Russia and U.S Sign Agreement To Expedite, Safeguard International Adoptions
Russian President Putin has signed into law a new bilateral adoption agreement with the United States that will help expedite and improve inter-country adoption processes and add safeguards that protect adopted children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Both countries are now working expeditiously to implement the agreement, which may result in an increased number of international adoptions.
Between 1999 and 2011, Russia ranked second behind China in the number of adoptions by U.S. couples. In that time, 45,112 Russian children were adopted to the U.S.
Signed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the new agreement applies to children up to the age of 18 and only covers adoptions in which both adoptive spouses (or the individual, if unmarried) “have seen or observed the child in person prior to adoption and personally participated in the decision-making procedures by the court issuing the adoption decree.”
Other changes mandated by the agreement include:
- Russia will no longer permit independent adoptions except those done by relatives.
- As a part of a “pre-approval” step, adoptive parents may be required to fill out a USCIS Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relativebefore beginning the adoption process.
- Prospective U.S. adoptive parents may be required to complete training to ensure they are properly matched to a child’s special needs; They will receive all available information on a child’s social and medical history prior to the adoption process.
- Post-adoption, adoptive parents are required to register the child with the Russian Embassy or local U.S. Consulate and work with their adoption agencies to comply with reporting requirements.
While Form I-600 does not require notarization, clients may be required to submit additional support documents, such as affidavits, that must be notarized. Proper notarization on supplementary documents can prove critical to successful international adoptions.