By Jay Sekulow
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The first meeting between John F. Kerry as the new secretary of state and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov could be dominated this week by the emotional issue of Americans adopting Russian children, after an explosive exchange between Russian lawmakers and the U.S. ambassador in Moscow.
Russia's ombudsman for children's rights sought on Thursday to reassure American would-be adoptive parents that they will be allowed to take their children back to the United States. But some Americans with court rulings in their favor say they're still in legal limbo.
President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a law banning Americans from adopting Russian children, abruptly terminating the prospects for more than 50 youngsters preparing to join new families and sparking critics to liken him to King Herod.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he will sign a controversial bill banning Americans from adopting Russian children, a defiant move against the United States that has angered some Russians who argue it victimizes children to make a political point.
Defying a storm of domestic and international criticism, Russia moved toward finalizing a ban on Americans adopting Russian children, as Parliament's upper house voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a measure that President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will sign into law.
Following the international uproar last year over an unwanted 7-year-old Russian boy being sent home — unaccompanied — by his would-be adoptive American mother, U.S. and Russian officials are poised this week to sign a pact allowing intercountry adoption to resume fully, but with significant new restrictions in place.
Pavel Astakhov said Thursday that Russia would honor the court decisions but did not elaborate on the timeline or say what the families should do now.
"All the children who have been approved to be adopted will be able to leave for the U.S.," he said.