Russia, U.S. sign bilateral child adoption agreement

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed on Wednesday a bilateral agreement on child adoptions.

Lavrov, who is on an official visit to Washington, said the agreement is a true bilateral agreement and states several important points, including psychological testing of the adoptive parents as well as obliges adoptive parents to work with only accredited adoption agencies.

The United States will take on the responsibility of making sure both of these conditions are followed.

Psychological testing of prospective adoptive parents is now a must after a few episodes of beating, molestation or rape of Russian adopted children in the United States were registered.

A U.S. couple, Edelwina and Steven Leschinsky, was arrested in March 2010 and charged with abusing their adopted Russian daughters, now aged 15, 13 and 12, by beating them with belts and pieces of wood and forcing them to do exercises for hours on end as a punishment for bad behavior.

The case follows a stream of incidents involving the mistreatment of adopted Russian children in the United States that have incensed the Russian public and led to U.S.-Russian negotiations on regulating adoptions.

Russia is one of the largest sources of foreign adoptions for U.S. families, accounting for about 10 percent of foreign adoptions.

The agreement also stipulates that all adopted Russian children will maintain dual citizenship until they become legal adults, after which they may choose their citizenship.

The agreement must be ratified by Russian lawmakers; however, does not need to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.

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