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U.S. Senators Appeal Russian Adoption Ban



The State Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates between 350 and 500 adoptions involving Russian children and American families were in the pipeline prior to Russia’s ban.

Louisiana’s two U.S. senators are appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse his country’s ban on adoptions by American families.

The ban that took effect Jan. 1 is keeping Russian children and their would-be adoptive families in limbo.

Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter are also urging President Barack Obama to get involved.

Landrieu, a New Orleans Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, said it is not fair to American families who were already in the midst of a Russian adoption.

“The U.S. families matched with these children already love them like their own and have invested a great deal of time and resources in pursuit of a final adoption,” she said.

Landrieu, who has three adopted children of her own, said an agreement needs to be reached with Russia, which has in recent years enjoyed a strong relationship with the U.S. in terms of international adoptions.

The State Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services estimates between 350 and 500 adoptions involving Russian children and American families were in the pipeline prior to Russia’s ban.

Each year, American families open their homes to about 1,000 Russian children through adoption.

In a letter cosigned by Landrieu and Vitter, the American and Russian presidents are urged “to look beyond politics and see the people this law most directly affects.”

Landrieu pointed out that Russia’s own Ministry of Science and Education estimates that 110,000 children in Russia live in institutions, many of whom have special needs that many orphanages cannot adequately address.

Long-term institutionalization has been proven to lead to neurological and emotional difficulties in children, she said.

Over the weekend, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told CNN that an agreement with the U.S. is not unlikely.

The Russian ban is known as the Dima Yakovlev law, in honor of an adopted child with the American name of Chase Harrison, and whose adoptive father from Washington left him in a hot car. The child died of heatstroke.

Russian officials have used the ban as a way of encouraging its citizens to adopt more native infants and children.

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