Russia delays ban on adoption

  • Article by: ELLEN BARRY
  • New York Times
  • January 10, 2013 - 8:08 PM


MOSCOW - A controversial new Russian law banning adoptions by Americans will not go into effect for another year, President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman said Thursday. Russian children whose adoptions had already been approved by a court would be allowed to join their adoptive families in the United States, he said.

In an interview with the RIA Novosti news service, Kremlin press secretary Dmitri S. Peskov pointed out that under the bilateral adoption agreement with the United States concluded last year, either side must give 12 months' notice before withdrawing. "Right now that agreement is still in force," he said.

He said the ban -- signed into law by President Vladimir Putin last month -- meant that there would be no new adoptions and that adoptions that had not yet been approved would be halted.

"There are some children who were in the process, but whose formalities were not completed," Peskov said. "Those children will stay here."

Russian officials have said there are 46 children whose adoptions by U.S. families have been partially processed, but that not all of them have court orders.

For Americans, adopting from Russia is an expensive and lengthy process, often costing upward of $50,000 and requiring multiple trips. The court decree comes late in the process, after parents have been matched with a child and orphanage workers have begun preparing the child to join a new family. After court approval, there is a 30-day waiting period, and only then can parents return and make final arrangements to take the child to the United States.

The adoption ban was passed by Russia's Parliament in retaliation for a U.S. law aimed at punishing Russian officials accused of human rights abuses, and it left many legal questions unanswered. Official statements in Russia have been contradictory, and many U.S. families have been in limbo, uncertain whether their adoptions will go through.

'No softening'

Peskov's statements Thurs-day led some to suggest that the Kremlin had slightly softened its stance on the ban. But in an interview, Peskov denied that, saying, "there is no need for any softening."

The bilateral agreement holds that it is valid for a year after one party terminates it. A deputy prime minister warned Putin in a letter that Russia risked violating the agreement by passing the adoption ban.

A prominent Russian defense lawyer, Genri M. Reznik, told the radio station Ekho Moskvy that adoptions could continue because the Russian Constitution says international treaties take precedence over Russian laws if they contradict each other.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington hoped to complete all the adoptions that had been initiated before the law was passed. She has said that 500 to 1,000 families have been affected. "We are very hopeful that in the spirit of the original agreement ... we will be able to work through those cases that had been begun."

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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