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Russia's lower parliament has ratified an agreement with the US regulating the adoption of Russian children. The deal ends years of disputes over adoption between Russian and American officials and will make the process of adopting Russian children more efficient for American families.
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The agreement imposes stricter regulations on the adoption process, addressing the concerns of many Russians who believed adopted children were being abused or otherwise mistreated in the US.
Russian concerns were not unfounded. Last month Russian government officials and a Moscow television crew exposed a ranch in Montana that was home to two-dozen unwanted Russian children who had been adopted by American parents.
The issue reached a nadir in 2010 when 7-year-old Artyom Savelyev was sent back to Russia with a one-way ticket and a note from his American adoptive mother, who said she couldn't care for him because of behavioral issues. This prompted Russian officials to call for an end to American adoptions of Russian children. Adoptions did not end, but some adoption agencies experienced significant delays in the adoption process.
American adoption of Russian children is a sensitive issue for many Russians because the country faces a demographic crisis due to low birth rates. However, according to UNICEF, more than 740,000 children are living without parental custody in Russia. Adoption is historically less common in Russia as in many other countries.