After being brutally beaten by his American adoptive mother, who gave him psychotropic medication for an extended period of time, a 3-year-old Russian boy named Maksim has died in Texas, Russian diplomats have said.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a probe into the death of Maksim Kuzmin at the hands of his adoptive American family.
The boy died before medics, called by his adoptive mother, arrived at the scene. An autopsy showed that he suffered multiple injuries to his head, limb, abdomen and internal organs prior to death.
The investigation revealed that Maksim was beaten by his adoptive mother, who had also fed him strong psychotropic medication. The boy was given Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug mainly used for short-term treatment of schizophrenia and bilateral disorders and approved for prescription in the US with the starting age of 10.
The US State Department did not comment on the boy’s death, which reportedly happened on January 21. Nevertheless, the incident became known to the Russian Embassy in the US.
Russian Children’s Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov has asked the Russian Foreign Ministry to conduct an impartial investigation, and to keep Russia informed of all details concerning Maksim’s death.
Russian MFA Representative for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov said the US State Department failed to provide help to the Russian diplomats investigating Kuzmin’s death. In a Twitter post, Dolgov called the incident “yet another inhuman abuse of a Russian child adopted by an American family,” and said he was expecting “severe punishment for those found guilty in his death.”
Maksim’s death comes amid heightened Russia-US tensions, which center on children and human rights abuses. The boy’s death was less than a month after the ‘Dima Yakovlev Law’ banning US citizens from adopting Russian foster children came into force.
Although the two countries agreed in 2012 to form a joint task force to investigate crimes against adopted Russian children, Russian politicians and law enforcement have repeatedly said the US is reluctant to cooperate on the matter. They also noted that convicted American parents were given soft sentences for their cruel treatment, or even manslaughter, of Russian kids, which was said to be one of the grounds for the adoption ban bill.
There are currently tens of thousands of adopted Russian children living in the US – a worrying factor for Russian child protection advocates, in light of the erratic system that exists between the two countriesfor reporting these abuses. In one extreme case, Russia found out a child had been abused only five years after the fact.
The story of three-year-old Maksim is just one of the 20 recorded incidents of abuse of Russian children by American-host families. Author and lecturer Mirah Riben, who has written several books on the subject of adoption, stresses that once a child crosses over into foreign hands, there is virtually no difference between how its safety is ensured there and how safe the child would be back home. “Adopted children are no more protected here in the United States, no matter where they were adopted from… they are treated the same as having been born into that family, and there is no greater protection afforded an adopted child than there is any other child. So it’s only if abuse is reported – which is often after the case.”
While Riben believes that the recent Russian ban on adoptions is the correct move, she stresses that if any country really wants to treat the issue of child abuse back home and abroad, they should “try and resolve some of these socio-economic issues that create these tragedies… that create the need for these children to be separated from their families in the first place.”