Russia renews adoption agencies' licenses
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By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
Russia has reopened its doors to Americans who want to adopt children, re-accrediting seven adoption agencies based in the USA.
Licenses granted in the past two weeks will enable the agencies to resume helping Americans adopt from among the 700,000 Russian children in orphanages, says Lee Allen, spokesman for the private National Council For Adoption.
As many as 44 American agencies had been working in Russia, he says.
"This is the first positive movement we've seen in a long time," Allen says. "We're very encouraged by it."
Russia has been a top destination for Americans seeking to adopt foreign children, ranking third behind China and Guatemala in 2006, according to the State Department.
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Last year, 3,706 Russian adoptees came to the USA, a decline from a peak of 5,865 in 2004.
The number of adoptions began slowing last year as the annual licenses of American agencies started to expire.
The last two licenses expired in April, according to the website of Russia's Washington, D.C., embassy.
The agencies applied for renewal as Russia implemented tighter rules.
Most adoptions were put on hold, although some independently arranged ones proceeded.
"Many thousands of kids may have lost their opportunity" to be adopted when licenses expired, Allen says.
The new licenses have no expiration date but can be reconsidered at any time.
The Russian government did not respond to requests for comment.
"We have some people who've been waiting" to adopt, says John Bentz, president of International Assistance Group in Oakmont, Pa., one of the first seven American adoption agencies to win reapproval. "It will take some time."
"There are plenty of kids who need homes," says Joan Jaeger, spokeswoman for The Cradle in Evanston, Ill., one of the agencies re-accredited.
She says placing a child with an American family can take up to a year. She says the cost is comparable to domestic adoption: about $30,000, including two trips to Russia.
The other agencies re-accredited are Cradle of Hope in Silver Spring, Md.; The Frank Adoption Center in Raleigh, N.C.; Family and Children's Agency in Norwalk, Conn; Catholic Social Services, which is nationwide; and Children's Home Society & Family Services in St. Paul.
Posted 18h 22m ago