Peggy Hilt in court (Reuters)
Manassas, Virginia -- Peggy Hilt was sentenced to 25 years in prison today for killing her daughter, who was adopted from a Russia orphanage. 14 children adopted in Russia have been killed by their US parents over the past ten years. RussiaBlog decided to take this case as an opportunity to address the issue of adoption of Russian kids by American families, which is a major issue for many couples hoping to adopt here in the Pacific Northwest.
According to the News Observer, Kathy Friend, an American trying to adopt a child in Irkutsk, blamed the Hilt case for delaying many adoptions. "Not only did Peggy Sue Hilt kill her daughter, but she has killed the hopes and dreams of many children here in Irkutsk to be with their American-forever families," she said. Nearly 60,000 Russian kids have been adopted by American families since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Many Americans were worried that adoptions of Russian children would be banned by the Duma because of the recent murders. However, this is not true.
Peggy Hilt adopted a child without using an accredited agency. Many of these non-accredited agencies charge huge fees and don't really do much in the parents' opinion. However, when something "wrong" happens later with the American family, the agencies can be held responsible for matching a child with negligent parents.
The first news reports about the Hilt case said that little Nina was adopted illegally. Further investigation by Russians and Americans proved that Hilt adopted Nina according to the law.
Nina Bazhenova was born on October 11th, 2002. Her mother put her up for adoption and later the three Russian families who were interested in adopting the little girl decided to go with some other "options". Eventually, Nina ended up in the Irkutsk Orphanage #1 "Solnishko" (a Russian baby talk word for "sun"). The Hilts came to Russia looking for a child to adopt. They filed the necessary court papers, and after some months in 2004 they were granted permission to adopt.
According to the Irkutsk Prosecutor's office and the court officials the family "looked decent, nice and respectable". The family was raising another girl from the former Soviet Union, adopted in Ukraine. The immigration papers allowing the Hilts to bring the girl to America were obtained in Virginia, and brought to the Russian bureaucrats. Nina was finally ready to go home and join her new family.
Some members of the Russian Duma have talked about banning foreigners from adopting Russian children, but such a draconian bill has not been approved. Instead, most likely, the bill will prohibit by-passing accredited agencies, which will make adoptions more expensive, but they will also have to conduct more background research on prospective families.
Personally, I think that American families adopting Russian kids is a great idea, which gives these children an opportunity for a better life; however it is really sad when a tiny minority of families mistreat or hurt their child.