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.