The pressure for an agreement between the US and Russia governing international adoptions reached a peak after Torry Hansen sent her son back to Russia in April 2010 because she no longer wanted to be his parent. (FYI: Russia is now suing Ms. Hansen for child support.) Russia wanted more information on what happened to their children after adoption and the US wanted Russia to have more oversight over adoptions and agencies. Both countries have worked in the past year to develop a bilateral agreement for processing international adoptions (seven negotiations sessions) and it was just announced at the National Adoption Conference that a final agreement will be signed next week. Russia is negotiating a bilateral agreement with a number of countries, including Spain, France, Ireland, Cyprus, and the US. They already have an adoption agreement with Italy.
The state of orphans in Russia
First, a little background that was given at the National Adoption Conference by Vladimir Kabanov, Chair of the Databank Registry of Children Without Parent Supervision, Ministry of Education and Science. It appears that the numbers of Russian “orphans” are decreasing. Since 2005, there are 40,000 less identified orphans, although there are still 130,000 total Russian orphans. Russia has also made a concerted effort to move children from institutionalized care to foster care. Since 2005, orphanages have decreased by 590. There are now 1206 child welfare institutions. Since 2008, Russia has started paying monthly subsidies for foster families and lump sum payments for adoptive families. They have had success, especially for foster care. Mr. Kabanov said that he would expect that there will be fewer infants available for adoption from Russia in the future.
Mr. Kabanov said that since most of the international adoptions from Russia are to families in the US, they see most of their problems in the adoptions in the US. Of the 18 children that have been killed by their adoptive parents, 17 were adopted by American families. He expressed a frustration with the lack of post adoption information provided by adoption agencies and the US government.
What does the new agreement mean for Russian adoptions?
The bilateral adoption agreement between Russia and the US will be signed next week. At one point in his presentation, Mr. Kabanov said it would be signed by [or on] July 11, and at another point in the speech he said it would be signed between July 11 and 13. Although a copy of the final agreement hasn’t been made available yet, Mr. Kabanov said we should expect to see the following:
- Adoption agencies will have to be Hague accredited, even though Russia will not become a member of the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoption. From an adoption agency standpoint, this is a big deal since the accreditation process is timely and costly. I have been told that only two agencies that are currently authorized by Russia to place their children will be affected since all the others already have Hague accreditation.
- Stricter requirements on authorized adoption agencies, in addition to becoming Hague accredited.
- Independent adoptions (adoptions that do not use an adoption agency) will no longer be allowed.
- More required training and psychological evaluation of adoptive parents.
- More standardization on how social and health records are documented and given to adoptive parents.
- Requiring that Russia be notified if an adoption dissolves or disrupts.
Adoption agencies that are already authorized/licensed by Russia, will have 60 days to comply with the new regulations or their accreditation will be revoked and they will have to reapply. During those 60 days, they can continue to place children for adoption from Russia.
Image credit: Rdoke