Will the US and Russia sign a bilateral adoption agreement?
Russian news agencies announced that Sergei Lavrov, Minister for Foreign Affairs had said that Russia will halt adoptions of Russian children by US citizens
until the agreement is signed. Andrei Nesterenko, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry later confirmed this at a briefing.
The decision for a bilateral agreement comes after the case of seven-year old Artem C who was put alone on a plane back to Russia by his adoptive American mother. The boy is currently undergoing medical tests in one of Moscow’s children’s hospitals. Doctors say he is doing well. Nesterenko said that the Russian Embassy in Washington talked to the Department of State and the US Ministry of Justice for clarification of the situation. The US has announced that they intend to send a delegation to Moscow. Talks will take place in the following days with the participation of the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Justice, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the State Duma Committee for Families, Women and Children, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights and certain departments of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
According to Nesterenko, one of the agreement’s conditions will be compulsory monitoring of adopted Russian children’s welfare by Russian and US authorities, including Russian Embassy staff. This will ensure that tragic incidents cannot be repeated. In an interview with ASI, Andrei Negomodzyanov, director of Razumensky Orphanage in Belgorod, said that it is not possible to completely ban adoptions, particularly as many US citizens adopt disabled children. A family is the best thing for a child, no matter how well treated they are in an orphanage.
According to Negomodzyanov, every year 30,000 people die in car accidents, yet no-one has banned driving. The roads need to be strictly regulated. Likewise, adoption agencies that give incorrect information about living conditions of Russian children in adopted foreign families should be denied accreditation in Russia. Furthermore, Negomodzyanov thinks that adoption through non-accredited agencies should be banned as monitoring of child welfare is not obligatory in these agencies. Russian Embassy staff in the US should also monitor adopted children’s wellbeing. They should do this “out of moral conscience, especially as there have been several cases when children have died” said Negomodzyanov.
In February, Pavel Astakhov, Commissioner for Children’s Rights met with Michael Reagan, Director of the Office of Children’s Issues in the US Department of State. They discussed how the two countries could cooperate on adoption. Astakhov suggested that both countries should sign a bilateral agreement which would be endorsed by Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. However, such an agreement is problematic for the US as each state has its own laws. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that both countries have signed different agreements.
Russia has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the US has not. The US has signed the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, which Russia has not ratified. Anna Orlova, spokeswoman for the Commissioner for Children’s Rights told
ASI that it seems the US would be ready to sign a bilateral agreement with Russia. This is shown by the upcoming visit of the US Department of State delegation to Moscow. Public opinion also supports a bilateral agreement between the two countries; around 10,000 US families wanting to adopt Russian children have appealed to their government to speed up the signing of the agreement.
Translated by Lina Numan