Yes, it’s this guy:
It’s tough being part of America’s “child welfare” establishment these days. Americans are catching on to the harm done by a massive child welfare surveillance state that falsely equates child removal with child safety, and investigates the homes of more than half of all Black children. They’re noticing the massive confusion of poverty with neglect – and not buying the excuses for it. They have seen the racism that permeates every corner of the system. And they’re not buying the excuses for that, either.
But cheer up, take-the-child-and-run advocates! There is one prominent world leader, and a top aide, who understand: Vladimir Putin and his “Commissioner for Children’s Rights” Maria Lvova-Belova have your backs! They’ve embraced what for decades has been considered best practice in American child welfare.
I learned about the remarkable similarity in outlook after reading stories from NPR and The New York Times about Ukrainian mothers who have made a harrowing 3,000-mile journey to bring home children taken from them as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Some of the children were taken by force. In other cases, the frontlines shifted. Mothers in Ukranian territory occupied by Russia sent their children to summer camps in Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea. But when Ukraine took back the territory they were cut off, and Russia refused to send the children home. As NPR explains: “Kyiv now accuses Russia of using a system of summer camps and foster homes to indoctrinate and steal Ukrainian children.”
But that’s just so unfair. Russia’s rationale sounds remarkably like the reasons the American family policing system regularly invokes to take poor children, especially poor children of color. For instance:
Kostya, age 14, wound up with Russian foster parents. They didn’t hold him by force; instead here’s how they tried to persuade him to stay:
They said when I'm 18, I'll get 30,000 rubles a month - you know, the good life. And if I return to Ukraine, I won't get anything.
Well, of course! Just last month, one of America’s most prominent advocates of a take-the-child-and-run approach to “child welfare” said pretty much the same thing. In a publication for the American Enterprise Institute, here’s how Prof. Sarah Font explained why, for older foster youth, even aging out of the system with no home at all can be better than reunification with a parent, or even guardianship with a relative. Wrote Font:
Although permanency is important for older youth as well, the implications are less clear given that reunification or guardianship or living with relatives … may deprive older youth of additional resources that are conditional on aging out.
Or consider the Russian official who said this to a mother from the Ukrainian town of Vovchansk trying to get her children back. As the mother recalls:
He said, why are you in such a hurry? We know that Vovchansk has no gas or water. Why do you want to return the kids to such conditions?
Here in the United States, 30% of foster children could be
home right now if their families just
had decent housing. Keeping children
from parents because of no gas or water, or for even less reason, is just
standard operating procedure.
The parallels don’t end there. According to the Times:
The children were told that if their parents did not collect them by this month, six months after their arrival, they would be sent to foster homes or put up for adoption.
Of course! America’s child welfare establishment says it’s just best practice to tear apart families forever if the parents don’t meet timelines! After all, the children need permanency!
Perhaps the Russians simply got hold of a copy of America’s Adoption and Safe Families Act and decided to push it just a little further – as California does. ASFA says family police agencies must seek termination of children’s rights to their parents after 15 months but encourages states to make the time even shorter. For the youngest children in California, the law says to seek termination of parental rights after six months.
It’s not hard to guess what comes next. When Ukraine finally wins and Russia is pushed back, the Russians will adopt another American best practice and declare they won’t return the children because they’ve “bonded” with their foster parents. After all, they don’t call Maria Lvova- Belova Commissioner for Children’s Rights for nothing!
Of course, not everyone gets it. The woke mob at the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova, claiming their approach to child welfare constitutes a war crime. But they have nothing to worry about. In the extremely unlikely event that they’re ever brought to justice, the Russians have the perfect defense. They can just explain that they were acting “В интересах ребенка” – in the best interests of the child.