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Return our Boy
February 21, 2013 permalink
Russia is demanding the repatriation of a child adopted by an American family after the death of his brother in the same home. Laura and Alan Shatto of Odessa Texas adopted two Russian boys, Maxim Kuzmin and Kirill Kuzmin, renaming them Max Alan Shatto and Kristopher Shatto. Max died on January 21, though his case did not get into the news until last week. Russia says that the boy was placed on psychotropic drugs and died from abuse. The real mother who lost the boys because of a drinking problem is now cured and able to care for her remaining son. Other sources give the Russian family name as Kuzmenko. The Cyrillic name of the deceased boy is Максима Кузьмина.
Russia seeks return of adopted boy in US after brother's death
Russia's government insisted on the return of a two-year-old brother of a toddler who died after being adopted by US parents, threatening an international tug-of-love and diplomatic spat with Washington.
Pavel Astakhov, Russia's children's rights ombudsman, said that Kirill Kuzmin – known to his adoptive parents as Kristopher – must be removed from the family in Gardendale, Texas, and sent back to Russia.
Mr Astakhov announced earlier this week that Kirill's brother, Maxim, or Max Alan Shatto, three, had been killed by the two boys' adoptive US mother last month, who - he claimed - beat the child and pumped him full of anti-schizophrenia drugs.
The ombudsman has since backtracked and admitted the cause of the boy's death is not yet known, but the announcement triggered frenzy in Moscow where politicians rushed to condemn the United States for "assassinating another Russian child".
Mr Astakhov upped the ante on Wednesday, saying that he had received a letter from the biological mother of the two adopted Russian boys saying she wanted Kirill back "so that he didn't die like his brother".
The woman – who lost her children because of a drink problem - was also shown on a tabloid website with strong government links pleading for President Vladimir Putin to intervene. "I've changed my ways, I can't allow my second child to also perish," she said.
Russia would insist on the boy Kirill being returned to his homeland, Mr Astakhov said. "Whether it happens or not will depend on how persistent we are," he said. "He is a Russian citizen. Besides his relatives, there is already a whole queue of people wishing to adopt him."
Laura and Alan Shatto, the US couple who adopted the two Russian boys, have refused to comment on the case, which is still under investigation by state authorities in Texas.
Mr Putin approved a much-criticised ban on American parents adopting Russian children in December, citing the deaths of 19 adopted Russian children in the US in the last decade.
The law was a retaliatory response to US legislation passed the same month which prevents alleged human rights abusers from Russia receiving US visas.
Pro-Kremlin MPs said this week that the death of Max Alan Shatto in Texas showed the adoption ban was necessary.
Police and child protection workers in Texas have said that allegations of abuse against the boy are being investigated. They expressed concern that Russian officials accused the adoptive mother of murder before autopsy results have been received.
Mr Astakhov said Laura Shatto's access to two-year-old Kirill had been limited, and the boy had not been harmed.
Also on Wednesday, Russia's foreign ministry said it was "seriously alarmed" by the fate of a Russian boy adopted by a US lesbian couple, who had hidden their sexuality from Russian authorities.
The ministry said the couple had split up, drawing the boy into a "morally doubtful" conflict about his custody which was "causing damage to his psychological health".
Source: Telegraph (UK)
Addendum: Texas authorities have called the death an accident. Max died from a lacerated artery in his abdomen from self-inflicted bruising, and had a mental disorder that caused him to harm himself. No drugs were found in his body. The ruling, made only after the case had become an international cause célèbre, is unlikely to end the controversy. Max's real mother, rehabilitated according to initial Russian reports, was thrown off a train in a drunken brawl.
Adopted Russian Boy's Death Ruled Accidental in Texas
The death of an adopted 3-year-old Russian boy has been ruled an accident in Texas, just a week after Russian officials accused the boy's adopted parents of killing the child.
Authorities said today that Max Shatto, who had been adopted by Laura and Alan Shatto in November, died of a self-inflicted wound on Jan. 21.
An investigation into the boy's death was opened after he was rushed to Medical Center Hospital's emergency room shortly before 5 p.m. on Jan. 21 and later died.
Today's announcement carried contradicted a top Russian official who accused the boy's mother of murder last week.
Pavel Astakhov, Russia's children's rights commissioner, started wrote on Twitter last week: "An adoptive mother has killed a three-year-old Russian child in the state of Texas. The murder occurred at the end of January."
"The boy died before an ambulance called by his mother arrived. According to a report by medical examiners, the boy had numerous injuries," he added.
The tweets were later deleted, but Astakhov continued to blame the boy's adoptive parents for his death. On Thursday, he said he was told by a Texas social worker that the mother was responsible for the boy's death.
Texas officials denied those claims and the Shattos denied any role in their son's death, but declined to comment further about the issue.
Today, the Ector County district attorney and sheriff's department announced the findings of Max Shatto's autopsy report, which showed that he died from a lacerated artery in his abdomen from self-inflicted bruising, and that the boy had a mental disorder that caused him to harm himself.
No drugs were found in the child's system, and four doctors reviewed the autopsy report, ruling out the possibility that Shatto was fatally injured by his parents, officials said at the press conference.
The ruling could put to rest the outrage in Russia over what officials there called another example of why U.S. parents should not adopt Russian children. Astakhov's accusation of murder provided fuel for those in Russia who supported Russia's decision to ban adoptions to the U.S.
The ban was part of Russia's response to a set of human rights sanctions that President Obama signed into law in December, but it cited the cases of 19 children who had died after being adopted by Americans.
The State Department says over 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans since the fall of the Soviet Union.
U.S. officials feared the case would derail a long shot effort to convince Russian authorities to reverse the ban or at least allow more cases already in process to be completed.
In a statement after the investigation's results were announced, the U.S. Embassy sought to underscore the legitimacy its findings.
"Many local and state officials in Texas and independent experts worked diligently and professionally to examine the evidence concerning Max's death," the embassy said.
Last Friday, the U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul wrote an emotional blog post urging Russian politicians and media to withhold judgment until the cause of death was officially determined.
"It is time for sensational exploitations of human tragedy to end," he wrote.
The case was also discussed by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when they met in Berlin earlier this week, part of a broader discussion about Russia's adoption ban and other topics.
After the accusations surfaced in Russia, Max's death became the top story in Russia. The boy's birth mother emerged and, in a tearful appearance on state-run television, said she had cleaned up her act and wanted Max's younger brother Kristopher back. On her way back from the interview in Moscow, however, the mother was reportedly kicked off a train after a drunken brawl.
On Saturday, thousands are expected to turn out for a rally in central Moscow calling for Kristopher to be returned to Russia.