Officials to Visit Moscow to Discuss Adoptions

Russian authorities say a 7-year-old boy named Artyom arrived all alone in Moscow after an overnight flight from Washington, D.C. - with a letter from his adoptive American mother. CBS

A delegation of high-level State Department officials will visit Moscow for consultations after Russia threatened to freeze adoptions for U.S. families, the U.S. Embassy said Monday.

Russia threatened Friday to suspend all such adoptions after a 7-year-old boy adopted by a Tennessee woman was sent alone on a flight back to Moscow with a note saying he was violent and had severe psychological problems. The case has caused outrage in Russia.

U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle said in a statement Monday that that the delegation will discuss a possible agreement or bilateral understanding to ensure the well-being of Russian children adopted by families in the United States.

"Many thousands of Russian children have been adopted by American families, and we hope that children here who are unable to find a family in Russia to adopt them can continue to have this chance," he said.

A freeze could affect hundreds of American families. Last year, nearly 1,600 Russian children were adopted in the United States, according to the National Council For Adoption, a U.S. adoption advocacy nonprofit group.

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the delegation would be headed by Michael Kirby, a senior diplomat who deals with adoption issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Crowley said the visit had been being arranged even before the latest incident, but he did not have exact dates for the trip.

"The arrangements are still being worked out, but clearly, this latest situation will be among those things discussed," he told reporters.

Another senior U.S. official, the Obama administration's Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer, will also be in Russia in the coming days and Crowley said it was possible that she, too, would discuss the issue.

Verveer will be visiting Moscow, St. Petersburg and the southern Siberian city of Barnaul to meet with lawmakers, civil society and women's rights advocates, the State Department said.

Placing children inside Russia remains difficult. There are more than 740,000 children without parental custody in Russia, according to UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund.
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