The emergency room death of an adopted Russian child in the U.S. has ignited a firestorm of nationalism, political posturing, and anti-American anger in Russia.
Three-year-old Max Shatto, who was adopted last year by a Texas family, died in January under circumstances U.S. officials are investigating, though no arrests have been made.
Russian officials are not withholding judgment. The country’s senior investigating authority says the “murderers of the Russian child” will be punished; a special representative for human rights at Russia’s foreign ministry calls it “another case of inhuman abuse of a Russian child by U.S. adoptive parents.”
Last year, Russia passed a law banning U.S. adoptions—ostensibly because of previous deaths of Russian children in the U.S. But the move followed the passage of U.S. legislation to prevent Russians suspected of human rights abuses from entering America. There are almost one million orphans in Russia, many of them with health and psychological problems that make them less likely to be adopted by Russian parents. Americans have adopted 60,000 Russian children in the past two decades—their best shot at a life, said one orphanage director.