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Negotiations over Russian adoptions agreement stopped

27 January 2017.

Please attribute the following to Child, Youth and Family Deputy Chief Executive Murray Edridge.

Negotiations with the Russian Federation regarding the establishment of a bilateral agreement on adoption have been stopped for the present.

New Zealanders have not been able to adopt Russian children since October 2013, when the Russian Government introduced a halt on intercountry adoptions unless a bilateral agreement was in place.

New Zealand and the Russian Federation have been in negotiations for a number of years in order to try and reach a bilateral agreement on adoption.

However, regrettably, we have reached a point where it is clear we are unable to bridge the gap between the conditions Russia requires in its intercountry adoptions agreements, and what New Zealand is able to accept, given our own legislative and international commitments.

Full details cannot be discussed at this point as this might prejudice the resumption of negotiations in the future. However, broadly speaking the difficulties from New Zealand’s perspective relate to the following:

  • Requirements relating to how future care arrangements for Russian children are responded to after they arrive in New Zealand, e.g. re-adoption and entry in to care if required.
  • The implications of the two countries’ differing legislative frameworks relating to who may apply to adopt a child from Russia, which from New Zealand’s point of view includes single people and same sex couples.
  • The granting of New Zealand citizenship to Russian children.

Background information

Russia, through its Ministry of Education and Science (MOE), provided an initial draft agreement on a Bilateral Agreement on Intercountry Adoption in July 2011.

In May 2012 Cabinet agreed for MSD to commence negotiations on a bilateral agreement with the Russian Federation. Formal negotiations on the bilateral agreement began in February 2014.

In July 2015 Cabinet delegated to the Minister for Social Development the final decision about entering and exiting intercountry adoption programmes. On 12 December 2016, Cabinet noted Minister Tolley’s decision to put on hold negotiations.

More than 650 Russian children were adopted by New Zealanders between 1992 and Russia putting a hold on adoptions to New Zealand in 2013.

No adoptions are currently underway between the two countries.

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