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Russia's Medvedev to sign international adoption accord

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It will also require prospective parents to undergo special training, for which they will receive certification, and mandate regular reports on the progress and conditions Russian children find in their adoptive homes. In extreme cases, Russian authorities will be able to press charges against negligent parents and repatriate the child.

"This agreement will serve as a legislative basis for the whole adoption procedure," says Astakhov. "In future, if a [Russian-born] child finds himself in a complicated situation, we'll be able to trace what happens to him and, if necessary, bring him back home to find an adoptive family in Russia."

In the past 15 years, US families have adopted around 60,000 Russian children, of whom 17 have died in their adoptive American homes, in some cases as a result of parental abuse. These episodes have led to frequent Russian crackdowns on foreign adoptions, including one lengthy freeze three years ago.

But the story of 8-year old Artyom Savelyov, who was sent back to Russia alone by his adoptive mother with a note of rejection in April, triggered a storm of controversy. Some members of the Russian Duma, or lower house of parliament, called for a permanent halt to all international adoptions.

About 3,500 Russian children are currently in the process of being adopted by American families. Although the machinery has been slowed in the past three months, threats of a complete suspension did not materialize.

Retroactive agreement

Experts say the agreement soon to be signed will be retroactive, which will enable Russian authorities to prosecute Artyom's adoptive mother, Torry Hansen of Tennessee, for returning her son to Russia with a note claiming he had severe psychological problems and posed a danger to the family.

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