Top Court to Issue Adoption Guidelines ‘Within Weeks’

MOSCOW, January 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Supreme Court will issue guidance to regional courts for consideration of adoptions by American families within the next two weeks, court press service head Pavel Odintsov said on Friday.

Since a ban on adoptions by US nationals entered into force, regional courts have stopped issuing the requisite documents to American families that have already been cleared in lower courts, awaiting clarification from the Supreme Court.

The documents in question include court resolutions, child birth certificates, adoption certificates and other papers without which an adoption cannot be completed and a child taken out of Russia.

The Supreme Court will analyze the current practice on the regional level and work out recommendations for lower courts, Odintsov said.

It was not immediately clear in what form those recommendations will be made, he added.

“We do not know yet whether it will be a resolution by [the Supreme Court’s] plenary session or whether some conferences will be held on the issue,” he said.

The adoption ban, endorsed by Putin, came into force on January 1 as part of Russia’s wider response to the United States’ so-called Magnitsky Act, which introduces sanctions against Russian officials suspected of involvement in human rights abuses.

There have been conflicting signals from Russian state and government agencies as to the effects the ban will have on “pipeline cases,” referring to the adoptions that have been launched but have not yet been formally completed.

A Kremlin spokesman said earlier this month a Russian-US adoption agreement would remain in force until yearend, but earlier comments by the same official, as well as the Foreign Ministry, suggest this will do little if anything to lift the Russian adoption ban imposed on Americans.

Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said Monday that with over 128,000 children waiting for adoption, there are only 18,000 families in Russia ready to take them.

In 2011, that number was 82,000, while just 7,400 were adopted by Russian nationals that year.

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.

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

Over 60,000 Russian children have been adopted by American families in the last 20 years, including around 1,000 in 2011, US State Department figures show.


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