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How the new Russian adoption ban affects US families

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Children play in an orphanage in Moscow. Russian president Vladimir Putin has just signed a law that bans further adoptions of Russian children by families in the United States.

Now that Russian president Vladimir Putin has signed a bill banning Russian adoptions to the United States, the implications for hopeful adoptive parents are enormous. Russia is one of the top three foreign countries from which American families adopt children.

The measure is named for Dima Yakovlev, a Russian-born toddler who died in 2008 after his American adoptive father left him in an overheated car. Observers regarded it as a punitive step in retaliation for a new U.S. trade law that denies visas to Russians involved in the 2009 murder of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian anti-corruption attorney, and any others believed to have violated human rights or defrauded the Russian government.

What happens next? While the most immediate impact will be to a reported 46 American families who are in the later stages of adopting a Russian child, and an estimated 1,500 more who have begun the process, it also affects would-be adoptive parents who have yet to get started.