Family Arrangements for Orphans

Adoption is the fullest integration of a child into a new family. While the adopted child loses the status of an orphan and the accompanying benefits and allowances, he or she acquires all the rights and responsibilities associated with the new family, including rights of inheritance and the obligation to support the adoptive parents in their old age if they demand it through court. Occasionally the loss of benefits deters families from adoption, and they seek another arrangement. But for the children such legal details are irrelevant - they are simply happy to leave the orphanage and become part of a family.

The government has already taken unprecedented steps to encourage adoption. Starting this year, adopting parents will receive a lump sum of 8,000 rubles ($327) when adopting a child, which is equal to the childbirth allowance. Families that adopt a second child will also receive the same benefits, 250,000 rubles ($10,204) over three years, as they would for a second natural child.

Guardianship is an arrangement in which orphans are taken in by relatives.

The family receives an allowance, set by the regional authority, while the child retains all the benefits of an orphan, like easy access to higher education, for example.

In a foster family, both the children and the parents are entitled to money - the government is effectively paying them to bring up a child. Again, the actual size of benefits is determined by the regions. However, earlier this year, the federal government issued a resolution setting the minimum monthly allowance for a child in a foster family at 4,000 rubles ($163.3) and the payment to the parents at 2,500 rubles ($102).

In recent years, some orphanages have developed a fourth system known as "patronage." Similar to fostering, a child who is officially registered in an orphanage lives with a family.

The parents are considered employees of the orphanage, and a special "patronage service" regularly visits the family and provides assistance if needed.

Although this system has been taken up in about a third of the regions, it has yet to be reflected in federal law.

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