This thesis describes and analyzes the Russian-American adoption relationship
between the early 1990s and 2007. In the early 1990s, an Non-Governmental
Organization report depicting Russian orphanages provided Americans with pitiful
images of Russian orphaned children. The report became iconic and shaped the way
Americans perceived Russian orphans and orphanages. For the rest of the 1990s,
Russian children became one of the most popular adoption choices for American
parents; these children had the “right” race and could be “saved”. In 2005, news started
to surface that adopted Russian children had been murdered in the U.S. by American
adoptive parents. The Russian government responded to this news by placing a
moratorium on all foreign adoptions. American adoption practices have, in many ways,
hurt the pride of Russians. The perceptions Americans have of Russia as a “third world”
country, and the perceptions Russians have of Americans as “greedy Westerners”,
influenced the dynamics of this intercountry adoption relationship over the course of
fifteen years. In 2007 the ban was lifted, but the relationship had changed significantly
due to the shifting priorities of American adoptive parents and the dynamics of U.S.-
Russian international relations.
Thesis (M.A.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2008
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