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MOSCOW, November 1 (Itar-Tass) — A Russian-U.S. agreement on cooperation in the area of adoptions comes into force from November 1.
Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov has repeatedly stressed the importance of such agreement. “Over the past 20 years, when thousands of Russian children were adopted by Americans, there were no comprehensive intergovernmental agreement, which meant that Russia had no legal possibilities to help its children whose lives were in danger in foster families,” he noted.
“As soon as the agreement comes into force, the first thing we shall ask of the United States will be to provide complete information about our children,” Astakhov stressed.
According to the Russian children’s rights ombudsman, this is the first agreement between Russia and the United States that regulates adoptions procedures, although Russian children have been adopted to American foster families for some 20 years already.
“It took a long time to negotiate this agreement. The document simplifies help to those who is already living in the United States, first of all to children who suffered from the actions of their foster parents,” he noted. It is important, in his words, that this is an equal agreement imposing mutual obligations on both sides.
From now on, international adoptions will be made via agencies accredited both in Russia and in the United States. The agreement leaves no room for the so called independent adoptions.
According to Astakhov, the bulk of applications for adoption come from the United States. Official statistics say that about 50,000 Russian children have been taken to the United States, although unofficial sources put the figure at about 100,000. Next, in terms of adoptions, come Spain and Italy.
At the same time, Astakhov noted that the number of international adoptions from Russia is decreasing. “International adoption will not be as large-scale as it used to be. We must understand that we don’t have many children but we do have many people who want to adopt them,” Astakhov said.
The agreement also provides for a special adoption procedure for relatives. They will have the right to be the first to adopt such children but will have to undergo examination and present a package of documents, like other contenders.
The adoptions agreement was signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on July 13, 2011. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law ratifying the document on July 28, 2012.
The law was initiated by the Russian side after a series of deaths of Russian children in foster families in the United States.
The U.S. State Department will oversee the implementation of the agreement in the United States, and the Adoptions Agency and Citizenship and Migration Agency – in Russia. The new adoptions procedure has been explained in detail at the websites of these agencies. The issue will be controlled by Russia’s Children’s Rights Council and the ministries of foreign affairs and of education.