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U.S., Russia to meet Monday on adoptions

From Charley Keyes, CNN
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Russian adoption: A success story
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Washington (CNN) -- U.S. officials will travel to Russia next week for meetings on the adoption issue, a State Department official said Friday.

Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, however, seemed unsure about the state of adoptions from that country since Russian officials said they had suspended adoptions of Russian children to U.S. parents..

"I don't think the system has stopped," Crowley said. "It is very possible the system is slowing down as we work through these issues."

Crowley said a U.S. delegation from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security would travel to Moscow this weekend to meet Russian officials on Monday despite upheaval in international travel after an Icelandic volcano shot clouds of ash into the air.

"Right now, as far as I know, they (members of the U.S. delegation) are still planning to travel," Crowley said. "If there is any impact of the current (volcanic ash) situation on this team, we will let you know."

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Moscow has sent mixed signals in recent days, following the uproar over a Tennessee woman sending home a 7-year-old Russian boy she had adopted. Artyem Saveliev's American adoptive family put him on a solo, trans-Atlantic flight from the United States to Moscow. They hired a Russian driver to deliver the boy from the airport to the Russian Ministry of Education.

Officials at private U.S. adoption agencies say families trying to adopt Russian children were deeply concerned by the uncertainty. Janice Goldwater, who runs a Silver Spring, Maryland, agency called Adoptions Together, said she is working with two dozen families trying to finalize Russian adoptions.

"I know families that were about to get on an airplane, have court dates scheduled, and they don't know if they should be crying or dancing with relief," Goldwater told CNN in a telephone interview. "What should I do, should I be finishing the nursery, getting the toddler toys or should I be keeping myself safe and protected by doing nothing? So it is a very difficult time for families."

On Friday, the United States said some U.S. adoptions were still being acted on in Russia.

"There are cases that are still moving forward. There are cases that have been postponed. Does this represent a blanket suspension -- the answer is 'no,'" Crowley said at his Friday afternoon briefing.

"Does this mean there could be some instances where cases are held up for a period of time as we try to clarify what's happening and see if we can strengthen the processes that are in place -- yes, there well may be delays," Crowley said.

"The Russians have mentioned to us they want to reach a bilateral agreement," Crowley said. "We share the same objective to find improved ways to process these adoptions while making sure these adoptions move forward so we will see what this meeting produces next week."