It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about Artyem, the 7-year-old boy whose adoptive mother took him back to customer service like some kind of irregularly knit sweater. The scandal around the boy’s unceremonious return — and let me be clear, it was pretty outrageous — seems to have calmed down.
But, as the two sides negotiate whether Americans can ever adopt Russian children again, it’s worth considering some other factors, like why so many Russian orphans — many of whom still have living parents — are up for adoption to begin with.
A news report today reveals, for example, that, at nearly 700,000, there are more orphans in Russia today than there were during World War II, when, let’s recall, over 20 million Russians died. And, in the last year, over 30,000 Russian children have been returned to orphanages by their Russian adoptive parents. Usually, it is because there is very little support for families who take in these children, but often it is because the money the state awards them for taking someone in has run out.
And, lest we forget, there’s the story of 12 year-old Denis Khokhryakov. He is the bizarro Artyem, and was lost in the hooplah of Adoptiongate. Around the time the American and Russian state departments were trading parries, Khokhryakov — aka Diego Sologub — was discovered in an orphanage in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. He had been adopted by fellow Russians in November 2003. In July 2004, less than a year later, his adoptive parents had abandoned him in the DR, having traded him in for some cocaine.