May 12th, 2010
10:28 AM ET

Official: U.S.-Russia adoption agreement to be finalized

A draft agreement on international adoptions between the United States and Russia will be finalized by Friday, Moscow's children's rights commissioner said Wednesday.

After it is finalized, the agreement will be forwarded to the Russian Health and Education ministries and the Cabinet of Ministers, said the commissioner, Pavel Astakhov. If approved by the Cabinet, a signing date will be scheduled, he said. The final copy would be signed by Russia's Education Ministry and the U.S. State Department or Department of Justice, he added.

Under the proposed agreement, the number of U.S. adoption agencies dealing with Russian children will be diminished, he said.

"We will reduce the number of U.S. adoption agencies accredited in Russia," Astakhov said. Only those agencies that are accredited in the United States and compliant with the requirements of the Hague convention on international adoptions will be allowed to continue working in Russia, he said.

In addition, he said, "independent adoptions" will be abolished altogether. The draft agreement envisions setting up a joint Russian-American body with the authority to check out any U.S. family adopting a Russian child, Astakhov said.

High-level meetings between the two nations on adoptions followed an uproar after a Tennessee woman sent the young Russian boy she had recently adopted back to Russia unaccompanied. Artyem Saveliev, who was then 7, carried a letter to the Russian Ministry of Education from his adoptive mother saying he was "mentally unstable" and was violent with "severe psychopathic issues/behaviors."

The draft agreement stipulates that the two countries should coordinate and sign it within the next two months, Astakhov said. The two countries do not disagree over the agreement, but a number of details are still being hammered out, he said.

A senior State Department official said last week that Russian authorities continue to approve U.S. adoptions despite some public sentiment there to call for a complete halt. The official insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. But he said one possible provision of a new U.S.-Russia agreement would allow earlier and more frequent sharing of information both before and after adoptions. He said that some American couples don't see details of a child's medical and psychological condition until a court appearance for final adoption approval.

- CNN's Charley Keyes contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Adoption • Russia • U.S.
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. K.C.

    @heyder: Do you know the amount of crack babies born here? There are ways to screen for FAS prior to adoption of a child, you just have to be willing to part with some money to hire a specialist to do it. And I don't believe the US allows international adoptions. The parents must be residents here.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. heyder

    most of the social programs serve the elderly. they need to take a closer look at this structured view.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. K.C.

    @sonas76, most agencies are non-profits. They don't make a lot of profits, and in fact the last time Russian adoptions were put on hold, our original agency went under. They just couldn't get funding to remain in business. But luckily they were able to arrange for the families already in the process to move to another agency to complete the adoption when things opened back up. They do not make a ton of money all that they do.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. heyder

    you don't have to hire a specialist, just assume if you adopt from russian the chance of getting a child with FAS goes up tenfold.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. K.C.

    @Allison: First off, I'm the mother of a child adopted from Russia, and I can tell you this woman had plenty of options available other than what she did. Furthermore, I have never heard anyone but the grandmother and mother say he was violent, and that was to justify their ludicrous actions. If she had indeed been at the end of her rope, tried everything available (which I find extremely difficult to believe, knowing personally what IS available to adoptive parents) she could have requested a disruption of the adoption. That way the child could have found new adoptive parents here who were better equiped mentally and financially to deal with whatever issues he might have had. There is ABSOLUTELY NO justification for sending a child back alone on a 7,000 trip. It is inexcusable and they should both be prosecuted. I'm terribly disappointed that the sherrif refuses to do anything. Maybe this time it SHOULD be turned over to the Russian authorities. Their actions are an absolute outrage.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. K.C.

    @heyder, exactly where to your stats come from? Have you ever looked into adoption here? Do you know what the stats are for the US for adopted children? Doubtful. It is a part a responsible adoptive parent to have their child screened, if for no other reason than to be prepared for any services they may need upon bringing them home, no matter WHAT country they come from. If you were really an adoptive parent, you'd know that and you wouldn't be spouting off made up statistics.

    May 12, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. heyder

    50% of them have FAS

    May 12, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  8. K.C.

    Really? Your source for that information was? Is that from the population of children adopted each year, or from the population of orphans in Russia as a whole? And by the way, that's not tenfold. If you were semi-intelligent, you could to the math.

    It is a MYTH, perpetuated by uninformed individuals like you, that most children adopted from Russia have FAS. In fact, it is a relatively low percentage, around 4%. Compare it with drug abused babies adopted in the US and the numbers are quite similar. What is much more common is RAD, which is an attachment disorder brought on by long term living in an orphanage setting. These kids do not have the same relationships with adults that children born into a family do, and they just don't know how to deal with it when they first join a family. That's why they need help, especially when they are older than two or three. It takes time, it takes patience, neither of which this woman had.

    May 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lum

    I am adopting a beautiful, healthy baby from American foster care and it's not costing me a cent. In fact the state is paying me to take care of the child's needs during the process; I don't have to spend $40,000 in fees and travel halfway around the world to take a chance on a child whose background I know nothing about. It's a fallacy that you must go abroad to have a decent adoption. The only difference is the lengthy process American courts must go through to terminate the birthparents' rights, which takes quite a bit of time but I doubt much more than the waiting period to be matched with a child abroad. Especially a 7-year old child like this one...there are numerous 7-year old children available from American foster care. Nothing against anyone who adopts abroad, but to me it doesn't make sense when this free option is available and the risks are just the same.

    May 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  10. K.C.

    It's rather quick to adopt a 7 year old from abroad, which is probably why this lady went that route. In fact, it's still faster than it is to adopt from the foster program in the states. The problem most people have with adopting here, other than the length of time it often takes (depending on what state you reside in) is that parental rights issue.

    May 12, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
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