Ethics Hero: Judge Edward J. McCarthy

What this issue need is sunlight...

What this issue needs is sunlight…

As a parent of a former Russian orphan, I have been disturbed by the deterioration of the international adoption environment there and elsewhere. We have a son who was healthy from the start, and our adoption process, while chaotic (we were rushing against a deadline, as the Russian government was in the process of blocking all American adoptions), was handled openly and legally. Now my wife and I read about true horror stories involving abused children, cruel parents, and unscrupulous agencies and brokers here and in Russia. Except for the very worst cases, most of these never crack though the relative trivia on cable news.

In New York, a court has been ordered by a New York Judge, Edward J. McCarthy, to open proceedings about one such horror story. Adoption proceedings are always closed to the public and press, put the judge has ruled that these proceeding must be open, because…

First, the court’s determination with regard to the allegations of fraud will be of significant concern to Russian children being offered for adoption. This court will take judicial notice of the fact that the 2013 prohibition on Russian/American adoptions by Russia has not ended the Russian/American adoption trade.

Second, the psychological well-being and the mental health of children that have been or may be adopted from the Russian Federation will be of great public concern for any person who has adopted or may be considering an adoption.

Third, the public will have humanitarian concerns over how children are being treated in Russia, and what developmental disabilities are resulting from their treatment.

Fourth, this case will be of great public concern to all families considering adoption through the services rendered by Spence-Chapin and the Cradle of Hope. The outcome of this case will have rippling implications on related subject matter throughout the United States and Russia.

Among the concerns that brought him to this important variance from tradition, procedure and practice…

1.In the past 30 years, 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans;

2.The estimated payments to private and public Russian sources have been estimated to be 1/3 of a billion dollars;

3.Russia is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption. This convention guarantees certain rights to adoptive children and the process of adoption;

4.An estimated 20 percent of Russian children adopted in the United States suffer from developmental disabilities from severe to mild;

5.Since 2001, over 18 adopted Russian children have died through violence of their adoptive parents or supervisors. Seventy-five percent of these children were in the United States for less than 6 months and under the age of two years;

6.In 2013, Russian President Putin publicly stopped the Russian-American adoption trade yet Russian children can still be obtained in the worldwide adoption market through other Eastern European adoption agencies;

7.Adopted Russian children have been returned to Russia without American due process.

 The parent’s petition includes allegations of fraud in the inducement during the course of the adoption petition process by American adoption agencies, allegations of “bait and switch” of children during the adoption process by American adoption agencies, and allegations of Russian organized criminal component in the Russian/American adoption process both in Russia and the United States.

If the news media does it job, the judge’s courageous and responsible decision to allow the proceeding to be public should shine much-needed light on a whole range of problems regarding Russian adoptions, both informing potential victims, prompting more effective oversight and regulation, and, one fervently hopes, preventing tragedies.


Pointer: Volokh Conspiracy

7 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Judge Edward J. McCarthy

  1. If you want to adopt a child, adopt an American kid or one from a British Commonwealth country that has some claim to repute. Another thing we can do is press for a cleanup in the states’ foster child and child protective agencies. Not one of them is up to par. As I’ve often said, a civilization can be ultimately judged by the regard in which it holds its children.

    • That’s a pretty ignorant blanket statement, Stephen. An innocent infant orphan in Russia has a life of hell to look forward to, and adopting such a child is a gift, a rescue and an adoption—who cares what the country represents? My wife and I were too old to adopt under US regulations, and we have friends who have adopted here only to have a previously invisible parent challenge the adoption in court, making the child a ping-pong ball. A Russian adoption means there is no way for a birth mother or father to track down the child they neglected, abused, or gave up. I’ll show you photos of Samara, the ruined hell-hole where my son would have been living on the streets about now, and then you can explain why we should have adopted in America.

      • Stephen does have a point. Our foster care system is a disgrace. The guiding purpose of foster care is to put the children in a holding pattern until the mother gets her act together and can reclaim them (a goal with a less than 10% success rate) or they turn 18 and can be dumped from the system. Care for the children doesn’t really enter into it. If these children were adopted, they could experience a relatively normal childhood with loving parents. Although many foster parents do their best to provide a good environment for these children, being bounced between 10+ families in your lifetime is not the same as being part of a family. Because we refuse to allow these children to be adopted, the foster care system is swamped. Because the foster care system is swamped, abused children are allowed to live in abuse because there is nowhere to put them.

        If his point is a country of people who eagerly seek to adopt neglected children from other countries while willfully allowing their own children to be neglected needs to get their priorities straight, then I agree.

        • 1. Our neighbors adopted a child from foster care. Then the father challenged the adoption to get money, and it took them over a year of litigation to keep a child that the father didn’t really want.
          2. Adoption is enough of a commitment without making parents risk that crap.
          3. The worst treated foster child in America has a brighter future than a child in a Russian orphanage in Samara, where native adoptions are rare, and most end up being warehoused in institutions until they are kicked out into the streets.
          4. The US needs to encourage adoption by protecting adoptive parents, and stop the practice of allowing parents who gave up their kids to be able to track them down later.

      • It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Russian kids, Jack. It’s the policies and attitudes of Russia itself. Given that plus the prevalence of American orphans, I’d say it’s best just to adopt from home or from a country that doesn’t play its orphans like political pawns. Beyond that, however, is the need to clean up our own house as far as children are concerned; parented or not.

    • Not looking for commendation, but thanks. By far the best thing I have ever done, or ever will do.

      And the 40 beautiful, sad-eyed two-year old Russian orphans I watched clutching their hand-me-down dolls in the shabby visiting room will haunt me for the rest of my life, because I couldn’t bring them home too. It makes me cry just remembering them…

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