Florida justice denied Russian diplomats a meeting with adopted Russian boy, Maxim Babaev, 6, who was abused by his American adoptive parents, despite US-Russian new agreement on adoption.
Sergey Chumarev, Senior Legal Councillor of the Russian Embassy in the U.S., who tried to get consular access to Maxim, a bearer of Russian passport, told the Voice of Russia about the new details of this case. In the most shocking part, Mr. Chumarev refers to sheriff's report about sexual abuse of the child that was disregarded by a local judge, as well as to police report saying the adoptive father hit his head against the wall and his U.S. mother tried to suffocate him.
The Russian diplomat also cites other examples when state or county authorities in various locations across the United States refused to fulfill US-Russian adoption agreement and prevent Russia to monitor cases of abuse of Russian kids in America.
This story emerges on the backdrop of heated debate around U.S. adoption ban that was voted by the Russian Duma past Friday.
Please tell us about your trip to Florida and how you met those adopted Russians who were reportedly abused?
I have just returned from Florida, that was a short to Brevard County. I had an opportunity to talk to five different officers there trying to get access to Russian national minor whose name is Maxim Babayev who was adopted here and given a name Maxim Tailor.
How old is he?
He is six years old. We contacted the office of the State Attorney General, Brevard County sheriff’s office, records department and the clerk of the local court. And what we got was a very cautious and at the same time very strange response to our requests. First, we could not meet with the boy, though he is a Russian national and he is apparently in need of consular and diplomatic protection.
Second, we got some public records but they are heavily reducted. Basically, what we could obtain as the background information for this case is the sheriff’s arrest report, charges against both adoptive parents and the judgment. And out of that we already can indicate very serious issues with respect to the quality of treatment of this case. And if you allow me, I would single out one very important issue.
Both parents, we believe that they deserve a much severe punishment. For the adoptive father it was five year probation and for the mother one year probation, though as we can judge from the public records available to us they really were striking and hitting him at the wall and squeezing neck of this boy with hands…
And that was made on public, you’ve mentioned, right?
Most probably it was not a single incident because the doctor who actually examined the boy immediately after arrest, he testified that there were numerous injuries on the body and some bruises on the back side of his head. So, the injuries were really serious and the boy was immediately separated from this family. As we also managed to learn is that right now he stays with the foster family and receives medical and psychological assistance.
But the main reason and the main purpose of our visit was not achieved because prior to this visit the local judge twice rejected our motion as for the consular access to this boy. And basically he disagreed with the statement of the State Department that in such cases where a child is a victim of severe maltreatment, a visit of consular representatives from his country of origin is in the best interests of this child. And the judge decided to follow only Florida rules and local laws and regulations. He also stated that he does not know basically about the consular bilateral convention and the recent agreement on cooperation in international adoption between Russia and the US, and he is not obliged to implement those treaties.
That is a structural issue for us since this case shows that the US authorities cannot assure implementation of international obligations in every part of the US territory. And since it concerns the Russian national and the minor – it means that we have to find new means to tackle this issue. And probably the most appropriate would be a joined visit by the Guardian Ad Litem, social protection services and other representatives in a joined cooperative effort to finally identify the boy, to assist him with the documentation because apparently his Russian passport has been lost or even destroyed by adoptive parents, which is a common practice unfortunately.
And what was the reason for the judge, did he explain why he is not allowing you to visit the boy?
He had a ten minute oral ruling and that was quite large in terms of words but in substance though that was quite poor because his idea was that he is not convinced that the visit of consular officials would serve the best interests of the child, as he sees it. That’s it. On his way to this conclusion he rejected our arguments, he rejected the arguments presented by the State Department and also informed that he is not in a position to apply international treaties in this particular case, he does not need it.
Does the Embassy want to go further and ask for further assistance from the State Department in this dialog with the Florida authorities?
Yes, we will continue dealing with this case, specifically on a very important issue that has been overlooked by the American court. We’ve managed to find out that there were also some charges that were disregarded and in the judgment we can read that the state in consideration on this plea agrees not to file sex-related charges against the defendant.
So, you mean the sexual abuse. And you said that it was mentioned in the sheriff’s report, right?
Exactly! And this sheriff’s report was kind of disregarded by the judge, by the office of the prosecute, the attorneys office and it means that this particular case needs to be further investigated, and if necessary, new charges should be brought against these adoptive parents. Otherwise, we feel that it is yet another case when American courts just did not serve the best interests of the child and actually whitewashed horrendous actions by adoptive parents. We will continue working with the State Department and local authorities. And we hope that in accordance with the Florida law, international obligations and federal law of the US we will finally find the real solution for the best interests of the child.
Alright, let me leave it with that. Thank you very much. We were talking with Sergey Chumarov who is the Russian diplomat and he is working with the Russian Embassy in charge of relations with the adopted Russian children.
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