13 Russian Kids Reunited with Families Blocked by Anti-LGBT Adoption Laws

By Mitch Kellaway

Originally published on Advocate.com August 30 2014 8:17 AM ET

When, last July, Russia banned international adoptions to all countries that offer equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, countless adoptive children were left in limbo.

This week, Swedish families have seen a happy resolution, reports The Local, with 13 Russian children who have been waiting since October finally united with their adoptive parents.

The narrowed options for Russian children who could benefit from adoption — a group which, according to the Associated Press, includes at least 600,000 youth — is just one of the many negative outcomes of Russian President Vladimir Putin's vague, broad-reaching law that began banning "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors" in June 2013.

In response to the bill, and several others that criminalized homosexuality and pro-LGBT speech, The New York Times reported that many families with LGBT members immediately began planning to flee Russia. But children without parental custody had no such recourse.

In an October 2013 interview with Sweden's Sveriges TV, Russian politician Vitaly Milonov summarized his government's stance on the situation, arguing that children would be better off remaining in Russian orphanages than being exposed to gay people.

"Homosexuals are 'perverts' and should absolutely not be allowed to adopt children," he stated. "Children who grow up in that kind of environment are destroyed psychologically."

With this sentiment still extended to any country the supports same-sex parents through equal marriage protections, this week's victory is bittersweet to advocates. Staff at Sweden's Adoptionscentrum, whose tireless efforts brought closure to the 13 families, cannot yet foresee more happy endings.

The agency's board chairman, Jonas Friberg, recently explained to The Local that Sweden will "certainly not" see any more Russian children adopted this year.

"We're going to be putting work with Russia on ice," he elaborated. "I won't say that we're closing down operations, but we're waiting to see what will happen in the future."

Contributor: 
Mitch Kellaway