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Americans barred from adopting Russian children

Illinois families hoping to adopt a child faced a setback when the state went head-to-head with Catholic Charities in 2011 over adopting to same-sex couples. Now, families hoping for a child from Russia have had that door slammed shut as well.

The lower house of the Russian parliament passed a law banning U.S. families from adopting children from that country just before Christmas. The vote was not even a close one: 420 to 7, with one abstention. Initially, President Vladimir Putin's position on the ban was not known. After the upper house approved the bill, though, Putin signed it into law.

Proponents of the ban say the law is a direct response to a new U.S. law that prohibits Russians accused of human rights abuses from entering this country. Putin commented that Russian children should be cared for in and by Russia. Opponents in both countries say the issues are unrelated.

For about 1,500 families whose adoptions are already underway, there is one ray of hope. In anticipation of the ban, Russia and the United States signed an agreement in November that allows for a one-year transition period. All that remains is for the Russian government to hold up its part of the bargain.

In a nation of 142 million people, more than 650,000 Russian children are classified as "orphans." The number is not limited to children without parents; included are children whose parents have given them up by choice and by law. The government estimates that 110,000 kids were living in state institutions in 2011. Last year, 962 of those children found homes in the U.S.; in the past dozen years or so, Americans have adopted 45,000 Russian boys and girls.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Shock, heartbreak for U.S. families adopting Russian children," Corrie MacLaggan, Dec. 28, 2012

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