The unfolding drama surrounding intercountry adoption in Russia is the biggest international family law story of the year, with events now posing a crisis for many US families whose adoptions had already been approved. The State Department posts updates on their web page at, including an alert on December 28 announcing that President Vladimir Putin had signed Federal Law No. 186614-6 , which will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

According to the alert, the State Department “remains actively engaged with the Russian government to determine how this will impact the resolution of adoptions by U.S. families in various stages of the adoption process,” and asks that US families in the process of adopting in Russia provide contact information to facilitate communication with the State Department. News accounts suggest that about 1500 American families are currently in the process of adopting in Russia, and 46 children had already been matched with American parents. In fiscal year 2011, a total of 962 families obtained visas to bring adopted Russian children into the United States; in previous years, this number has been much higher, with a total of about 60,000 children from Russia adopted into the United States over the past 20 years.

Many news stories and blog posts in all news media around the world have covered this story.  See, for example, David M. Herszenhorn and Andrew E. Kramer, Russian Adoption Ban Brings Uncertainty and OutrageNY Times Dec. 29, 2012, Michael Birnbaum, Russia advances law to ban U.S. adoptions, Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2012; Max Fisher, The real reason Russia wants to ban adoptions by ‘dangerous’ American families, Washington Post “World Views” Dec. 28, 2012; and Olga Khazan, Russia is one of the most popular countries for U.S. adoptions, Washington Post “World Views” Dec. 27, 2012.