Russia re-opens door to American adoptions

Russia and the US have managed to overcome a lengthy adoption crisis, in doing so alleviating one another’s concerns over the wellbeing of orphan children who are adopted by American parents.

This comes as the long-anticipated Russian-American adoption agreement was signed by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in Washington.

The document obliges Americans to apply to adopt Russian orphans only through certified agencies, and to undergo mental health tests before they do so.

“We take very seriously the safety and security of children that are adopted by American parents and this agreement provides new important safeguards to protect them,” Hillary Clinton stressed. “It also increases transparency for all parties involved in the adoption process.”

The document also requires that all adopted children from Russia keep their Russian citizenship until they turn 18.

In May 2010 Russia froze all adoptions by foreigners after several scandals broke involving the mistreatment of Russian children by their adoptive parents.

Among them is the case that outraged many, when an adoptive mother from the US put an unaccompanied seven-year-old boy on a plane back to Moscow, saying she could no longer handle the stress of raising him.

In another scandalous case, a seven-year-old Russian boy was allegedly beaten to death by his adoptive parents in the US. American doctors found more than 80 injuries on his body. A recent court hearing, however, ruled that the child could have hurt himself as he was suffering from the reactive attachment disorder, Russia’s ombudsman for the Children’s Rights press service reported.

“The adoption agreement will help us remove the irritants that have quite justifiably been emerging in the realm of public opinion concerning the destiny of Russian children adopted by Americans,” Lavrov said.

The move was warmly welcomed by Russian children’s right specialists.

“The number of kids adopted by American parents has decreased in the last few years,” Svetlana Sorokina from the Presidential Human Rights Council told RT. “This is connected with the lack of legislation regulating adoptions, and also with people’s unwillingness to give children up for adoption abroad.”

“But while we haven’t solved this problem ourselves, we have to think about the kids and where they’d be better off. Especially since foreigners often adopt children with disabilities, those who in Russia often end up in nursing homes,” Sorokina added.

The retroactive force of this agreement is probably one of its most important articles, believes Russia’s ombudsman for Children’s Rights, Pavel Astakhov.

“It affects a great number of people that have already been taken to the US. We will get access to these people. We will be able to meet them and talk to them. Right now we don’t know anything about them. The fact that America has agreed to sacrifice individual privacy for the wellbeing of children deserves respect,” Astakhov said.

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