Seven Petersburg Orphans to Beat US Adoption Ban in February

ST. PETERSBURG, January 18 (RIA Novosti) – Seven Russian children from St. Petersburg are expected to arrive in the United States by the end of February, city child rights commissioner Svetlana Agapitova said on Friday, despite a Russian ban on US adoptions introduced last month.

A court ruling in favor of five children has already come into effect, Agapitova said. Two more children will leave Russia for the United States in about a month as soon as all the paperwork is done.

By this time, the Supreme Court is expected to give its recommendations to the Russian courts on the consideration of US adoption cases, Supreme Court spokesman Pavel Odintsov said on Friday.

At least 33 children from St. Petersburg orphanages had met their prospective parents and were preparing to be adopted before the Russian ban on adoptions by US nationals came into force on January 1, Agapitova said.

“I worry about their fate,” Agapitova said. “More than half of them have serious diseases. Seven children are handicapped, four have been diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, others also have serious health problems,” she said.

“These children have met their prospective parents and realized that they will soon have a family. Acting contrary to their expectations would be wrong,” Agapitova said.

The ban is part of Russia’s wider response to the United States’ so-called Magnitsky Act, which introduced sanctions against Russian officials suspected of involvement in human rights abuses.

Opponents of the ban say it effectively condemns Russian children in state care to lives of misery, in what they say are underfunded and sometimes brutal institutions, referred to in Russian as “children’s homes.”

Nearly 130,000 children were eligible for adoption in the country as of late December, according to official figures. In 2011, that figure was 82,000, while just 7,400 were adopted by Russian nationals that year.

The ban will affect almost all of the children – some with serious illnesses – now at various stages of the adoption process by US families, which the US State Department estimated at 500-1,000.


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