WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help Rhode Island families impacted by a new Russian law banning Americans from adopting Russian children, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is urging President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure all pending adoptions can be completed. While the ban is not effective until 2014, Senator Reed does not think that delay is sufficient because the complex adoption process can take much longer than one year.
Today, Reed, along with several colleagues sent a letter to President Obama urging him to engage with Russia on this issue and request that Russia allow the completion of adoption cases in which Russian children have already met and been matched with U.S. families. Reed is urging Russia to reverse the U.S. adoption ban and also sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him also ensure all pending adoptions that have begun the process can be completed.
“It is heartbreaking to think that thousands of children will be denied loving homes and prospective parents who are already committed to these kids won’t be able to adopt them because of political conflicts,” said Reed. “The international adoption process can take years, with families making multiple overseas trips and complying with all the appropriate rules. I strongly urge the Russian government to do what is best for these children, some of whom are in orphanages with less than ideal conditions. They should be allowed to join the American families that already love them and are anxiously awaiting the chance to bring them home. I urge Russia to reverse the U.S. adoption ban and also ensure all pending adoptions that have begun the process can be completed.”
In June 2012, Russia’s parliament voted 244-96-2 to ratify a long-awaited agreement with the United States regulating the adoption of Russian children by Americans. But in December of 2012, Congress passed, as part of a larger trade bill, a human rights law known as the Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which imposes financial sanctions and a visa ban on Russians who committed human rights violations. The law is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer and auditor who died while in prison awaiting trial. Mr. Magnitsky had discovered a $230 million tax fraud being carried out by Russian interior ministry officials and was arrested after accusing the officials. He was killed while awaiting trial and his body showed signs of torture, but to date, no one in Russia has been brought to justice for the crime.
Soon thereafter, on December 28, 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. Russian officials previously claimed the bill Putin signed would take effect this year. However, the adoption agreement signed by both countries in June must run until January 2014 because it states the agreement must remain active for one year after either of the parties chooses to end it.
On January 1, 2013, Reed supported a bipartisan resolution condemning President Putin’s ban on the adoptions of Russian children by American families, which unanimously passed the U.S. Senate.
This past weekend, thousands of Russians protesting the anti-orphan U.S. adoption ban defied freezing weather to march through central Moscow in a rally organizers dubbed the “March Against Scoundrels.”