As expected, Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial new bill banning US citizens from adopting Russian children, reports Reuters. In addition to the adoption ban, the Russian law, set to take effect Jan. 1, could close some Russian NGOs that receive US funding and bans Americans accused of violating Russians' rights abroad from obtaining visas. The measure is widely considered retaliation for the Magnitsky Act, an American bill signed into law earlier this month that puts restrictions on Russians deemed to be human-rights violators.
But with 740,000 children in Russia lacking parental care and only 7,416 kids adopted by Russians themselves last year, critics say the children will be the ones to suffer. Americans have adopted some 60,000 Russian children over the last 20 years, leading one Russian journalist to call Moscow's response "cannibalistic," reports the Washington Post. Right now there are 46 pending adoptions that will be immediately blocked by the legislation. "It's really unbearable," said one parent who was on the verge of adopting a four-year-old boy with special needs, according to the USA Today. The Ohio couple visited him several times and left photo albums. Now, "we feel like we're failing the child. ... It's hard to imagine how crushed he's going to be."