MOSCOW – A teenager adopted by an American couple has returned to Russia, claiming that his adoptive family treated him badly and that he lived on the streets of Philadelphia and stole just to survive, Russian state media reported.
The allegations by Alexander Abnosov, who was adopted around five years ago and is now 18, will likely fuel outrage here over the fate of Russian children adopted by Americans. It’s an anger that the Kremlin has carefully stoked in recent months to justify its controversial ban on U.S. adoptions.
Russia’s Channel 1 and Rossiya television – which are both state controlled – reported Tuesday that Abnosov returned from a Philadelphia suburb to the Volga river city of Cheboksary, where his 72-year-old grandmother lives.
Russian media identified the teen as Alexander Abnosov, but also show him displaying a U.S. passport that gives his name as Joshua Alexander Salotti.
She would make any small problem big, he said of his adoptive mother on Channel 1. He also told Channel 1 that he fled home because of the conflicts with his adoptive mother, staying on the streets for about three months and stealing.
According to the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, Abnosov says that his parents visited him while he stayed in a shelter in Philadelphia, but that they didn’t ask him to come home as he’d expected. Channel 1 said his adoptive father gave him $500 to buy a ticket to Russia, though it wasn’t clear when he arrived here.
The teen’s adoptive parents – identified in the media reports as Steve and Jackie Salotti – could not immediately be reached Tuesday.
Abnosov’s story was top news on Russian state television, which tried to cast it as an example of the alleged misfortunes that befall Russian children adopted by U.S. parents.
The Russian government in December banned all American adoptions of Russian children in retaliation for a new U.S. law targeting alleged Russian human-rights violators.
Some 60,000 children have been adopted by Americans in the past two decades, and many Russians disagree with the ban, seeing it as a politically driven move depriving children of a chance to have a family.