An adoption agreement between Russia and the United States reached last year remains in force, Dmitri Peskov, the main Kremlin spokesman, told the RIA Novosti news agency Thursday. He pointed out that the agreement requires 12 months’ notice for either side to withdraw. Russia, he said, delivered that notice to the U.S. Embassy on Jan. 1, although until now it has been portrayed as an immediate cancellation.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States did not know what the Kremlin announcement means for adoptions already in progress. “We are very hopeful that in the spirit of the original agreement and out of humanitarian concern that we will be able to work through those cases that had been begun,” she said.
As Russians return from their long New Year’s break, it has become clear that the adoption issue has struck a deep chord here and energized a dispirited opposition. The law was intended as a snub to the United States, but many here say its primary victims are Russian orphans.
Evidence of the nasty and manipulative nature of the debate over adoption emerged Thursday in Chelyabinsk, in Russia’s Ural Mountains, when a news Web site reported that a 14-year-old orphan, Maxim Kargapoltsev, had written President Vladimir Putin asking to be allowed to join his new family, Mil and Dianna Wallen, in Woodstock, Va.
The Web post brought stinging denunciations from supporters of the adoption ban, who called it a provocation. Lawmaker Yekaterina Lakhova, one of the sponsors of the legislation, called the report an “attack against Russia.”
As it turns out, there probably was no letter. Maxim had told a Web site reporter last month that he wished he could leave for his new home, and the site apparently decided to crank the story up a bit. That’s according to the director of the orphanage where Maxim lives and a local reporter, Inna Kumeiko, who met with the boy on Thursday morning.
Maxim couldn’t be reached from Moscow, but he made his feelings clear in a social media post Wednesday night.
“I am very sorry,” he wrote, “that the law will not let me have a very good family in the future, the family that I have known and loved and whom I have become attached to.
“I like my motherland, but I would like to have a family in the U.S.
“I really wish I could personally see VVP [Putin] and all those who adopted the law.”
Maxim didn’t see Putin on Thursday, but he did see the regional governor, Mikhail Yurevich, who swept in after news of Maxim’s plight got out. He gave the boy a new tablet computer and a laptop, dispensed phones to other orphans and promised Maxim that he could travel — to Israel — to get some medical issues resolved.