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Russia's proposed ban on US adoptions: What would it mean for orphans?

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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.

“There is terrible irony in the fact that America’s decision to speak out against human rights violations may cause the Russian government to deny many thousands of Russian orphans the possibility to grow up in loving, adoptive families,” says Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of National Council for Adoption in Alexandria, Va.

The Russian bill came in response to a US law that stemmed from the case of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in jail in his country after being arrested by police officers whom he accused of involvement in a $230 million tax fraud. The law prohibits officials allegedly involved in his death from entering the US.

UNICEF, the UN agency focused on children, issued a statement Wednesday that, without mentioning the proposed ban, calls on Russia to put children's interests first.

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