Russia’s Ban on U.S Adoption

On Friday December 28th Russia’s president Valdimir Putin signed Federal Law No. 186614-6, dubbed the Dima Yakovlev Law, named after a Russian-born child who died in the care of his U.S. adoptive parents. The law prohibits the adoption of Russian children by U.S. families and will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Tom Difilipo of the Joint Council on International Children’s Council summarized the bottom line of this action well: “The closure of Russia to intercountry adoption follows what is now an all too familiar strain of tragedies.  Children in Vietnam, Nepal, Romania and too many other countries suffer the life-long effects of institutionalization due to the elimination of intercountry adoption as a viable option.  However unlike other closures which were generally based on child protection issues, the Russian ban is particularly stinging in that it is an act of politics, pure and simple.”

The politics he refers to are the string of events that started in 2008 when Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney, was arrested after alleging large-scale systematic theft from the Russian Government sanctioned by officials. He died in prison in 2009 having been refused medical treatment and apparently beaten to death.

Magnistsky’s death was met with outrage throughout Russia, and human rights organizations around the world. Russian officials believed to be connected to his death had their assets frozen and were banned from entering European countries and Canada. The Magnitsky Act affects the same sanctions, and also includes other human rights violations and corruption components, for the United States. The act was signed into law on December 14th.  The Dima Yakovlev Law is a retaliatory law that also includes sanctions for individuals violating fundamental human rights and freedoms of the citizens of the Russian federation.

Although the Russian adoption ban is signed, we do not know now if it may or can be altered in the future, so it is important to share your opinions and thoughts of this situation with your Senator and U.S.  Representatives. Visit to find your representatives. President Obama and his administration also need to know of your concerns.  Ask them to continue to advocate for the thousands of young Russian children left languishing in orphanages.

While Spence-Chapin supports all efforts to place children within their country of origin, we worry about the thousands of children in Russia who will not find permanence in that country and due to this series of events, will not have the opportunity to be placed within a loving home here in the United States.


For on-going updates visit the U.S. State department website.

Save the Adoption Tax Credit!

The April 17th deadline swiftly came and went, and for most of us, our yearly tax headache has finally subsided. In February, we provided information on how the 2011 Adoption Tax Credit affects you. Now, as we look to our near future, there is a very pressing matter at hand. After going through a number of iterations, increases, and restrictions in the past fifteen years, the current Adoption Tax Credit is set to expire on December 31, 2012. Instead, of ensuring that all families can benefit from this credit, the Adoption Tax Credit will revert back to its original parameters of a $6,000 non-refundable credit that will only be available to a limited selection of adoptive families.

On Tax Day, Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley introduced the Making Adoption Affordable Act (HR4373) to the House of Representatives. This bill aims to establish a permanent, inclusive benefit to all adoptive families, helping to offset the high costs of adoption related expenses. Under this bill, the Adoption Tax Credit would be:

  • $13,360
  • Refundable
  • Permanent, with no future expiration date.

Rep. Bruce Braley said, “Renewing and expanding the adoption tax credit will help remove a barrier to more families deciding to adopt. It’s a small investment that provides a big return: getting more children into loving homes and out of the costly foster care system.  When a policy puts more kids in loving homes and also saves taxpayers millions of dollars in the process, expanding it should be a bipartisan no-brainer.”

The Making Adoption Affordable Act is extremely important because it permanently ensures all adoptive families receive relief from their adoption expenses, and it makes adoption a viable option for those who may not think that they can afford it. And, like Rep. Braley said, it provides a big return for everyone. It’s a no-brainer.

Please join us in advocating for the Making Adoption Affordable Act by writing your local congressperson to inform them about the urgency of this issue. Below is list of contact information for local representatives on the committee of Ways and Means, and also a sample letter you can use to urge our lawmakers to pass this important bill. For more information, please visit our partners at Save The Adoption Tax Credit.

Sample Letter

New York Representatives:

New Jersey Representative:

Click here to find your local representative



CALL TO ACTION: Russian Adoption

JCICS has issued an immediate CALL TO ACTION, inviting all members of the adoption community to sign its letter to President Medvedev and President Obama: the letter asks both Presidents to ensure that intercountry adoption continues uninterrupted; and join its campaign to ensure that the world knows about successful adoptions.  Click here to participate.

The Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) works to ensure that orphaned and vulnerable children can live, grow and flourish in a family.  Advocating for high standards, ethical practices, and child-centric policies, Joint Council educates governments, professionals and families all with a goal of finding a safe, permanent, and loving family for every child.  Spence-Chapin is a supporting member of JCICS.