Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on Dec. 28 to ban American parents from adopting Russian children, even if they have already begun the lengthy approval process. Now the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that at least five Alaska families will suffer the consequence of the ban.
In the last two decades, American families have adopted more than 60,000 Russian-born children, although U.S. adoption of Russian children has declined in recent years due to stricter regulations and fee hikes.
Families in Alaska's Interior adopt an average of two Russian children a year. Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption was facilitating one Interior family's adoption at the time the ban was enacted, freezing the process.
Melody Jamieson, a coordinator at Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption, told the News-Miner that the family "had put a lot of work into (the adoption) and counted on it pretty heavily." She added, that despite the looming ban, the family was still hopeful.
In Anchorage, Catholic Social Service was assisting another four families. In one case, the family had already been introduced to their at-the-time child-to-be. All four families' adoption process has been halted under the ban, which went into effect on Jan. 1.
Ellen Lawlor Krsnak, director of community relations and advocacy for Catholic Social Services, is concerned about the ban. Krsnak told the News-Miner, "We're very concerned about this legislation … children growing up in orphanages is not good for their development."
UNICEF estimates that 740,000 Russian children are not in parental care -- but only 18,000 Russians are waiting to adopt parentless children.
The adoption ban is being called "retaliation" for legislation that bars Russians involved in human rights abuse cases from entering the United States.