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Russia threat to halt foreign orphan adoptions

Russia is threatening to stop adoptions of orphans overseas, unless it can agree a deal about terms with the US.

The two nations yesterday (Monday) held a third round of talks on a joint child adoption agreement in Washington.

The first talks were held in Moscow this spring after Russia put a freeze on US adoptions when an American mother sent her seven year-old adoptive son back to Russia on his own.

But Russia still has hundreds of thousands of orphans who desperately need a family, so it is trying to thrash out an agreement that will ensure adoptions can be monitored.

Russia's child welfare watchdog Pavel Astakhov said: "We do not know about over 240 children who were adopted in

Russia and went to the US. We have lost track of them because agencies didn't give us any reports which they should have done."

The country now has more orphans, than it did at the end of World War II, when about 25 million Russians were killed.

Most of its 73,000 orphans are called 'social orphans', which means that their parents are still alive but do not want to or cannot care for them. About a third of Russia’s adoptions are from abroad.

Canadian Rob Ewert who has adopted a Girl from Russia argues that halting foreign adoptions would be a devastating move for Russia's orphans.

"It concerns me - the first thing it will hurt is the children themselves,” he told Sky news. “I'm hoping that they work out an agreement and get things back on track."

The percentage of children who are classed as orphans is four to five times higher in Russia than in Europe or the United States. Of those, 30 per cent live in orphanages. Most of them are children who have been either given up by their parents or removed from dysfunctional homes by the authorities.

Russia’s orphanage system has long resisted reform. Over the years, plans to reduce the system’s size — the deinstitutionalisation that happened decades ago elsewhere — have gone nowhere.

The Russian and US presidents will meet at the end of the month.

The primary goal, said, Ms Slusareva, director of the country’s Orphanage No 11, should be to find good homes for the children — preferably in Russia, but if not there, then elsewhere.

“The hardest thing is when a child asks, ‘When will a mama come for me?’” she told The New York Times. “So the best moment for me is when a child leaves the orphanage with a family.

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