Thursday, January 17, 2013

Let's do the math on Russian adoption

I haven't posted about Russian adoption in a while but I've been thinking about it daily, and following all the news. A couple of things have me wondering, so I'm going to do the math.

Let me say up front that most of the numbers I'll be using are widely documented and easy to check on Google, so I'm not going to cite them unless I think I'm using something hard to document or controversial.

We keep hearing that nineteen Russian children have died after being adopted and taken home to America. I wondered how that stacked up to the general population. Fortunately, published this article, which explains that those 19 deaths add up to about 1.5 deaths per hundred thousand children per year, whereas the national average is 2.2 deaths per hundred thousand children per year. So the death rate for children adopted from Russia is lower than the expected rate.

Also, I've been hearing Pavel Astakhov, the Children's Ombudsman, quote a variety of numbers. First he said there were 46 adoptions in process in Russia, then 52, and now 150.

I should say that I feel progress has been made. Today, Astakhov said that families who have been through court already will be allowed to take their children home when their 30-day waiting periods end. And he's talking about families in all stages of adoption, and says he's getting reports from around the country to find out how many children there are in process. This makes much more sense than his original number of 46. After all, there are 87 regions in Russia. It's a big country. And most of the adoption records are kept by hand, so it would take a while to get the numbers. It's plausible.

But I'm wondering if 150 is close to the right number. So here comes the math:

There were 906 children adopted from Russia to the US last year. Assuming that number is fairly consistent, then that means


So about 75 children per month were adopted from Russia last year. (I'm choosing to round down so as to give Astakhov the benefit of the doubt wherever possible.)

It takes at a minimum, 2 months from the time of referral to the time a child comes home. The referral happens on the first trip, then it's about a month until court and then the 30 day waiting period. So

75 children per month x 2 months = 150

It sounds like Pavel's math is checking out. He also mentioned another dozen or so families who had submitted applications but not yet received referrals.

I like the sound of this. It seems like Russia is actually thinking this process through, instead of slamming the door like they were in December. So hopefully my friend and the rest of the people waiting for children to come home will be able to bring their children home soon.

Now, there are in reality probably more than 150 people waiting, because some regions of Russia can take much longer than two months to complete an adoption, but I would estimate (with my limited knowledge) that the actual number is somewhere between 150 and 200. But I'm glad that Russia's estimates are now in the right ballpark.

Of course, the next step is to repeal this law so that international adoptions of Russian children can continue until they are no longer needed. But at least this first step seems to be in the right direction.

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