Russian Adoption: Justice for Max and Kristopher

RUSSIAN ADOPTION: JUSTICE FOR MAX AND KRISTOPHER - A black mark has once again fallen on the U.S. with the recent death of 3 year old Max Shatto, a Russian boy who was adopted just five months ago, along with his brother Kristopher, by a family in Texas.

This tragedy is still under investigation and is complicated with charges of alleged abuse. Despite questions surrounding the death of young Max, Kristopher continues to live with the family. How could something like this happen?

Max and Kristopher Shatto, previously known as Maksim and Kirill Kuzmin

Max and Kristopher Shatto

The situation and how it is being handled both saddens and angers me. Both countries are looking for answers that clear them of any responsibility, while it seems neither of them cares about justice being found and served.

With a ban currently in place against any American adoption of a Russian child, this would be a good time for Russia to review and update their adoption procedures.

Apparently, there are adoptions that are allowed to proceed simply for the money the country receives without any concern for the welfare of the child. I am speaking directly about another adoption currently under investigation,that took place in 2007 by a lesbian couple.

Russian children's rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov, speaking at a news conference in Moscow in 2010.

Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov

According to the Family Code of the Russian Federation, homosexuals are forbidden from adopting, and yet this woman was successful in hiding the fact she was in a lesbian relationship from the authorities. Perhaps a more thorough background check would have brought the situation to the forefront and this child would not be caught in the controversy that he finds himself in today.

What of the American response?

US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul (May 2010)

Michael McFaul-U.S. Ambassador to Moscow

Until further investigations and the autopsy results are released very little is being said and truthfully that concerns me. I realize that politically this is a touchy subject and no one want to get their facts wrong, but at the same time I would like to hear from neighbors, the extended family, the church, or anyone who knows the family to speak up and be heard.

There have been allegations of physical and possible drug abuse towards Max that would put his younger brother at risk by staying in the home. If nothing else, he should be removed until the family is found clear of any wrong doing.

“Innocent until proven guilty” is the mantra of the U.S. when it comes to legal matters and although it is appropriate and just in most cases when the life of another is in possible jeopardy, it doesn’t seem fair or right.

When I think of little Kristopher, my heart breaks. At just two years of age he has been taken from his mother, brought to a new country with new parents, and now has lost his only brother. To know that he was playing outside with his brother when he brother died adds to my anger and grief over the situation.

Russia is now considering fighting to have Kristopher brought back to his homeland even though his mother is still struggling with alcohol addiction and an unstable life.

If returned to Russia, Kristopher will surely be put back into their foster program and have an uncertain future. Here in the U.S. much depends on the outcome of the investigation and those results will affect the remainder of his life.   There is also talk of a ban on any foreign adoptions of Russian children.

It will be another week before there are any findings and then as they sift through all the evidence we will only be allowed to scrutinize what they release, but I would hope it would be found that this was an unfortunate incident and that there was nothing that precipitated this boy’s early death.

However, if there is evidence of any wrongdoing that the Shatto family would be punished to the fullest extent of the law and that Kristopher would be removed from their care immediately.

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