MOSCOW, July 10 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Lower House of Parliament, the State Duma, ratified on Tuesday adoption deals with the United States and France, stipulating that a Russian child can only be adopted by a foreign family if no Russian parents can be found at home.
The need for such an agreement became particularly acute two years ago, when a U.S. mother sent her seven-year-old adopted Russian son back to Moscow on a plane with a note saying she did not want him anymore.
The Russian-U.S. adoption deal was signed in Washington in July 2011. The Russian Foreign Ministry had suspended adoptions of Russian kids by U.S. families until tougher adoption requirements come into force.
The Russian-French adoption agreement that was finalized in November 2011 was also ratified on Tuesday.
Both documents include several requirements, including psychological testing of the adoptive parents who will only be allowed to work with accredited adoption agencies.
The agreements also stipulate that all adopted Russian children will maintain dual citizenship until they become legal adults, after which they may choose their citizenship.
Pavel Astakhov, the country’s ombudsman for children’s rights, said in late 2011 that Moscow also planned to sign bilateral agreements on child adoption with the U.K., the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Ireland and Israel.
Astakhov, who was on a visit to the United States in early July, rallied for a probe into the U.S. Ranch for Kids, a respite care home in Montana that helps children, most of them from Russia, who have suffered from disrupted adoptions. According to the ombudsman, children kept at the ranch are subjected to abuse and “are completely isolated from the outside world.”
He said that he would root to close the ranch after the adoption treaty’s ratification.
“As soon as this agreement is ratified… it [the United States] will put this ranch up for inspection,” Astakhov said, adding “unfortunately, it is not the only ranch in America.”
The ombudsman expressed hope that in five years time Russian children would not be adopted by foreign citizens.
Russia has one of the highest numbers of foreign adoptions. U.S. citizens adopt about 900 Russian children annually; about 300 Russian kids go to French families every year. Data from the Russian Education Ministry shows that at present, about 47,000 Russian children are living in adoptive families in the United States and 25,000 kids live in France.
Windows to Russia…