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CYFS suspends assessments for Russian adoptions

15 September 2006
Media Release
For Immediate Release

Child Youth and Family temporarily suspends assessments for Russian adoptions

Child, Youth and Family today announced it was temporarily suspending its assessments of new prospective families wanting to adopt children from Russia but reassured families already advanced in the process that they will continue to receive help.

New Zealanders have been adopting Russian children since 1992. Families adopting in Russia undertake independent adoptions, applying to the Russian Ministry of Education directly and completing adoption legal processes themselves.

The suspension comes in the wake of the Russian government signalling that it will be changing its legislation to cease all independent inter-country adoptions. This will mean in the future all foreign citizens will be required to use the services of an adoption agency in their own country that has been accredited by the Russian Ministry of Education as a foreign adoption agency. Currently, New Zealand does not have such an agency.

Inter-country Adoptions New Zealand, ICANZ, which helps facilitate inter-country adoptions for New Zealanders, is working towards Russian accreditation. However, until that happens, Acting Deputy Chief Executive for Child, Youth and Family Bernadine MacKenzie says Child, Youth and Family does not feel that clear processes are in place to provide the appropriate level of support throughout the adoption process.

She said, "Without an accredited agency, the process of inter-country adoption is surrounded by uncertainty. A number of adoptive families have had the process disrupted or delayed, with some inter-country adoptions taking years to complete. This can cause an extremely high level of stress - as well as financial cost - and is not in either the child or adoptive families' best interest."

A crucial part of the inter-country adoption process is a home study, a formalised assessment of the prospective home environment carried out by Child, Youth and Family, as part of the application. These are only considered valid for 12 months after which time they must be redone and records updated.

Ms MacKenzie says Child, Youth and Family will continue to help those New Zealand families who have already been offered a Russian child, or who have applied to adopt a Russian child.

She said, "Child, Youth and Family will also complete any homestudy assessments currently underway, provided that applicants understand the current environment in Russia and the uncertainty for completion of an adoption.

"This temporary suspension does not necessarily mean that we will never be able to help facilitate Russian adoptions, but at this point it would be unfair to raise expectations by undertaking home study assessments until the obstacles to adoption in Russia have been overcome."

"We intend to lift this temporary suspension if and when the situation changes appropriately, and we will keep everyone informed. "

Ms MacKenzie added that the Child, Youth and Family policy change is to safeguard the best interests of the children and families involved.

She said, "Although we know this decision will be disappointing for families who want to adopt a Russian child, we have to be sure that the proper safeguards are in place to support parents undertaking an inter-country adoption.


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