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U.S. Families Stunned By Russia's Ban On Adoptions

Children at an orphanage in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don earlier this month.
Vladimir Konstantinov
Reuters /Landov
Children at an orphanage in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don earlier this month.

As expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed a law "that bans Americans from adopting Russian children and imposes other measures in retaliation for new U.S. legislation meant to punish Russian human rights abusers," Reuters reports.

Even though the Russian leader is following through on something he promised to do, the news is still a blow to "hundreds of Americans enmeshed in the costly, complicated adoption process," The New York Times writes. For them, the impact is "deeply personal."

"I'm a little numb," said Maria Drewinsky, a massage therapist from Sea Cliff, N.Y., tells the Times. She and her husband are "in the final stages of adopting a 5-year-old boy named Alyosha. [They] have flown twice to visit him, and they speak to him weekly on the telephone. 'We have clothes and a bedroom all set up for him, and we talk about him all the time as our son,' " Drewinsky said.

On All Things Considered Thursday, NPR's Michele Kelemen reported that Lauren Koch, of the National Council for Adoption estimates there are about 1,500 American families now in the process of adopting from Russia. Forty-six of them had already been matched with a child, Michele said.

On Morning Edition today, NPR's Corey Flintoff said it's likely hard for many in America "to fathom why Russia's leaders seem willing to take such a drastic and potentially unpopular step."

According to Corey, "Masha Lipman, of the Moscow Carnegie Center, says the answer has its roots in resentment of the fact that Russia, once on a par with America in terms of power, has now been relegated to second-class status. Lipman says that makes it easy for the government to resort to anti-American rhetoric when it feels threatened, especially by the wave of anti-government protest that erupted in major cities last winter. In that atmosphere, she says, the U.S. legislation known as the Magnitsky Act was seen as a humiliating interference in Russia's domestic affairs."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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