MOSCOW — Russia's parliament on Tuesday ratified a long-awaited agreement with the United States regulating the adoption of Russian children by Americans.
The ratification by a 244-96-2 vote in the State Duma came a year after the two countries worked out the pact.
Russia has been a major source of adopted children in the U.S. for two decades.
In the 2011 fiscal year, Russia was the third-largest source of foreign adoption by Americans with 970 adoptions, trailing China and Ethiopia.
Adoptions from Russia peaked in 2004 at 5,862 adoptions, according to the State Department.
Russian officials had long complained about the abuse and even killings of children by their adoptive parents — saying at least 19 Russian adoptive children have died at their American parents' hands.
The issue came to a head in April 2010 when an American adoptive mother sent her 7-year-old boy back to Russia on a one-way ticket, saying he had behavioral problems.
In the wake of that case, some Russian officials called for adoptions by Americans to be halted altogether. That never happened, but some adoption agencies working in Russia said their applications were frozen for several months.
Russian and U.S. officials signed an agreement aimed at ending the dispute in 2011, but the Russian parliament waited nearly a year to ratify it due to technicalities.
IMPACT FOR AMERICANS
Ratification should end the strife and allow adoptions to resume efficiently.
All adoptions would have to be processed through adoption agencies registered in Russia. The agreement requires the agencies to monitor the child's upbringing, schedule visits by a social worker and send reports to Russian authorities.
The deal makes sure that prospective American parents would have better information about the social and medical histories of Russian children.
IMPACT FOR RUSSIANS
By providing monitoring, the agreement is likely to reassure a public angered by the abuse and deaths.
The poorly controlled flow of Russian adoptions highlighted sensitivity over the loss of children as Russia faces a demographic crisis due to low birth rates.
Full resumption of adoptions will mean increased opportunity for Russian orphans to leave underfunded and crowded orphanages. There are more than 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to UNICEF.
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