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A Call to Action: Responding to Russia’s Kidnapping and Forced Relocation of Ukrainian Children

The Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA), the Center for Adoption Policy (CAP), and National Council For Adoption (NCFA) call on the United States government and the international community to continue their efforts on behalf of the estimated 6,000 Ukrainian children who have been forcibly removed from Ukraine and taken to Russia where they have been placed in holding camps or given to families, in violation of international human rights treaties and standards.

While these actions have been labeled as “adoption,” that is not correct. The term “adoption” should not be used to refer to kidnapping and forced population transfers of children from their country of origin. What is happening to Ukrainian children could not be farther from the adoption relationships that are legally formed in an honest, transparent, and ethical manner. We call upon members of the media to avoid using the term “adoption” and instead, describe Russian depredations as the criminal activity that they are.

As Vice President Kamala Harris stated on February 18, “we have examined the evidence, we know the legal standards, and there is no doubt: These are crimes against humanity.”

Russia has copied the Nazi Lebensborn program, where foreign children, including from Ukraine, were taken from their birth families and given to German families, often with SS connections, to raise as their own. The Nazi actions were rightly condemned after the Second World War; the Russian actions must be similarly condemned.

As adoption policy stakeholders and members of the adoption community, we understand the importance of child protection. The Russian actions have violated Russian national and international norms. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, children “are entitled to special care and assistance.” The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Russia is also a signatory, mandates that “States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.”

We urge Congress to pass a resolution condemning these Russian actions and for the United Nations to immediately address this issue.