Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 84

New directives issued by the Russian government to regulate the adoption of Russian children by foreign nationals has resulted in general dismay. The regulations are already in force but are not yet widely accessible to the public. There are reports that prospective foreign adoptive parents have already been refused permission to proceed with adoptions in the Kurgan, Ivanovo, Stavropol and Irkutsk Regions, and in the Jewish Autonomous Region (Reuters, Itar-Tass, April 21; Moscow Times, April 22).

The authorities say that their concern is to prevent abuses by middlemen who have reportedly been “selling” Russian babies to foreigners for sums of up to US$20,000. The issue is an emotive one and has been used by nationalist politicians to stir up popular sentiment.

As far as can be ascertained at present, the new regulations mean that foreigners will be allowed to adopt children only if their country’s government has concluded a bilateral agreement about adoption with the Russian government and only through adoption agencies accredited in both countries. The regulations seem sensible; the problem is that they have been introduced without warning, leaving prospective parents bewildered and unsure of the status of adoption procedures they have already launched. Adoption agencies have not been told what they must do to obtain accreditation, and some fear that it may be months before they will secure registration and be able to resume work (Sunday Times [London], April 23).