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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Western Embassies Discuss Adoption Controversies

Two Western embassies said Monday that they had no evidence of illegal international adoptions of Russian children, although they could not give an assurance that the Russian system was free of abuse.

And while they said they saw some need for tightening the process, which is being addressed in a draft law before parliament, they expressed the fear that more restrictive laws could paradoxically sentence the children to orphanages.

The embassy officials were responding to a recent article in The Moscow Times and other news reports of bribes and falsified medical documents in international adoptions.

"The inference is that foreigners with money buy babies", said the head of the department at the U. S. Embassy that issues visas for adopted children. "If I had doubts, I wouldn't approve them", said the official who requested anonymity.

U. S. and Canadian immigration and visa procedures are difficult to bypass, and adoption officials say they keep a vigilant eye on documents that are required from several layers in the Russian bureaucracy.

"We are required to assure ourselves that international adoptions follow the law of the country where the adoption occurs", said David Manicom, second secretary and vice consular officer at the Canadian Embassy. "It's difficult to be certain of that here".

Both officials said they tried to verify the authenticity of documents.

"But if the corruption is widespread, or if it is high enough in the system, then we're all swinging in the dark", Manicom said.

The American official said that questionable cases were referred to the immigration service. That department, he said, screens prospective parents in the United States.

For example, the service approved an adoption for a woman with impaired sight who met the adoptive parental requirements in the U. S.

Americans have adopted 433 children from the former Soviet Union since October 1991, the embassy official said. Canadians have adopted nearly 100 children, about 95 percent of them from Russia, this year.

The numbers are confusing. According to the Education Ministry only 165 children have been adopted by Westerners this year. Part of the problem is that many of the children -- about half of the ones adopted by Americans -- come from former Soviet republics other than Russia, the official said.

Embassy officials said they did not know why the Russian number appeared to be too low. Nevertheless, it, continues to increase steadily. Last month, the U. S. Embassy received notice of 163 new cases, said the official.

Dick Ginkowski, a city prosecutor from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and his wife just adopted a 4-year-old Russian girl with some respiratory and skin problems. After reading The Moscow Times article, entitled "Backdoor Babies" and published in the Review section last Friday, he called to say that they had not run into problems.

But he added: "We are very concerned about the reports of corruption. If abuses are not controlled, there will be no adoptions. No government can tolerate a back-door adoption process".