Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today joined an effort to help American families finish the process of adopting Russian children.
In a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, initiated by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (D-PA) and signed by 46 House Republicans and Democrats, the lawmakers requested that children with immediate opportunities to join American families be allowed to do so.
Last month, Putin signed the Dima Takovlev Law, which bans US-Russian adoptions and contradicts the November 2012 bilateral adoption agreement between the United States and Russia. Hundreds of American families were in the process of adopting some of Russia's 110,000 orphans when the law was passed on January 1, 2013.
"Russia and the United States have the opportunity to work together to ensure that children -- including special needs children -- are moved from institutionalized care to family care," the lawmakers wrote. "We hope that the freeze on new adoptions will be short Most of all, we respectfully request that the Yakovlev law not be applied to the children who have an immediate opportunity to join loving families in the United States."
The full text of the letter is below.
His Excellency Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
We write to you today out of concern that the recent Dima Yakovlev Law may be applied to American-Russian adoptions already in process in Russia, causing the orphans to experience abandonment once again and depriving them of the home environment needed by every child. As you know, the human instinct for compassion and for acting in the best interest of children knows no national boundaries. Loving adoptive parents who search for orphans--including special needs orphans with Down's Syndrome and HIV--exist in every country, but are vastly outnumbered by the orphans in need of parents. A number of American families have offered Russian children immediate homes and we strongly hope for the completion of those adoptions already initiated.
Many of the children potentially affected by the Yakovlev Law last saw their American adoptive parents just weeks or months ago and were left with hugs, kisses, and the promise that their new parents would be coming to take them home soon. Orphans need to be in families as soon as possible. Child development experts indicate that for every month a child spends in institutional care, the child's development is delayed by three months. For orphans with special needs who require expensive surgeries in the early years of their lives in order to survive, delay in adoption could be deadly. As time is of the essence, we urge you to exempt from the Yakovlev Law those orphans and American families who already have initiated the adoption process.
Russia, the United States, and the international community stand united against child abuse and child neglect. Russia and the United States have the opportunity to work together to ensure that children--including special needs children--are moved from institutional care to family care. We hope that the freeze on new adoptions will be short and that Russia will rejoin the November 2012 bilateral agreement on adoption that was negotiated in response to Russia's concerns regarding orphan's best interest following the Dima Yakovlev tragedy. Most of all, we respectfully request that the Yakovlev Law not be applied to the children who have an immediate opportunity to join loving families in the United States.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Member of Congress
Member of Congress