April 17th, 2010
09:57 PM ET

Flight disruptions could delay U.S.-Russia adoption talks

A meeting between U.S. and Russian officials over the newly charged issue of American adoptions of Russian children, scheduled for Monday, will likely be delayed, officials in both countries signaled Saturday.

The U.S. delegation is delayed in getting to Moscow because of flight disruptions due to an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano. The ash has triggered the cancellation of thousands of international flights in recent days.

"The party is holding in Toronto (Canada) due to flight disruptions," State Department spokesman Darby Holladay told CNN on Saturday. "Like many, they await resumption of air travel."

Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak told CNN earlier Saturday that "technical problems seem to be standing in the way from (U.S. officials) coming to Moscow tomorrow or the day after tomorrow."

The State Department had announced the meeting on Friday.

Moscow has sent mixed signals on adoptions recently, following the uproar over a Tennessee woman sending home a 7-year-old Russian boy she had adopted.

Kislyak said that U.S. and Russian officials are continuing talks on the matter and sounded upbeat about progress. "We are getting signals from our American colleagues that they understand the issue needs to be dealt with," he said.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman announced Thursday that Moscow had put an end to the adoption of children by American families until rules covering them can be hashed out with U.S. officials.

"Further adoptions of Russian children by the American citizens, which at present has been suspended, will only be possible in case such an agreement is reached," said the spokesman, Andrei Nesterenko.

But Kislyak appeared to soften that line on Saturday. Asked whether adoptions by Americans are currently frozen, he said that "adoption is a process by each and every kid and it takes time. So we'll see how things will develop."

"We're insisting on freezing this unless we have a legal framework negotiated with the United States that provides protection for the people," Kislyak said.

On Friday, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley seemed unsure about the state of adoptions from Russia.

"I don't think the system has stopped," Crowley said. "It is very possible the system is slowing down as we work through these issues."

Crowley had said that a U.S. delegation from State and the Department of Homeland Security would travel to Moscow this weekend to meet Russian officials on Monday.

Officials at private U.S. adoption agencies say families trying to adopt Russian children are deeply concerned by the current uncertainty. Janice Goldwater, who runs a Silver Spring, Maryland, agency called Adoptions Together, said she is working with two dozen families trying to finalize Russian adoptions.

"I know families that were about to get on an airplane, have court dates scheduled, and they don't know if they should be crying, or dancing with relief," Goldwater told CNN in a telephone interview. "What should I do, should I be finishing the nursery, getting the toddler toys or should I be keeping myself safe and protected by doing nothing?

"So it is a very difficult time for families," Goldwater said.

On Friday, the United States said some U.S. adoptions were still being acted on in Russia.

"There are cases that are still moving forward. There are cases that have been postponed. Does this represent a blanket suspension - the answer is 'no,'" Crowley said at his Friday afternoon briefing.

"Does this mean there could be some instances where cases are held up for a period of time as we try to clarify what's happening and see if we can strengthen the processes that are in place - yes, there well may be delays," Crowley said.

"The Russians have mentioned to us they want to reach a bilateral agreement, Crowley said. "We share the same objective to find improved ways to process these adoptions while making sure these adoptions move forward so we will see what this meeting produces next week."

- CNN's Jeff Simon and Charley Keyes contributed to this report.

Post by:
Filed under: Adoption • Russia • U.S. • World
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.