Russia to slash U.S. adoption agencies

The number of U.S. adoption agencies operating in Russia will be slashed dramatically, under new guidelines agreed between the two countries, Russia’s children rights ombudsman said on Thursday.

Pavel Astakhov said the current number of 67 agencies will drop threefold.

Under the accord signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton in Washington today, adoption agencies will have to be approved by Moscow, and will also be required to provide more information about a child’s background to prospective parents.

There was outrage last year when after an adoptive U.S. mother sent a seven-year-old Russian boy back to Moscow unaccompanied. The boy was carrying a note saying she did not want him as he was “psychotic.”

Russian authorities say at least 17 adopted Russian children have died in their adoptive U.S. families since the early 1990s. Critics have accused the authorities of using the issue to draw attention away from Russia’s own appalling record on child abuse. Some 2,000 children are killed every year in Russia by adults, in many cases family members.

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