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Putin Bans American Families from Adopting Russian Orphans

(UPDATED) Russia announces one-year delay before controversial adoption ban will take effect.

Update (Jan. 18): The New York Times is reporting that Russia's controversial ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian orphans will not go into effect for another year. Due to a bilateral adoption agreement signed between the U.S. and Russia in 2011, which requires either country to give 12 months notice before withdrawing, the new law signed by Putin in December will receive temporary reprieve.

But the announcement of the adoption ban's delay was not enough to stop more than 20,000 protesters from marching through Moscow last weekend, questioning the "morality of a ban on adoptions by Americans in a country where so many children are in foster care or orphanages."

That could be good news for the 50 or so U.S. families whose adoptions are in the process of being finalized, but the exact effect of the delay is not yet clear.


Update (January 11): USA Today has fresh stats on America's "critical adoption shortage," while the Russian Orthodox Church has urged its members to adopt children now that Americans cannot. CT previously noted how international adoptions hit a 15-year low, but also how evangelicals have pivoted to adopt more special-needs, older, and foster care children.


December 31, 2012: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial bill that will ban American families from adopting Russian children. Reuters reports that the measure, which will take effect tomorrow (January 1), is "retaliation for a new U.S. human rights law that [Putin] says is poisoning relations."

Americans adopted 1,000 Russian children in 2011 and an estimated 50 adoptions are currently pending, according to the Christian Science Monitor. This includes many adoptions by evangelicals. The Russian Orthodox Church supports the ban, with one of its leaders, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society of the Moscow Patriarchate, implying that Russian children adopted by Americans (or other foreigners) . ""They won't get a truly Christian upbringing and that means falling away from the church and from the path to eternal life, in God's kingdom," Chaplin told Interfax, a Russian state news agency.

In early December, the U.S. Senate passed the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which imposes restrictions on Russian human rights abusers. In response, the Russian government began work on its bill, the Dima Yakovlev Act, named after a Russian orphan who died of mistreatment after being adopted by an American family in 2008.

Some Russian legislators denounced the bill, saying that it punishes orphans more than it does American politicians. The ban also affects many U.S. families who have invested both time and money in the lengthy international adoption process.

According to a statement from the U.S. State Department, the Russian government's decision is "politically motivated." The statement also expressed concern that "adoptions already underway may be stopped," preventing "children who have already met and bonded with their future parents" from joining U.S. families.

CT has regularly reported on international adoption, including the increasing number of open adoptions and tighter restrictions on adoptions worldwide.

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