Ukraine Halts Foreign Adoption Petitions

KIEV, Ukraine - Ukraine will temporarily stop accepting applications by foreigners to adopt children, the government said Monday, calling the move necessary while it creates a new department to better protect children's rights.

Applications that have already been submitted will continue to be processed, said Ukraine's Ministry of Youth and Sport.

Orphanage No. 3 in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine

The new department is expected to be operating within two months, at which time applications will be accepted again, said ministry spokesman Mykola Yabychenko.

Parliament is expected to consider the measure to create the new department and to ratify Ukraine's participation in The Hague Convention treaty on international adoptions this week.

"We will do everything possible to guarantee that not even one child will suffer," said Youth and Sport Minister Yury Pavlenko. "Our main task is to make this process clear and just."

Last year, 2,081 foreigners adopted Ukrainian children, compared with 1,536 domestic adoptions, according to government statistics.

Foreign adoptions are generally accepted among Ukrainians; however, cases of abuse draw extensive media attention. Ukrainian couples would traditionally not consider adoption except in cases in which they cannot have their own children for medical reasons.

Visiting U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt told journalists after a meeting with Pavlenko that Washington supports Ukraine's decision to join the Hague convention.

Leavitt also invited a Ukrainian delegation to visit the United States, where many Ukrainian orphans have found homes, to become acquainted with U.S. adoption standards, Pavlenko said. He accepted the invitation and said a delegation would head to the United States in December.

Source: AP