ST. PETERSBURG, March 6 (RIA Novosti) – The adoptions of at least 33 children from St. Petersburg orphanages are still in limbo two months after American families were barred from adopting Russian children, the city’s ombudswoman said on Wednesday.
At least 33 children, including 12 with special needs, had already met their American parents-to-be before the law came into force, ombudswoman Svetlana Agapitova said. It remains unclear whether all of those adoptions will now have to be cancelled, she said.
“We are waiting for the Education and Science Ministry’s decision. They should explain how the Dima Yakovlev bill will work,” Agapitova said on Wednesday.
The so-called Dima Yakovlev bill banning adoptions of Russian children by American families was enacted on January 1 as part of Russia’s response to the US Magnitsky Act, which introduces sanctions against Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses.
The US State Department has said as many as 500 to 1,000 American families may have been in the process of adopting Russian children as of January 1, while Russia’s child rights ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, said earlier that his regional representatives have identified 172 minors in the process of being adopted by Americans when the ban took effect.
Russia has said the ban is necessary to protect its children, citing cases of abuse and neglect by US parents which have resulted in the deaths of at least 19 Russian adoptees since the early 1990’s.