Russian Parliament passes Russia-US adoption law
Moscow: Russia's Parliament on Tuesday ratified a long-awaited agreement with the United States regulating the adoption of Russian children by Americans.
The ratification by a 244-96-2 vote in the State Duma came a year after the two countries worked out the pact.
Russian officials had long complained about the abuse and even killings of children by their adoptive parents saying at least 19 Russian adoptive children have died at their American parents' hands.
The issue came to a head in April 2010 when an American adoptive mother sent her 7-year-old boy back to Russia on a one-way ticket, saying he had behavioral problems.
In the wake of that case, some Russian officials called for adoptions by Americans to be halted altogether. That never happened, but some adoption agencies working in Russia said their applications were frozen for several months.
Russian and US officials signed an agreement aimed at ending the dispute in 2011, but the Russian Parliament waited nearly a year to ratify it due to technicalities.
Ratification should end the strife and allow adoptions to resume efficiently. All adoptions would have to be processed through adoption agencies registered in Russia. The agreement requires the agencies to monitor the child's upbringing, schedule visits by a social worker and send reports to Russian authorities.
The deal makes sure that prospective American parents would have better information about the social and medical histories of Russian children.
By providing monitoring, the agreement is likely to reassure a public angered by the abuse and deaths. It also could undercut complaints by nationalists that Russian children are being "sold."
The poorly controlled flow of Russian adoptions highlighted sensitivity over the loss of children as Russia faces a demographic crisis due to low birth rates.
Full resumption of adoptions will mean increased opportunity for Russian orphans to leave underfunded and crowded orphanages. There are more than 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to UNICEF.
Russia has been a major source of adopted children in the US for two decades. Adoptions from Russia peaked in 2004 at 5,862 adoptions, according to the State Department. Their number was 1,586 in 2009 a year before Russia demanded an agreement regulating adoptions.
More than 60,000 Russian orphans have been adopted in the US, according to the National Council For Adoption, a US advocacy nonprofit group. Russian children rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov insists that the number could be as high as 100,000. The discrepancy could be due to the Russian government's virtual absence of adoption records before 1996.