Meanwhile, Back at the State Duma...
Back in April 2010, when the news first broke about the development of a bilateral adoption treaty between the United States of America and Russia, I mentioned a bill that had been introduced to the Russian State Duma. That bill, officially known as No. 364094-5 (About Amendments to Article 124 and 165 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation), spent the summer in committee, and was brought before the full State Duma in late September. At that meeting, it was decided to send the bill to the other parties in the lawmaking process (Federation Council, President of Russia, etc.) for comment. Simultaneously, it was placed on the State Duma docket for a first vote on October 22, 2010.
The bill calls for changes to the Russian Family Code, which would require foreign adoptive parents' home countries to have an adoption treaty with Russia prior to adopting a Russian-born child. In short, adoption from Russia would not be possible to any country that did not have such a treaty in place. If the bill becomes law, it would have an immediate impact on families who are working on Russian adoptions from almost every western country (except Italy, which entered a bilateral adoption treaty with Russia last year). Currently, the United States of America is in the final stages of negotiating such a treaty. Reports from the Russian media suggest that France is working on one as well.
Right now, it is only a bill. It could pass the State Duma after three votes (each is normally held on a separate day), after which it would go to the Federation Council for a vote, and then on to the President for signature into law. If it fails to pass on any vote in the State Duma, it will die. But, it is also possible that it could pass each vote and become law.
I personally believe that the State Duma is seriously considering passing this bill, due to the nature of the comments it has received from the State Duma's legal counsel. The fact that they have asked for comments from the Federation Council and the President, as well as The Government (headed by Prime Minister Putin), tells me that they want to make sure it will pass through the higher end of the lawmaking process and be enforceable before they vote to approve it. This is especially necessary as the bill was introduced by a Regional entity (the Republic of Bashkortostan), not federal.
For those who are currently in the adoption process, don't panic-- this isn't a law yet. I am merely trying to help you become aware of a possible change to Russian law that may be coming. It is also possible that it could evaporate, but I always believe it is best to know what could possibly happen so that contingencies can be planned in case it actually does happen.
The real test is on October 22; If the bill passes in the first reading, we will be able to tell from the number who voted for it and the number against whether it is likely to become law in the end. I will continue to watch its progress, so watch this space for updates.
Published: Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 5:52 PM