Russia weighs banning US adoptions

MOSCOW - Russia's president will be deciding in the next couple of weeks whether to sign a measure that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children.

President Vladimir Putin has called it a legitimate response to a new U.S. law calling for sanctions against Russians who are found to be human rights violators.

   But Russian activists have spoken against the bill that won final approval in parliament today, saying it victimizes children by depriving them of the chance to escape Russian orphanages.

   According to UNICEF, there are about 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia. More than 60,000 Russian children have been adopted in the United States in the past 20 years.

   The bill is named in honor of a Russian toddler who was adopted by Americans and then died in 2008 after his father left him in a car in broiling heat for hours. Russian lawmakers argued that they'd be protecting children and encouraging adoptions inside Russia if they banned adoptions to the U.S.

   A Russian children's rights ombudsman says 46 children who were about to be adopted by U.S. citizens will stay in Russia if the bill is signed, even though there have already been court rulings in some of those cases authorizing the adoptions.

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