Adoption officials in Minnesota are anxiously waiting to hear whether President Vladimir Putin of Russia will sign a bill banning adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens.
Putin indicated Thursday that he intends to sign the bill, according to the Associated Press, saying at a televised meeting that he did not "see any reasons why I should not sign it."
Maureen Warren, president of Children's Home Society and Family Services in St. Paul, said the ban might take effect immediately and would conflict with a bilateral agreement between the two countries that took effect Nov. 1.
"One of the terms of that bilateral agreement states that either side cannot change or stop adoption without a full year's notice," Warren said. "So there's some question about whether if he signed the law it would even be legal or take effect."
Warren said her organization facilitates about 20 to 30 adoptions of Russian children each year in Minnesota.
Russia's proposed ban on U.S. adoptions is reportedly in response to a recently passed U.S. law that places sanctions on Russians who violate human rights.
Warren said the Russian ban would be very different from previous adoption bans in countries such as Vietnam and Guatemala.
"There was a period of time where pending families were allowed to travel and complete their adoption," she said. "That's sort of the structure we're used to, at least when the change is implemented by the U.S. State Department, that's the process. So this is really a time of great uncertainty for those families."
Children's Home Society is asking families in its Russia program to contact the State Department about the situation.