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State Duma considers softening ban on US adoptions – paper

State Duma considers softening ban on US adoptions – paper
Several Russian MPs have suggested in press comments that the Dima Yakovlev Law could be amended so that mixed Russian-American couples get the right to adopt Russian orphans.

During the fall session the Lower House will discuss and decide on making mixed marriages in which one of the spouses is Russian and the other American an exception, the deputy head of the family and children committee MP Irina Sokolova (United Russia) told Izvestia daily.

MP Igor Zotov of the independent caucus supported the idea and said that it was possible to allow adoption by such couples of Russian kids, but Russia must have the right to check both the moral qualities of the would-be adoptive parents and the conditions that they offer to their would-be adoptee.

Yelena Afanasyeva (Liberal-Democratic Party) said that the adoptions by Russian-US families should be allowed only on condition that the adopted child retains Russian citizenship until the age of 18 (which is legal adulthood in Russia). The politician said that this is necessary so that Russia could help its children in extraordinary situations.

The comments came less than a week after the Lower House speaker Sergey Naryshkin announced that no changes were planned in the so called Dima Yakovlev Law – the act that bans adoptions of Russian children by US citizens or by proxy US organizations and also introduces sanctions on US citizens and officials suspected of human rights violations. The law was passed in December last year as a reply to US Magnitsky act and caused serious controversy in Russia and abroad.

The sponsors of the bill pointed at cases of cruel treatment and even manslaughter of adopted Russian children in the US, and at the US authorities’ unwillingness to cooperate with Russian diplomats and law enforcers in such cases. The opponents of the rule said it would deprive thousands of children, many of them sick or disabled, of a chance to find new families across the ocean. The US authorities acknowledged the problem of limited access to the adopted kids but blamed the particularities in state and federal laws which they refused to change.

This year, the State Duma applied additional limitations to the law on adoptions, banning it for same sex foreign couples, and suggesting to ban it also for single foreigners from countries where same sex marriage is legal.

At the same time, Russia introduced several rules that improve domestic adoptions and increase state aid to foster families.

Some activists from Russian non-governmental groups have already approved the planned possible changes to the Dima Yakovlev law. Olga Kostina of the Resistance rights movement said that such steps would restore the international trust in Russia and added that this should be made a priority in parliamentarians’ work.

Shortly after the news was published MP Olga Batalina told reporters that she and her colleagues did not see any reason for reconsidering the adoptions ban as it already covered all possible situations including the adoption by a Russian-US family. She said that such couples will be able to adopt if they live in Russia and have all the papers to prove it, including a work permit.

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