Effective January 1, 2013, Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a new law banning the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. Seen by some civil rights groups as a retaliatory measure to President Obama’s Magnitsky Act – a bill that imposes travel restrictions on Russian human rights violators – the new law may adversely affect hundreds of Americans seeking to adopt Russian children. For example, Russia is the third most popular country, following China and Ethiopia, for U.S. citizens to adopt children. With over 1,000 Russian adoptions back in 2011, it is without a doubt that Putin’s new law will devastate many American families desperate to adopt a child.
In fact, the announcement of the new law has been a wrenching one for Jenny and Aaron Moyer, a U.S. family who was extremely close to finalizing the adoption of a Russian boy named Vitali with Down syndrome. Desperate to be reunited with the child, the Moyer’s are clinging to their faith that the Russian government will allow them to complete the adoption process. The good news is that Russian authorities have indicated that they may amend the new law to allow for U.S. families to adopt children with disabilities. Since Vitali also suffers from a disabling genetic condition, the Moyer’s may be subject to the amendment. However, many other American families may not be so lucky.
Notwithstanding the above, Putin asserts that the new law effectively reduces the ability for Americans to adopt Russian children under institutional care. Moreover, backers of the Russian law further claim that Americans are abusive of Russian adoptees, stating that since the 1990’s, approximately 19 children have died at the hands of their American adoptive parents. According to Russian officials, a prime example of the abuse of Russian adoptees comes from the story of the U.S. woman who sent her child back to Russia alone on a one-way international flight. Despite the woman’s claims that the child engaged in numerous violent outbursts, many Russians were outraged by the incident. As such, the majority of the Russian public supported Putin’s legislative efforts to end many U.S. adoptions.
In general, the law has many far reaching effects. Specifically, it:
- potentially stops U.S. adoptions currently underway;
- prevents children in need from finding a loving and supportive home;
- bans political activities by nongovernmental organizations that receive money from the U.S in the event that they affect Russian interests;
- imposes sanctions upon U.S. officials accused of committing human rights violations;
- invalidates a recent agreement between the U.S. and Russia in which they agreed to enact safeguards to protect all parties involved in international adoptions;
- envisions the creation of a list of Americans who will be banned from entering Russia and suspends the activities of any institutions or entities of which they are in control.
For more information about Russia’s new law or if you are considering the adoption of a child in Kansas, contact my office today to learn more about your rights and responsibilities.