About 120,000 orphans are listed as up for adoption in a Russian government database, while only 18,000 Russian families are signed up to become adoptive parents, according to numbers cited by The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and other sources.
"These children have already lost the chance to be adopted by a Russian family," before they are considered for US adoption, says Jennifer Phillips, an adoption supervisor at Lutheran Social Services in Rocky Hill, Conn. It's unclear, she says, whether Putin can succeed in getting more orphans placed with Russian families.
Even before any ban takes effect, Russia has been slowing the pace of international adoption. In the US, adoptions of Russian children totaled just 962 in 2011, down from nearly 6,000 in 2004, according to the US State Department. Despite the decline, the US remains the top foreign destination for Russian orphans being adopted internationally.
And despite the decline, only China and Ethiopia outranked Russia in 2011 as a "country of origin" for international adoptions by US parents. If Putin signs the ban, the move would not only block new adoptions but also cast doubt over US adoptions from Russia that are currently under way.