Duma to Debate Russia-U.S. Adoption Deal

Talks on bilateral child adoption agreement

March 30, 2012 / RIA Novosti

An adoption deal between Russia and the United States drafted in the wake of a series of tragic episodes involving Russian children and their adoptive American families was submitted to the State Duma for ratification on Friday, a lower house spokesman said.

The need for such an agreement became particularly acute two years ago when a U.S. mother sent her a seven-year-old adopted Russian son back to Moscow on a plane with a note saying she did not want him anymore.

The deal was signed in Washington in July 2011. The Russian Foreign Ministry had suspended Russian adoptions by the U.S. families until the tougher adoption requirements come into force.

The agreement stipulates that a Russian child can only be adopted by a foreign family if there is no Russian family found for him at home. The document also provides for stricter control over the child’s life after the adoption.

Seven rounds of negotiations on the agreement stalled over different legislations in American states, and over Russia’s refusal to allow gay couples to adopt Russian kids. Eventually, the sides agreed to ban homosexual couples from Russian adoptions.

Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov earlier said he hoped the agreement would be ratified this spring.

Russian lawmakers repeatedly expressed discontent with what they called “soft punishments” for adoptive parents in the U.S. abusing their adopted Russian children. In February, a Pennsylvania court sentenced Theresa McNulty, who brutally abused her adopted Russian daughter, six-year-old Dasha, to just 23 months in jail the possibility of parole in eight-months’ time.

In another abuse case, a court in Pennsylvania sentenced Michael and Nanette Craver to 16 months in jail last November after they were found guilty of the involuntarily manslaughter of their adopted Russian son Ivan who was found dead with over 80 injuries on his body.

Russia is one of the largest sources of foreign adoptions for U.S. families. At present, about 400 Russian children are living in adoptive families in the U.S.

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