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SENTENTIA. European Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

Legal regulation of Russia-Spain relations in the area of adoption of Russian orphans by Spanish citizens

Kuznetsova Viktoriia

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4545-1676

PhD in History

Senior lecturer, Department of Foreign Languages, Peoples' Friendship Universityof Russia

117198, Russia, Moscow region, Moscow, Miklukho-Maklaya str., 6



Kargovskaia Elena

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7764-0565

Senior lecturer, Department of Foreign Languages, Peoples' Friendship Universityof Russia

117198, Russia, Moscow, Miklukho-Maklaya str., 6






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Abstract: This article analyzes the legal regulation of relations between the Kingdom of Spain and the Russian Federation in the field of adoption of Russian orphans by Spanish citizens. The authors examine the history of development of the bilateral Russia-Spain cooperation; normative legal framework and order of adoption of the Russian orphans in Russian and Spanish legislation. The article provides statistical data on the adoption trends of the orphans in the Russian Federation by the citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. The relevance of the selected topic is substantiated by the fact that for many years Spain has demonstrated steady interest in this regard, holding a second place among the countries that adopt children from Russia. However, the legislative and bureaucratic framework for cooperation in this field requires improvements. The conclusion is formulated that despite the decrease in the number of adopted Russian orphans by Spanish citizens in recent years, it is necessary to continue developing cooperation in this area, as well as improve the existing normative legal framework.


international cooperation, regulatory framework, international adoption, legislation, orphans, child rights, citizen, state, Spain, Russia

In 1977, mutual relations between the USSR and Spain were restored. Today, Russia, as the lawful successor of the USSR, continues to develop international partnership with the Spanish Kingdom.

In October 2017, Ignacio Ibanez (Spanish Ambassador in Russia) said that Russia and Spain have long and solid relations. He expressed his hope for further strengthening of multi-format collaboration between the two countries [1]. Indeed, Spain and Russia continue to increase their cooperation not limited to the economic sphere.

In this paper, we will analyse cooperation between Spain and Russia on the adoption of Russian orphans by Spanish citizens. In the modern globalized world traveling has become quite affordable, the dynamics of life have increased, the borders of countries have become less insurmountable. As a result, cultural encounters are happening more often and more and more people, find a couple for marriage in other countries. With the increase of cross-national marriages, the number of children adopted by foreign citizens also grows. Further relocation of the adopted children to other countries is a very common practice our days. Spain for many years has shown a steady interest in this cooperation, taking second place among countries adopting children from Russia , which makes this paper relevant in contemporary discourse. The authors reviewed the major problems and documents regarding relations between Spain and Russia in the studied area.

The subject of the study is the legal regulation of relations for the adoption of Russian orphans by Spanish citizens. In the work, various methods of scientific research were used, in particular, historical, comparative legal, statistical and system analysis.

After the October revolution and the Civil war, Soviet Russia had a large amount of orphans and underage children left without parental care. Thus, numerous public boarding schools were established where children were placed under the care of the state. All of that happened as a consequence of the Great

Patriotic War. In the first post-war years, more than 650 orphanages were built for children who lost their parents during the war. More than 600 thousand children were placed there, and 400 thousand of them were located on the territory of the Russian Socialist Republic [2].

The process of adoption of Russian children by foreign citizens started developing after the collapse of the USSR in the 1990s. In 1992 Russia has officially authorized the adoption of minors by foreign citizens.

The number of adoptions of Russian children by foreign citizens grew until 2004. Thus it was increasing from 1485 in 1993 up to 9419 in 2000 [3, p. 369].

In the Russian Federation, according to the Federal Bank's data on orphans and children left without parental care, 186,000 children were registered in the state database in 2006, 140,300 in 2010, 87,300 in 2015, in 2018 - 47,242. In 2004, 58% of adoptive parents were foreign citizens, in 2010 this index fell down to 30% and in 2015 it was only 11% [4].

In Spain, since the mid-1960s, adoptions (international adoptions especially) have become a very common social phenomenon. The decrease of the birth rate in Russia, as well as various adverse economic problems in some foreign countries, played a huge role in the increase of the number of foreign adoptions in the Spanish Kingdom. [5, p.18]. From 1997 to 2007 35,585 minors from foreign countries were adopted there. Spain is rated second in the world by the number of adoptions. 78% of adoptive parents in Spain take children of age of 0 to 2 years [2]. It’s a fact that international adoption in this country is an everyday reality.

The history of cooperation between Russia and Spain in this area began between 1937 and 1939, during the civil war in Spain. The Soviet Union evacuated about 3 thousand Spanish children to its territory [2].

Today, Spain is rated second in the world (after Italy) by the number of adoptions of Russian children. Over the last decade, almost 9 thousand little Russians were adopted, and since 1999, Spanish families have accepted about 15 thousand orphans [6, p. 37].

Therefore, in the interest of citizens and in order to develop international cooperation, countries have created specific rules regarding the legal regulation of private law, including family relations involving foreigners. Nowadays, every country is required to follow these regulations [7, p.1].

In order to guarantee that adoption by foreign citizens takes place in the interests of the child and in compliance with their basic rights declared by the international law, in 2000 Russia signed the Hague Convention, 1993 (as well as 71 other countries, including Spain) on protection of children and cooperation regarding foreign adoptions. Russia has not yet ratified this Convention.

The international law on adoption is aimed to measure the needs that occurred during the increase of the number of international adoptions. The law in particular is aimed at protecting the interests of the child, at overcoming regulatory conflicts and at combining constitutional principles with the international documents in order to increase the number of international adoptions [8, p. 1]. The Convention is aimed at expanding cooperation between countries and at ensuring that the interests of orphaned children are respected and at recognising the adoptions made in accordance to the Convention.

Another important international pact regulating adoption was signed by both Russia and Spain on 20 November 1989 — the Convention on the rights of children. This document also aims to protect the interests of children during adoption performed in the participating countries [9].

On August 30, 2006, in Spain was published a decree of the General Directorate of registration and notary (dated July 15, 2006) on the recognition and registration of international adoptions in the civil registry offices of Spain [10, p.684].

Based on the established legal framework and up to year 2012, Russian Federation and the Spanish Kingdom have successfully cooperated on the adoption of Russian children. Data published on the website of the Ministry of health, social services and equality of Spain indicates that in 2012 the major number of adopted children in Spain were (in order of decreasing) from Russia, China, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Colombia [11, p. 9].

However, on December 28, 2012, the State Duma of the Russian Federation approved the "Dima Yakovlev Law", which prohibits the adoption of Russian children by the US citizens [12]. It was named in the memory of a Russian boy who died of heat when his American adoptive father locked him in a car in the sun. This law has significantly complicated the process of adoption of Russian children by the citizens of foreign countries. As a result, a downward trend in the number of adopted Russian children by Spanish citizens took place: in 2011 - 685 children; in 2012 - 502; in 2013 - 303 and in 2018 this number came down to only 35 children [13].

But not only this situation has affected the mutual relations between Russian Federation and the Spanish Kingdom on the adoption issue. On June 11, 2013, the State Duma of the Russian Federation passed a law prohibiting "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors»[14]. Due to this law, the Supreme Court of Russia suspended the process of approving adoption agreements with countries with legalised same-sex marriages (on July 1, 2005, same-sex marriages were legalised in Spain [15, p. 1534]). The Civil code of Spain was also altered on July 1, 2005, allowing same-sex couples to adopt children [16, p. 422]. In October 2005, the Association of same-sex families of Spain openly opposed the position of Russia on the adoption issue, wishing to provoke a conflict between the two countries.

A strict drop of the number of international adoptions in Spain also occurred due to other reasons. After the boom that took place between 2004 and 2005, when 5,541 and 5,433 adoptions were registered, the number of adoptions decreased during the next few years. In 2015, only 799 foreign orphans were accepted. According to the Spanish Ministry of health, social services and equality, the overall number of adopted children has decreased by 85% over the past 10 years [2]. As a result, the number of adopted Russian children has also decreased (from 1,262 to 131 in 10 years) [17].

It is very important to state that no inappropriate treatment of a child adopted by a Spanish citizen has ever took place. In addition, the cooperation between Russia and Spain in areas other than adoption and absence of disagreements on important political issues played a major role in the adoption issue of that time.

On July 9, 2014, a mutual international agreement on adoption was also signed by Russia and Spain[18]. The main purpose of the document was to ensure the protection of interests of Russian children pending for international adoption by Spanish citizens.

Both parties were interested in this agreement. During this time, there were more than 650 thousand children left without parental care in Russia. In Spain, on the contrary, the number of childless families has significantly exceeded the number of orphaned children. The process of adoption of Spanish children is also much more complex and longer than the process of adoption of Russian children. The first one can last up to seven years [19, p. 184].

One of the main conditions that our countries have agreed on is that Spanish single parents or same-sex couples will not be eligible to adopt a Russian child. In addition, Russian authorities will be allowed to request reports on the situation of a child adopted by Spanish citizens. However, these obligations are only approved while Spanish government permits them [8, p. 7].

In General, the agreement between Spain and Russia regulate the most important issues on the adoption of Russian children by Spanish citizens. This document was ratified by Spain on October 16, 2014, and by Russia on February 20, 2015.

«The ratification of the agreement between the Russian Federation and the Spanish Kingdom on cooperation on adoption demonstrates the consistent course of our country to comply with international standards and to act in the interests of children," said Elena Mizulina, a member of the Federation Council of Russia. — We must provide an opportunity for a child who has not found a family in Russia to find it outside of their homeland. For us, it is fundamental not to follow the "eye for an eye" rule, and continue to act in the interests of children regardless the sanctions imposed by the European Union. This is a very correct political move. It demonstrates the true priorities of the Russian state" [20].

It is important to emphasize once again that in Spain, unlike the United States, not a single fact has been registered of inappropriate treatment of a child. This may be due to the fact that in Spain it is much more difficult to adopt a child and the requirements for the adopting family are very strict. Before adopting a child, the Spanish family must go through the "eligibility process" [21].

The above allows us to conclude that there is a need for further cooperation between Russia and Spain in the framework of concluding bilateral agreements in the field of adoption, which, on the one hand, will create an effective mechanism for controlling the situation of adopted children in the territory of a foreign state, and, on the other hand, they will make the process of adoption of Russian children by Spanish citizens less complicated and reduce its time frame.

Besides, as this analysis shows, the signing of a bilateral agreement on cooperation in the field of adoption of children between Russia and Spain in 2014 was important for both countries, as it allowed unlocking more than 600 adoption processes of Russian children by heterosexual families. Its ratification played a crucial role in the lives of many children. As for Russia, this document also provided a step towards reduction of the number of orphaned children and provided them a possibility to live in a real family.

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