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2 Adoption Agencies Barred After Boy's Death


2 Adoption Agencies Barred After Boy's Death

15 July 2008

By Svetlana Osadchuk

Two U.S. adoption agencies have been barred from operating in Russia, but authorities denied Monday that the decision was linked to the recent death of an adopted baby in the United States.

The Education and Science Ministry said it had withdrawn the accreditation of the two agencies -- the Cradle of Hope Adoption Center and Family and Children's Agency -- after inspections found that they had violated the law.

The ministry supplied a list of the purported violations, which primarily focused on failures to keep the ministry informed about the well-being of adopted children.

"For the first three years, they should inform the Russian education ministry about the situation regularly," ministry spokesman Andrei Nedrov said.

He said the ministry was considering toughening the conditions for agencies seeking to reapply for licenses after being barred.

Officials at the two U.S. agencies declined comment. The agencies were among 33 licensed to operate in Russia.

State-run RIA-Novosti and other media outlets have linked the ban to the death of Dmitry Yakolev, a 21-month-old boy who died last Tuesday after his adoptive father left him in a hot car in Virginia. But Vladimir Kabanov, head of the education ministry's adoption department, denied any connection. "They were banned because of numerous violations uncovered during the checks. This has nothing to do with Dima Yakovlev's death," Kabanov said.

Yakolev's father, Miles Harrison, 49, managing director of a real estate consulting firm in Herndon, Virginia, left the boy in the back seat of his sport utility vehicle for much of the day as he worked in his office, The Washington Post reported. The temperature in the vehicle rose to about 55 degrees Celsius before a passerby saw the dead child late in the afternoon and alerted the office receptionist.

Harrison, who with his wife adopted the boy three months ago, has been charged with manslaughter and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

He adopted the boy through the European Adoption Consultants, not one of the banned agencies, Kabanov said. His ministry is now carrying out a check of the European Adoption Consultants, he said.

The agency's executive director, Margaret Cole, declined to comment on the case Monday.

The death could raise fears about a clampdown on international adoptions. Russia tightened controls over adoptions a few years ago after several children died at the hands of U.S. parents.

Boris Altshuler, head of The Right of the Child group, said 14 Russian children have been killed by their adoptive parents in the United States over the past 15 years, compared with 12 in Russia.

Adoption agencies must be held accountable for their work, said Moscow ombudsman Alexei Golovan. "If they fail to meet their responsibilities, they should be barred from operating in Russia," he said, adding that he would like to see more Russian parents adopt children.

About 3,500 children were adopted by Americans in 2006, or 71 percent of all boys and girls adopted abroad, according to the latest government figures. That same year, more than 5,000 were adopted by Russians, and 68,000 were placed in foster families.

2008 Jul 15