By Dale Eldridge, LICSW, BCD

Former RNE Board Member Dale Eldridge shares her professional insights on this developing story out of Russia.

Moscow, Russia. Photo by Pavel via Flickr.

Moscow, Russia. Photo by Pavel via Flickr.

What Does the Ban Mean?

On Thursday, December 27, 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he intends to sign into law a bill that would ban adoptions of Russian children by American citizens. This ban was unanimously approved by the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament on Wednesday, December 26, 2012. The ban is included in a Russian law that is designed to retaliate against the U.S. due to a recently enacted U.S. law which punishes Russians who are accused of human rights violations.

The ban is scheduled to take effect on Tuesday, January 1, 2013, rendering void the recently enacted bilateral agreement on adoptions, between the U.S. and Russia. It is expected that the impact of this ban will immediately be felt by the families who are close to the completion of the adoption of at least 46 children. The reality is that there are likely to be as many as 250 families, who have already identified a child they hope to adopt, affected by this ban.

What If We Have a Russian Adoption in Progress?

At this point, nobody knows for sure just exactly what this ban effectively means for people whose adoptions from Russia are in progress. If you are in that position, you should be in contact directly with your international placement agency, although their information may be quite limited as this story is unfolding. Families who are currently in the process of adopting a child from Russia are also encouraged to reach out to the Department of State at [email protected] for further information. Use the subject line “Intercountry Adoption in Russia – Family Update.”

What If We Were Considering a Russian Adoption?

It is likely that all or most adoption agencies with Russian programs will be forced to impose a moratorium on new applications at least until the implications of this ban become clearer. For now, it would be wise to revise your plan and consider either a domestic adoption or an adoption from a country that still participates in international adoptions with the U.S.

It is still possible to adopt internationally, although the number of sending countries has declined in recent years. The profile of the children from abroad who are available for adoption has also changed, in that these children are increasingly likely to be older than three years and/or presenting with medical special needs. Some countries that are open to adoptions with Americans are: China, Ethiopia, Korea, Colombia, and Costa Rica. Many agencies also offer pilot programs in some countries where they are trying to establish reliable programs. Countries such as Bulgaria, Burundi, and Congo are among those that are developing pilot programs with some U.S. agencies.

What Does This Ban Mean for International Adoption?

Clearly this ban constitutes a major blow to the families who await the completion of their adoptions as well as to anyone who is beginning the process. For the former group, who were already envisioning their lives with a specific child, the loss is unspeakable. Although it is too early to know with any certainty whether this ban will permanently dash their hopes, the early indications are very discouraging. As indicated earlier, it is still possible to adopt internationally, but the numbers of such adoptions have declined dramatically since the peak, in 2004, and it appears that this trend will only continue.

Going forward, the overall trend is such that people who are interested in adopting internationally will need to be open to a transracial adoption of an older child and/or one with medical special needs. This can still result in good options for some people as they present a rich source of opportunity for prospective parents and, most significantly, for children who deserve a permanent, loving family.

For more information and resources related to adoption, please visit our Adoption page here.

About the Author

Dale Eldridge, LICSW, BCD is the Coordinator of Adoptive Parent Services at Adoption Choices, a licensed adoption agency, in Framingham, Massachusetts.

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