MOSCOW -- Some of the Russian children caught in limbo by their country's ban on adoptions by Americans have left for the United States with their new parents, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said Wednesday.
The confirmation to The Associated Press from press attaché Joseph Kruzich was the first official word that any of the 46 children had been allowed to leave Russia. Kruzich did not say exactly how many of the children had already left, but it was clear that all of these adoptions could now go forward, bringing huge relief to the children's would-be parents in America.
The ban on adoptions by Americans was rushed through Russia's parliament and signed by President Vladimir Putin in December in retaliation for a U.S. law that sanctions Russians said to have violated human rights.
But the hasty enactment left many questions unresolved, including the fates of the 46 children whose adoptions had already been approved by Russian courts. The court approval of the adoptions had to be followed by a 30-day waiting period, but that period wasn't over before the ban went into effect Jan. 1, leaving the children in legal limbo.
Many of the adoptive parents came to Russia last week hoping to take home children with whom they had already bonded during two or more previous trips to Russia as part of the lengthy adoption process. But some of the Americans were left hanging when officials refused to turn over the children, citing uncertainty over the new law. Others had more luck, but kept low profiles, unwilling to jeopardize adoptions that still seemed shaky.
Russia's Supreme Court was asked to establish a legal framework for resolving the dilemma and it issued its ruling on Tuesday, stating firmly that all adoptions approved by courts by Jan. 1, even if they had not gone into effect, would be allowed to proceed. The same assurances had been given last Thursday by Russia's ombudsman for children's rights, but his words carried no legal weight.
"Following up on recent statements by Russian authorities, the embassy can confirm that several adoptions have been finalized under Russian law," Kruzich told the AP. "The embassy in Moscow has processed the applications of these adopting parents in accordance with standard procedures. We will continue processing those cases that are approved by Russian courts."
The first children left Russia on Friday and Saturday, a day after their applications were processed by the embassy.