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Russia's Medvedev to sign international adoption accord

When Russian President Medvedev visits Washington this week, he will sign a new agreement on international adoption.

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When Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visits Washington this week, he and US President Barack Obama are expected to shake hands on a nearly completed US-Russia adoption accord that will stave off some Russian calls for a ban on foreign adoptions.

The terms under which an American family can adopt a child from one of Russia's brimming orphanages has created almost as many bilateral headaches in recent years as big strategic issues like arms control or NATO expansion. Experts say the accord may well lay the worst controversies to rest.

"The agreement we've negotiated is simple and understandable. And it's not only our side that needs it but also American families" looking to adopt Russian children, says Pavel Astakhov, the Kremlin's ombudsman for children's rights. "It will give everyone more confidence in the process and provide some [legal] guarantees as well."

According to Mr. Astakhov, the deal will end all independent adoptions from Russia and place the process squarely in the hands of a few international adoption agencies that have been vetted and accredited by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. (View a list of currently accredited agencies here.)

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