Monday, July 18, 2011

Russia-US Adoption Agreement Will Subject US Adoption Agencies to Decision Making Process at Russian Ministry of Education

The information in this blog post is no longer current for adoption procedures, but is maintained here for historical interest only!!

According to the USCIS and US Department of State, the Russia-US adoption agreement signed on July 13, 2011 by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterpart in Russia, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, foresees US adoption agencies being subject to the approval of the Russian Ministry of Education before they can continue to work in Russia. The Ministry of Education currently approves Russian domestic adoption agencies. Some have expressed concern that US entities will not be playing on an entirely even field there. (See Voice of America’s report of the Russian press conference presided over by Clinton and Lavrov, in Russian,, July 14, 2011.) Russia government has a bad reputation for corruption and bribe taking. (Corruption Perceptions Index).  A July 14, 2011 Voice of America reporter claimed that the number of US adoption agencies working in Russia will be reduced threefold from 67.

The Department of State’s new “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs: Bilateral Adoption Agreement with Russia, July 13, 2011) states that they will provide the Russian Ministry of Education with their list of US adoption service providers accredited in the US to provide services under The Hague Convention on intercountry adoption, to which the US became a member in 2007. The Department of State will not otherwise make any recommendations about adoption agencies to Russia.
On the phone call held by USCIS and US Department of State on July 14, 2011, a member of one US adoption agency mentioned “black listing” that had occurred arbitrarily against US adoption brokers in Russia. She also mentioned a rumor that US passports were being issued to adoptees in the US Embassy in Moscow. This rumor was emphatically denied by Mike Regan of the US Department of State.

A representative on the phone call from the Office of the Legal Adviser of the Department of State is looking into whether the Clinton-Lavrov agreement can be published to give US adoption agencies working in Russia more of a heads up as to what their new requirements for working in Russia will be. Meanwhile, US adoption agencies may want to look to requirements for domestic Russian adoption agencies under Ministry of Education regulations. The Clinton-Lavrov pact must be ratified by the Russian legislature, the Duma, before it goes into effect in Russia. From the point, US adoption agencies will have 60 days wait for the Ministry of Education to put out regulations listing the new requirements and application procedures. The Ministry of Education anticipates a 30 day decision making process before a license is given under the new regulations.

Stakeholders participating on the phone call with the USCIS and US Department of State included staff from Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption - FRUA; Michael Goldstein, Attorney; All G-d’s Children International; Global Adoption Service; Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program -CAP; Adoption Ark; and Adoption Associates Inc. -AAI .

Chavin Immigration Law Office offers legal advice and assistance on Russia and international adoption.


Erin Siegel, US Signs Adoption Agreement with Russia, Finding Fernanda blog.

Michael Schwirtz, Pact on Adoptions Ends a U.S.-Russian Dispute, NYT, July 13, 2011 .

Россия и США заключили соглашение об усыновлении детей, RIA Novosti ( Trudnoie det’stvo), July 7, 2011.

Kak usynovit’ rebionka, Graphic in Russian on the procedure for adopting a child in Russia for citizens of Russia, under Russian family law.

Intercountry Adoption, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Department of State. Country Specific Alert regarding Russia, July 13, 2011.