Russian president Vladimir Putin turned a controversial measure into law Friday when he signed a bill that bans adoption of Russian children by American citizens. The move not only deepens tensions between Moscow and Washington, but also directly affects 52 children who were almost ready to join new families in the United States, according to Reuters. Some American citizens were so close to the end of the long and complicated adoption process that they had everything prepared for the child’s arrival, points out the New York Times. Of the some 50 children affected, the adoption of six will apparently move forward because court decisions had already been issued, according to a Kremlin spokesman cited by the Wall Street Journal. For the most part though it seems all adoptions to American parents will stop from Jan. 1 and officials will find new homes for orphans originally destined for the United States.
Americans adopted close to 1,000 Russian children last year, making Russa the third most popular country for adoptions, after China and Ethiopia, points out CNN. The ban on adoptions is part of a harsh response by the Kremlin to a U.S. law that imposes travel and financial restriction on Russians deemed to be human rights abusers, which President Obama signed earlier this month. The Russian law, which Putin signed in less than 24 hours after it received overwhelming congressional approval, also targets non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. funding if their activities are deemed political. That definition is so broad that some fear it could help the Kremlin close any NGO that it dislikes, notes the Associated Press.