[JURIST] The Russian Duma [official website, in Russian] on Tuesday ratified an agreement with the US related to adoption of Russian children by Americans. In a 244-96-2 vote, the nation’s legislature agreed to ratify [WP report] the agreement [materials, in Russian] a year after the two countries agreed to sign. Russian officials have reported the abuse and killings of Russian children by adoptive US parents, deepening tension between the two countries. The incident in which a Tennessee woman placed her adopted seven-year-old Russian boy on a plane back to Russia with a note stating that she could not parent him anymore led [NYT report] the Russian government to ban all child adoptions by US citizens. After discussions between officials from both countries, they were able to come to an agreement. With the ratification, it is expected that the ban will be lifted and adoption will again be made available to US citizens. Adoptions will be processed through agencies that are registered in Russia, and the agencies are required to monitor the adoption process as well as conduct scheduled visits. Russia has been the third leading source of adoptive children in the US following China and Ethiopia.
In February, the country’s Foreign Ministry [official website] had announced [USA Today report] that it will ask the government to suspend adoptions of Russian children by US citizens following discoveries that at least 17 children have died due to violence by their American families. It stated that the ban should be only lifted if an effective reporting mechanism is in place. In 2011, a couple in Pennsylvania were sentenced [NYT report] to four years in prison for involuntary manslaughter after the jury acquitted the murder charges against them but held them negligent and responsible for the death of their adopted seven-year-old Russian son. The Russian government heavily criticized the sentence for being too lenient and unjust. In August 2011, an Alaskan woman was convicted [Huffington Post report] of child abuse for pouring hot sauce into the mouth of her adopted Russian son.