Janibek, who arrived from Belgium in search of his biological mother, captured the hearts of the entire Kazakhstan last year. Social activists and journalist Kymbat Doszhan assisted the young man in his quest, keeping the public informed through her program about the progress of the case. Recently, Doszhan appeared as a guest on another program, where she explained why foreigners often adopt children from Kazakhstan rather than neighboring countries.
«Why have so many Kazakhs been adopted internationally? Because they are interested in origin and heritage. It’s crucial that Kazakh women leave children not due to harmful habits but because of socio-economic difficulties they face. For this reason, the child’s genes and DNA are considered pure, and the body is deemed healthy,» she stated on air.
However, this explanation did not convince many Kazakhs. Alternative viewpoints emerged in social media comments:
«Let’s not justify ourselves claiming we have supposedly pure blood,» «How would foreigners know about genes; it was just easier to arrange in our country,» «Don’t you think children are sold in our country?» «Don’t justify women who abandoned their children,» «They were only interested because it’s easy in Kazakhstan. In other countries, a single woman would never be allowed to adopt a child,» «When this baby’s mother left him, weren’t there other officials present? Surely they remember something,» «Foreigners don’t care about our blood,» criticize users.
Since Kazakhstan signed the Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, foreign citizens have adopted 158 children. Of these, 157 children went abroad from 2013 to 2019, and one child in the last four years. However, before the convention was signed, from 1999 to 2011, foreigners managed to adopt 8,805 children. As 5,217 of them reached adulthood, they have been removed from the list, and there is no information about them. Information exists about the remaining 3,588 underage children, but there are difficulties.
Among foreign adopters, many fail to submit reports. For instance, there is no information in Kazakhstan about 30 children taken to South Africa. The same applies to 104 children taken to the United States and 113 to Belgium. Their fates remain unknown.
Overall, the leading countries adopting children from Kazakhstan include the USA, Spain, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Belgium, and Ireland.
Another equally alarming fact is that Kazakhstan lacks information on how many children were taken abroad before 1999. All of this unfolds against the backdrop of heart-wrenching cases of abuse against Kazakhstani children that have reached the public eye. For instance, in 2004, the Mayott couple adopted and brought two children from Kazakhstan – a 13-year-old brother and an 8-year-old sister – to the American town of Whitinsville.
In 2013, the couple was convicted of maltreatment of their adopted children and sentenced to 16 and 22 years of imprisonment. Doesn’t this indicate that such cases could be happening everywhere?
Chances for the future?
The adoption procedure in domestic legislation is clearly outlined. Prospective adoptive parents must be physically and morally healthy, lead a socially acceptable lifestyle, have no harmful habits, and earn a decent living. If the characteristics of potential parents meet the adoption conditions, Kazakhs can become adoptive parents by court decision. After adoption, parents are required, in the first three years after the court decision comes into legal force, to submit reports every six months and, in subsequent years, at least once a year until the adopted child reaches eighteen. This applies to Kazakhstani adoptive parents.
As for foreigners, recent amendments in the law prohibit them from choosing children in orphanages based on desired parameters, as was allowed before. This change was made to protect children. Now, foreigners can adopt young Kazakhstani children but must be content with the child offered to them. Adoptive parents must submit reports through the diplomatic missions of the Republic of Kazakhstan in their home countries. However, as mentioned earlier, this doesn’t always work. Despite understanding all the risks, the Kazakhstani adoption system still favors its citizens, although it does not reject foreigners from distant lands. The argument is that if foreigners take children and provide them a chance for a bright future, it shouldn’t be denied. On the other hand, Kazakhs often complain that adopting a child in their homeland is not so simple.
The need will fade away
In 2014, Deputy Tursunbek Omurzakov shared interesting information. He spoke about the insufficient state support for the process of orphaned children finding families. At that time, guardians received only 18,000 tenge per month. Among potential adopters, there is also an opinion that the staff of orphanages themselves hinder the adoption of children. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Kazakhstan, 1,858 children lost the chance of adoption due to their actions. Allegedly, state institutions are not eager to release orphans because of per capita funding for children’s homes. Therefore, guardianship services try to prolong the adoption process as much as possible.
As reported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MON RK), the state spends 1.5 million tenge per year on the maintenance of one child in an orphanage. It is worth noting that the conditions for orphans do not always correspond to the funds allocated. Additional funds, available to unscrupulous supervisors, allow for the fabrication of diagnoses, which are selectively attributed to the residents of orphanages. If this corrupt practice is eradicated, it is possible that in Kazakhstan, there may no longer be a need to involve foreign citizens in adopting children, as they would already be placed with Kazakhstani families.