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Putin signs antiadoption law, throwing pending adoptions into confusion (+video)

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He added that he would also sign a presidential decree to improve procedures for adopting Russian orphans and abandoned children domestically, and also boost measures to help children with serious disabilities and health problems – who were previously the major pool of orphans made available for foreign adoption.

About 1,000 Russian children were adopted by US families in 2011, down from the annual average of 3,000 or so in the past decade, and only a small portion of the 120,000 Russian children who are considered eligible for adoption. Under Russian law, a child can be offered to prospective foreign parents only after having been rejected three times by Russian families.

Framed as 'selling' children

Russian nationalists argue that it's a shame for Russian children to be "sold" abroad, and several of the lawmakers who championed the Dima Yakovlev bill argued they will sponsor further efforts to ease the plight of Russia's huge numbers of institutionalized children.

Putin lent his support to the harshest critics of international adoption Thursday, by casually likening Russian children taken into US families to economic refugees.

"There are probably many places in the world where living standards are higher than ours. So what, are we going to send all our children there?" Putin said with sarcasm. "Maybe we should move there ourselves?" 

The new law is a sudden about face from Russia's previous position. Russia's foreign ministry spent years negotiating a detailed US-Russia adoption accord, which regulates virtually all aspects of the adoption process, and came into effect just last month.

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