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Russian adoption ban could complicate family law matters

Massachusetts families who are seeking to adopt a child are likely disheartened by the recently announced Russian ban on American adoptions of Russian children. The United States has a long history of adopting children from abroad, and this change in Russian policy will lead many to look elsewhere for their newest family members. Unfortunately, there are a number of American families that are currently in the middle of the adoption process for Russian children, and their family law needs have become far more complicated in recent weeks.

On Dec. 28 Vladimir Putin signed off on a ban on all American adoptions of Russian orphans. There has been no clarification on whether the ban will permit the completion of any pending adoptions, or if it will be implemented fully from the date of signing. For many families, this uncertainty leaves them in limbo over their rights to children they may have already bonded with.

An example lies in one family who are in the middle of the adoption process for a Russian boy with Down syndrome. The prospective adoptive parents already travelled to Russia once to visit with the child, and they were planning to return this month to attend a court hearing that would finalize the adoption. However, the new ban has thrown these plans into chaos, and they are unsure if the adoption will go through. They have opted to travel abroad anyway, in the hopes that they can get answers from the adoption agency or the Russian courts.

As this case demonstrates, family law issues pertaining to adoption can become extremely complicated due to shifting policies. Prospective parents who adopt foreign children have a unique set of legal needs, and should always ensure that they have full knowledge of their legal rights in both countries before moving forward. Having a solid knowledge base concerning the adoption process and the legal implications involved can save Massachusetts parents a great deal of heartache as they build their families.

Source: USA Today, "Montana family pushes on despite Russian adoption ban," David Murray, Jan. 6, 2013

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