RFE/RL Examines Russia’s Adoption Debate

Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson says of Max Shatto: "This kid's a Texas kid. He lived in Texas. He lived in my county. And my interest here is the death of that child and to find out what happened."

Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson says of Max Shatto: "This kid's a Texas kid. He lived in Texas. He lived in my county. And my interest here is the death of that child and to find out what happened."

The death last month of 3-year old adoptee Max Shatto, or Maksim Kuzmin as he is known in Russia, has again put international adoptions at the forefront of U.S.-Russian relations. RFE/RL’s original coverage on this issue — from the adoption ban Russia enacted at the end of 2012 to diplomatic measures in place today – has been timely, balanced and personal.

Correspondent Richard Solash visited the small town of Gardendale, Texas, home of the Shatto family to cover developments there. While much remains a mystery about little Max’s death, local officials now say a medical ruling on the boy’s death is imminent, as details about the day the child died, as well as accounts of his adoptive mother, begin trickling in.

The child’s death has caused a firestorm in Russia, and RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson covered that side of the story. Coalson found that Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, has been busy looking for evidence of crimes against Russian adoptees.

RFE/RL also took a look at Andrei Razin, perhaps Russia’s “most famous orphan.” The man who brought Russia the boy band Laskovy Mai (Tender May), has joined the political fray with the ruling United Russia Party. He is seemingly there for one reason: to advocate for Russia’s hundreds of thousands of orphans.

To put the debate into context, RFE/RL reported on statistics surrounding the adoption debate, which show that U.S. adoptions from abroad are in decline, but that generally speaking, adoptive parents rarely abuse the children they take in.

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