Russia Halts Adoptions by American Families

By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted on 04/19/2010
In Adoption

After an incident involving an adopted Russian boy being “returned” to his home country, Russia froze adoptions of children by US families last week.

The suspension of adoptions from Russia has affected about 3,000 American families who were in the process of adopting Russian children.

Russia Adoptions Temporarily Suspended

Russia halted international adoptions of children by US families after 7-year-old Artyem Saveliev’s American adoptive family put him on a trans-Atlantic flight from the US to Moscow.

The boy’s adoptive family hired a Russian driver to deliver him from the airport to the Russian Ministry of Education, where officials read a note stating that the child had “severe psychopathic issues/behaviors” and that his adoptive parents no longer wished to raise him.

However, according to the US Embassy in Moscow, the issues with adoptions in Russia will be handled fairly quickly.

In a CNN article, US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle said, “I would say to American families that are in the process of adoption, not to worry too much. We’re working on this and we really don’t think that this will have any long-term effect on the ability of American families to adopt here.”

US officials will reportedly be heading to Russia this week to work out a plan.

The Adoption Process

Adoptions of children in Russia by US families have been in the decline in recent years, with just 1,586 children adopted in 2009. This is down from 5,862 adoptions of Russian children in 2004.

Inter-country adoptions in Russia follow a standard but sometimes daunting process. The Russian government keeps a database of orphaned children eligible for adoption within Russia. Following a month on the local database, a month on the regional database and six months on the national database, the children become eligible for inter-country adoption.

For Americans to qualify for adoptions of Russian children, they must be US citizens. Unlike some countries, Russia allows single men or women to adopt children, but he or she must be at least 25 years old and at least 16 years older than the adoptive child. There is no age requirement for married couples.

The prospective parents must go through background checks, home studies and file the appropriate paperwork with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Russia may not allow adoptions of children by prospective parents who have certain diseases, disabilities or other medical conditions.

It can take 15 to 18 months before the paperwork is approved. Then Russia’s Ministry of Education in conjunction with the central adoption authority will match a child with prospective parents. Parents must travel to Russia to meet the children before the adoption process can progress any further.

Once the prospective parents spend time with the children, they must apply for a court date. Court dates are not usually scheduled for at least a month, so the prospective parents usually return to the US and then head back to Russia. Once the Russian court approves the adoption, parents must bring their children home on immigrant visas.

The process sounds daunting — and it’s expensive, too. With the cost of adoption fees and travel, it’s common for prospective parents to spend more than $20,000 on the whole adoption process.

For many, adoption is a rewarding, enriching experience that changes many lives for the better. Hopefully, the several thousand US families affected by this freeze can soon complete their adoptions of children from Russia.

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