successful families.”

The Adoption Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, national nonprofit that is the pre-eminent research and education organization in its field. Its mission is to improve the lives of everyone touched by adoption – especially children – through better evidence-based laws, policies and practices.

To contact April Dinwoodie for more information or to schedule an interview, call 212-925-4089or email To learn more about the Institute’s work, please go to its award-winning website,, write to or call 212-925-4089.