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Hope for pending adoptions? Russian ban won't take effect right away

Russian Orphans - 4

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Orphan children at the Nelidovo Rehabilitation Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities in Russia.

The Russian goverment has announced that its new ban on adoptions to the United States from that country won't take effect for a year. And while the U.S. State Department has yet to post updated details on its adoptions page, adoption experts are trying to make sense of what the delay means for would-be adoptive parents. 

Russia is one of the top three nations from which Americans adopt children. At the end of December, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed the ban into lawObservers expected it to take effect soon afterward, leaving adoptions in progress up in the air. Now, the Russian government says it won't enact the ban for another year.

The two countries maintain a bilateral adoption agreement, and it does require a year's notice before either government can withdraw from it. But public reaction has also likely played a part, said Tifany Markee, an immigration attorney in San Diego who handles international adoptions.


How the new Russian adoption ban affects US families

Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

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.