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Edil Baisalov, who has taken over as acting head of the Ministry of Social Development since Mr. Sabirov’s arrest, says the top priority is to find adoptive families in Kyrgyzstan but that is not easy, particularly in the case of children with illnesses and disabilities.

“[Illness] is the most likely reason that biological parents bring their children to state orphanages,” he says. “We are not going to avoid our duty to those kids. We can’t let them grow up and be a burden on our society either as these kids in car often end up being institutionalized or in prison while suffering throughout their lives.”

Mr. Baisalov insists that everything is being done to restart the adoption process. He hopes that new legislation aimed at closing loopholes that allowed corruption will be in pace by mid-December, and aims to see the number of international adoption agencies working in the country increase from 10 to 15.

But observers bemoan an atmosphere of paranoia in which accusations of “selling” Kyrgyz children have been aggravated by Russian TV reports in Kyrgyzstan documenting cases of Russian children suffering abuse at the hands of adoptive parents in the U.S.

Meanwhile, three of 65 children set for adoption by Americans and Canadians have died since 2009, as officials wrangle over the shifting bureaucracy.

“No child should wait days, months, years for family, love, caring,” says Elena Voronina, a human rights activist in Bishkek. “While state officials decide who should deal with international adoption, how to avoid corruption and what mechanisms should be in place, 36 [of the remaining 62 children] are in need of complex operations, which they will not receive in our country. Are they doomed to a slow death?”