Thursday, April 21, 2011

Power and the post-Soviet orphanage: stories of orphans in Kyrgyzstan

Power and the post-Soviet orphanage: stories of
orphans in Kyrgyzstan

While the country has been experiencing political transformation, more than 60 children
waiting for their parents in the U.S.
Erica Marat Monday, April 11, 2011

One of the orphanages in Bishkek
Pamela Allen always carries a photo album Bermet, year-old girl orphaned in Bishkek.
Allen knows her only from the descriptions of the U.S. Agency for International
Adoptions. Acquainted with her adopted daughter has not yet been.

"I first saw the photo Bermet in September 2008, she was 15 weeks, and threw her
parents - says Allen. - I thought I could take her home before she turns six months. "
However, while Pamela Allen designed the process of adoption Bermet, former Prime
Minister of Kyrgyzstan Igor Chudinov instructed to stop adoptions by foreigners. In early
2009, Kyrgyz authorities revealed evidence of criminal practice in children's homes - it is
assumed that some children were taken out of the country on forged documents.
Allen and 65 other American families who are waiting for their adoptive children from
Kyrgyzstan, seeking cancellation of the moratorium for more than two years. Their
efforts have not yielded results.

During this time, Allen adopted by a U.S. girl named Emerson. "From beginning to end
adoption process took five months - she said. - I learned that her biological family chose
me as a foster mother for two weeks before her birthday ... I was present at birth, I cut off
the umbilical cord. "

Today, Emerson goes to private nursery in the suburbs of Washington, where she taught
Russian language. "The first day in nursery Emerson ate meatballs - Russian nurse
explained to me that this is a traditional food," - says Allen. She is already seeing tangible
difference in the development of two girls: Bermet started walking only in 2,5 years.
Emerson - when she was one year old.

When Allen first showed pictures Bermet, she noticed that the girl's thin limbs and
swollen abdomen - symptoms of malnutrition. "We Bermet very high forehead and head,
apparently from her health issues" - says she is.

Allen chose Kyrgyzstan by chance - in 2006, her sister adopted a boy from Kazakhstan,
and she was a witness of the process. "My heart was broken when I saw the children in
the orphanage," - says Allen.

During the stay of the disease died two kid, and not waiting for their American parents.
The exact causes of death in these children is unknown. Foster mother of one of them - a
pediatrician from Florida - the photographs determined that the child may have infected
with syphilis. She tried to convince workers of children's homes to conduct medical
check-up, but - in vain ...

Mutual misunderstanding

For two years, adoptive families from the United States trying to meet with all sorts of
politicians from Kyrgyzstan who come to visit Washington. Their main goal - to bring
the adoption process to the end.

"When Chudinov was in Washington, DC (September 2009 - EM), I asked him to reverse
his decision. He said he would consider the matter "- says Pamela Allen. She is
particularly remembered for soft warm hands and the officials; he said nice, soothing

However, after a visit to the U.S. Igor Chudinov the issue of lifting the moratorium has
not publicly raised.

Allen also talks about his meeting with deputies of the Kyrgyz Republic: "There were
meetings where we talked about their histories of women deputies. We cry together,
sympathized with each other, they promised us to provide all possible assistance. "
Since the introduction of a moratorium in Kyrgyzstan has changed the government and
the constitution, the country erupted in ethnic conflict. Today, the location Chudinov and
other members of the overthrown corrupt government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev
is unknown. Came to power, the Parliament, whose primary task - the distribution of
rights and obligations between the rival factions.

The U.S. State Department is supporting the foster families in their attempts to persuade
the Kyrgyz authorities to allow them to bring the adoption process to the end. In response
to a request from the government of Kyrgyzstan has signed a memorandum of
understanding for Adoption (MOU), the State Department's special representative on
children Susan Jacobs visited Bishkek in September 2010 and February this year. She
presented a memorandum to the authorities, promising that the U.S. will closely monitor
the foster children of Kyrgyzstan after their arrival in the U.S.. However, the Kyrgyz
government on several occasions required to make further amendments to the text.
"The problem is that the Kyrgyz government requires a bilateral treaty with the United
States, but the U.S. did not enter into agreements of this kind. In return, the parties agreed
to sign the MOU, "- says Lisa Brozerton from California, which is also awaiting a foster
child from Kyrgyzstan. Brozerton closely monitoring the situation around the
moratorium, and frequently visits Bishkek.

In March, members of the Committee on Health, Social Policy, Labour and Migration of
the Kyrgyz parliament explained to the American Charitable Foundation for Adoption
"Saint Philomena" as follows: to cancel the moratorium should be in parliament to
approve a new draft of the Family Code and to obtain approval of the government (prime
minister and deputy prime minister).

"There are some positive changes - last week the parliament began to examine the Family
Code on first reading," - said Broz
erton. She hopes that the second and third reading will
be appointed in the near future.

The game of ping-pong
Few politicians in Kyrgyzstan knows that after two years of a child from an orphanage in
the former Soviet Union the United States is considered invalid. "In such cases, the
adoptive parents have to" catch up "child development", - told VOA Tom DiFilipo,
chairman of the Joint Council of the International Save the Children, who studied the
condition of children raised in orphanages post-Soviet countries.

This applies to nutrition, physical and mental development, the expert continues: "Almost
all children suffer from malnutrition, disease and mental disorders." According to him,
two of the dead child at the time of the moratorium - the ones who caught the attention of
adoptive parents. It is unknown how many children among those who have not been

Pamela Allen and President Otunbayeva
During the recent visit of President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbayeva in Washington
Pamela Allen showed her pictures Bermet and asked if the president issued a decree to
cancel the moratorium. In response, Otunbayeva said she knew about the 65 families and
understands their situation, but lift the moratorium, unfortunately, not in her power. Much
depends on the parliament and government.

"It reminds me of a game of ping-pong, which loses only children - says Allen. -
Someone in Kyrgyzstan must finally decide on a heroic act and take responsibility for
these children. "

"Cultivating bodies and nationalism
Meanwhile, speculation about what is exported from Kyrgyzstan children are used as
donors of internal organs - one of the main arguments of some opponents of international
adoption in Kyrgyzstan.

"You hear a lot of stories about how to foster children being abused, humiliated, and even
killed. I am not in favor of the adoption of children by foreigners "- the words quoted
Kyrgyz MP Tursunbai Bakir uulu edition Eurasia Insight.

"While the myth that U.S. children are used to nurture bodies, so popular in Russia,
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, we were not able to identify the source of this information" -
says Lisa Brozerton results of his research.

Tom DiFilipo results statistics on adoption of children from Russia by American families
over the past 15 years: from 50,000 adopted children as a result of domestic violence
killed 14.

"Undoubtedly, this is a sad figure, and unfortunately, despite all the thoroughness with
which the monitoring of foster families, the violence still takes place," - he said. Such
statistics in the post-Soviet countries do not.

"Violence against children - a fact of life" - continues DiFilipo. However, he stressed that
the U.S. abuse of children in foster care is much rarer than in "normal" families. This is
because the adoption agency conducted a thorough screening of prospective adoptive
parents. And when you consider that the inspection of parents wishing to adopt children,
it is much harder in the U.S. than in the former Soviet Union, the chances of a child get
into the hostile environment is minimal.

"We checked thoroughly - our financial position, our character, our past" - lists Pamela
Allen. According to her, as foster parents even require to make an evacuation plan in case
of fire in the house. Clearly, this requirement does not extend to "ordinary" families.
Lisa Brozerton says that in 2009 the Kyrgyz authorities were frightened when it was
discovered that the fate of 13 children adopted by foreign families, are not known. When
Brozerton requested a list of "lost" children, she was given 11 names. "For three days, a
simple Internet search, I found the location of 9 of them" - she said. As it turned out,
some adopted children live in Kyrgyzstan in the families of foreigners working in the
country. Others were taken to Israel and Switzerland, where they live in high-grade

Another popular explanation for the refusal of international adoption is such an argument:
children born in Kyrgyzstan should be educated on the basis of local traditions and know
their native language.

With this view agrees DiFilipo. He notes that the main task of foster families - to create
for foreign children on Wednesday, as similar as possible with the customs of their
homeland. "Before the adoption, the parents undergo special training, where they explain
the local culture and environment of their adopted children" - he says.

After the adoption of a child adoptive families continue to visit clubs and online forums
where they socialize with other families with children from the same country. American
families who have adopted children from Kyrgyzstan, Russia and other countries have
maintained close contacts with each other. "I have many friends from Kyrgyzstan", - says
Pamela Allen.

Total U.S. annually adopt about 100,000 children. Of these, 20 to 30 thousand - children
from abroad.

Orphans and criminals
According to Tom DiFilipo, for all this time in Kyrgyzstan was not punished a single
person, because of whose action has been declared a moratorium. "None of the
perpetrators are not jailed. The children remain in institutions ", - says DiFilipo.
On the disastrous state of children's homes indicates a report prepared by the Open
Society Institute in cooperation with the NGO "Youth Human Rights Group." Of their
study showed that the Kyrgyz government has "an effective, transparent system of
governance institutions for children deprived of family environment."

For example, the Ministry of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan has provided
information on 50 institutions, while the National Statistical Committee - about 82
institutions, indicated in the report. However, summary data, all in Kyrgyzstan - 133
institutions where there are orphans.

"Children often suffer from hunger, as funds for their food or not enough, either they are
spent effectively, there is an acute shortage of feminine hygiene products, clothing and
footwear, often completely missing materials for development: children's books, toys.
Care agency staff often use various types of violence against inmates, "- said the report"
Youth Human Rights Group. "

Lack of love, family affection and stability in relations between workers and children's
homes - the main problem of any such institution, said Pamela Allen.
According to Lisa Brozerton, who previously worked in the social security system in the
U.S., even the first months of
are important to children: "Lying on the back without
motion and parental care in the first months of life, children can never make up for that
time in the future."

Another American family, which also awaits lifting the moratorium, compares the post-
Soviet orphanage with a "human warehouses". There's no love and care of loved ones, no
one will embrace and learn to laugh. On the education of children in the spirit of local
culture and traditions of speech there.

"In orphanages children are dying, if not physically, then mentally" - shares his
experience of studying children's homes in the post-Tom DiFilipo.

We will fight to the end
Some Kyrgyz question arises - how did the adoptive parents desire and patience to wait
for children? To this Allen says: "This is my daughter, she was given to me from above. I
need it. "

When Lisa first saw the little Brozerton Nargiza, she gave her a promise that will take
care of her whole life. "I do not find me rest until he fulfill his promise to the child" - her

As long as the moratorium remains in force, Brozerton intends to travel to Kyrgyzstan
and to assist not only his adopted daughter, but also to other children. "In our house there
is a place for her, she's part of our family" - she added.

"If the moratorium is not canceled, then I'll wait until Bermet turn 16 years old, and her
release from the orphanage. I will come to Bishkek and inviting her to his family "-
promises Pamela Allen.