Americans plead for adoption help in Russian ad

The ad asks Putin to remove roadblocks in the adoption process.
MOSCOW (AP) -- A group of Americans who have adopted or are waiting to adopt Russian children have appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to ease the procedure for foreigners, according to a letter published Tuesday in the Izvestia daily.
The letter, which was published as a paid advertisement two days before Putin meets with President Bush in Bratislava, asked the Russian president to help resume the process of accrediting foreign adoption agencies in Russia, which it said had been stalled.
"We, 7,000 American families are writing this letter to draw your attention to the serious problems that have come up lately in the sphere of adopting Russian orphans," the letter said.
It was signed simply 7,000 American families and it was not immediately possible to find out who had placed the ad.
The letter also urged Putin to speed up the work of Education Ministry officials charged with issuing documents needed for adoption.
The letter claimed that Russian lawmakers responsible for working out adoption legislation were deliberately putting up obstacles to foreign adoptions instead of concentrating on helping other orphans find host parents.
Many orphans
Galina Krasnitskaya, an adoption expert with Russia's Right of the Child advocacy group, said about 125,000 new orphans or abandoned children are registered in Russia every year.
"The problems of Russia's orphaned children who badly need permanent families are not being solved, but on the contrary more and more obstacles are being put up in the way of those who want to help the poor children," the letter said.
Krasnitskaya said a commission responsible for accrediting foreign adoption agencies was closed down in the midst of last year's overhaul of government ministries and agencies.
"But no one bothered to create a new one or to restart the old one," Krasnitskaya told The Associated Press.