The Unexposed Ethics Outrage On The Edges Of The Trump Jr. Meeting Controversy

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act  allows the U.S. President to impose visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights abusers who kill, torture or violate the rights of human rights defenders, as well as government officials responsible for acts of significant corruption. The law and its various amendments that expanded its reach are at the heart of the sanctions currently being enforced against Russia. It was this law, and Russian efforts to blunt its force, that apparently was the real reason that Donald Trump Jr. was induced to meet with an indefinite number of Russians, Russian-Americans, and various individuals “connected” to the Russian government, the list of which is currently expanding like the roster of women allegedly raped by Bill Cosby.

The news media doesn’t seem to feel the Magnitsky Act is anything the public needs to know, perhaps because Donnie Jr. didn’t know much about it, if anything. The stories about his aborted meeting typically mention the Act briefly and without elaboration. They really don’t elaborate on Putin’s retaliation for the Act, which was to stop U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans. (I wrote about this indefensible conduct by Russia at the time, in 2012. The post had a grand total of eight comments. Five years was too long to wait for an update, and I’m sorry. Of course, we are supposed to have responsible and competent professional journalists to keep us informed. )Russia had been one of the primary sources of foreign adoptions by childless U.S. parents before 2012, when the Russian strong man retaliated against loving U.S. parents to show his annoyance with our government and his support of corruption at home.

It’s worse than that, though. The real victims of Putin’s retaliation are his nation’s own, innocent, most vulnerable children. There is virtually no domestic adoption in Russia, because parents can’t afford the children the have. There are lots of orphans though, because parents can give up infants they can’t care for, and the government is quick to remove children it believes are abused or neglected. Unfortunately, once these children are warehoused, there is no way out. The orphanages are underfunded and over-crowded. Once the children “age out,” they are sent to live in hospitals, clinics and other Russian institutions ill-equipped to care for them, and eventually dumped out into the street, where they often are abused or turn to crime.

The situation is cruel and heartbreaking. My wife and I adopted our wonderful son in 1995 right before another adoption halt, that one based on a backlash against foreign adoption as an embarrassment to national pride. We saw the orphanages in person, and the beautiful, unwanted children clutching their shabby dolls and stuffed animals. The heroic and frustrated Russian operating the orphanages told us that most would never be adopted. As I have related here before, it took every bit of resolve I could muster not to bring home five, ten, twenty kids. I cut short one orphanage tour because I was crying.

I don’t think the average American citizen, and maybe not even U.S. journalists, realize that Putin’s retaliatory adoption ban is essentially an attack on Russian orphans, dooming them at the very outset of their lives to neglect and poverty. U.S. parents who can’t adopt in the U.S. for various reasons (that’s another ethics issue) will go to China, Vietnam, the nation of Georgia, or South America to find an orphan. Russia’s orphans have no options. Putin is using his nation’s homeless and unwanted children as hostages. Now you know.

It would be nice, don’t you think, if the news media in this country told that story? There’s even an opportunity to give it an anti-Trump spin. Why has the President said anything favorable about a leader who uses orphans as bargaining chips?

My guess is that he doesn’t understand the Russian adoption situation either. Any bets? Has Fox News ever covered it?

28 thoughts on “The Unexposed Ethics Outrage On The Edges Of The Trump Jr. Meeting Controversy

  1. This is so sad. I’ve noticed over the years in even my small local experience that children and animals are the last consideration in every decision involving “committee” type decisions. They are, however, the first excuse. When I hear “It’s for the children” I know the children have either not been considered at all, or the children are being used.

    • Wyogranny….very true. However, from what I have seen, I think animals have a much bigger lobby to protect them than children.

  2. Winston Churchill: Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

    Currently reading “The Brothers Karamozov.” Have read “The Idiot.” What a people.

    • I read Crime and Punishment. I decided the other Russian novels will have to wait. I don’t understand that way of thinking and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to.

  3. I knew nothing of it from news. Just from friends who supported and tried to get kids adopted.


    Thank you for this post. Sure if wasn’t easy to write.

  4. Russian orphanages are as bad as Romanian ones were around the time Ceuchescu was overthrown and executed. I have a friend who adopted two orphans from Kazakstan which was formally part of the Soviet Union. Given their previous circumstances they have turned out reasonably well although the girl has some major attachment issues. Putin is an sociopath who Trump would be wise to take a harder line regarding this issue.

  5. Just dropping in quickly (about to have first child!) to say THANK YOU for this. This is getting shared on Facebook. I know 3 very special U.S. teens adopted from Russia, and two of them (a brother and sister) actually lived on the streets for a while, taking care of themselves, as very small children.

    When I first heard about the adoption ban, it was such an outrageous, self-damaging display of foolish pride on the part of Russia that I thought it would dominate the news cycle at the time. It didn’t. The Russian government used a couple of (admittedly horrible) instances of abuse to try to paint America as cruel and barbaric in order to justify screwing over thousands of their own kids. (It’s the same kind of national inferiority complex that led Muslim “feminist” Linda Sarsour to boast that Saudi Arabia is a better place for women than Western nations because they get longer maternity leave.)

  6. I just started following your posts a while back so I did not see your previous one covering this issue. They say ignorance is bliss but information is farr better because it opens our eyes and sometimes our hearts. How sad these children meant so little to Trump Jr. that he walked out of a meeting concerning them. I thought he was all about children and was devastated when he shut his charity for St. Jude. They disappointed all you named in this post.

    • Oh, I am 1) almost certain that Trump Jr. knows very little about Russian adoptions, and 2) even more certain that a world leaders who says, “Do this or I’ll harm our children!” has to be defied. It’s like Saddam using his own people as human shields.

      Actually, I was surprised Obama didn’t capitulate to the extortion.

  7. Jack — Orphanages are awful in many (most) places in the world. The lack of comments isn’t due to lack of awareness.

    Not to mention that there are about 700,000 kids in the US in foster care — and that number is growing rapidly due to the opiod epidemic.

    I really, really want to adopt a kid out of the system, but my husband is not on board. He wants us to focus all our resources (mental and fiscal) on our two daughters.

    • “He wants us to focus all our resources (mental and fiscal) on our two daughters.”

      Valid concerns. Though less so on the fiscal side.

      Other than thse most abjectly incapable of providing *base needs* for potential children, the advice I always found pretty solid was this: “If you wait until you are financially comfortable with children, you will never have children.”

      (Which is a side topic to your mention of adoption after having an average sized family, but seemed like an OK spot to make the plug)

    • We teach Sunday School and have encountered a few families who adopt and I am on the verge of being convinced that there is an ethical obligation* for Families who *mentally* CAN adopt that they must adopt up to the limit of their mental ability & resiliency.

      Our burden now that come to that realization is that I don’t think we are *mentally* able to handle another kid…we have 3 already, a 12 year old, a 4 year old and a 2 year old. We may be able to handle it more easily in 6-10 years when the 12 year old is a functioning adult and the 2 and 4 year old are far more self-sufficient within the home.

      *I only say obligation as it comes from a Christian set of premises. I don’t think I can say obligation from a secular set of premises, but it would be exception ethics from that angle.

      • I am not religious, and I feel that I have an obligation to adopt. I have room in my heart and my house. Realistically, one more child does convert our private schools to public schools, and our college funds into something else — we just cannot provide the same standard of living to three kid and are barely managing for two. But I am okay with that. My husband isn’t. Our youngest also has some issues — not to the extent that it will hold in her back in life, but she does require a lot of extra attention at home and school. I don’t think it would be fair to her, and it certainly wouldn’t be fair to our oldest who already draws the short straw (because she is perfect academically, socially, physically, etc.) if we brought in a third child who most certainly would require more attention than our other two combined. The families where I’ve seen this work well is where the mom stays home. Since I work full-time, this would not be an easy adjustment and one that could be a marriage-ender as well. So, no third kid for me.

        If we did adopt, I would want a child between 5 and 10. And I would adopt from the foster system. I think kids all over the world deserve a loving home, but I would feel a sense of duty to rescue a kid close to home.

  8. The Torry Hansen debacle got a lot of coverage when she sent her young adopted son back to Russia with a note pinned on him saying she could no longer parent the child. I thought this was the watershed event which made American’s trying to adopt from Russia much harder. Thanks for this story, Jack. I’m a little less ignorant now.

  9. Thanks for this piece, Jack. I was totally ignorant on the subject. Putin is now on my deep-shit list and I’m going to push it for all it’s worth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.