WASHINGTON, December 21 (RIA Novosti) – On the heels of a third and final vote by the Russian Duma Friday approving a bill prohibiting the adoption of Russian children by Americans, US officials said if it becomes law the move would hurt Russian children in state-run facilities by preventing some of them from being adopted by happy, loving families.
“The welfare of children is simply too important to be linked to political aspects of our relationship,” said Patrick Ventrell, Acting Deputy Spokesman for the US State Department, in a press briefing on Friday.
“What this would do is prevent children from growing up in a family environment of happiness, love and understanding,” he added. “It’s Russian children who would be harmed by this measure.”
Russian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill, written as a retaliatory response to the US Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on Russian officials accused of human rights violations.
The Russian bill is nearly identical. It imposes sanctions on Americans accused of human rights violations, but it also imposes a ban on Americans adopting Russian children.
Russia’s state care facilities were home to about 650,000 children at the start of 2012, according to Russian children’s ombudsman Pavel Astakhov.
US State Department figures show more than 60,000 children have been adopted from Russia by American parents since the early 1990s.
The bill is scheduled for review next Wednesday by the upper chamber Federation Council, and if approved would then go to Russian President Vladimir Putin to either be vetoed or signed into law.
Putin and others have raised concerns about 19 adopted Russian children who have died in the care of their American parents since the early 1990s.
The two countries have worked to address the problems and signed a new adoption treaty last month the mandates several key changes in the process including more training for potential parents and greater support and oversight after the adoptions go through.
“If Russian officials have concerns about the implementation of this agreement, we stand ready to work with them to improve it and remain committed to supporting inter-country adoptions between our two countries,” said Ventrell.
He said US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul had reached out to Russian officials in an effort to resolve the dispute.