MOSCOW, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Moscow and Washington are likely to sign a child-adoption agreement within three months, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
"The text of the Russian-U.S. agreement on cooperation in international adoptions, intended to provide solid guarantees of adopted children's rights, was agreed upon during the bilateral consultations in July," Andrei Nesterenko told journalists in Moscow.
A final round of consultations could lead to the signing by Dec. 31, the Russian Information Agency Novosti quoted Nesterenko as saying.
The U.S. State Department had no immediate comment on the possible signing.
Russia was the third leading source of adopted children in the United States in 2009, after China and Ethiopia, State Department figured indicate.
But Moscow threatened to prohibit any U.S. child adoptions until the countries signed an agreement guaranteeing the adopted children's rights after adoptive mother Torry Ann Hansen, a registered nurse from Shelbyville, Tenn., sent a 7-year-old boy she adopted back to Moscow by himself in April.
The boy, Artyom Savelyev, walked off the plane from Washington carrying a knapsack, markers for coloring and candy, along with a typewritten note from Hansen.
The note said Artyom, who she renamed Justin, was "violent" and had "severe psychopathic issues." Hansen added she felt "lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers" about his troubles.
Artyom's plight prompted Moscow to make its threat until safeguards could be put in place.
An estimated 3,500 Russian children are in some stage of the adoption process with 3,000 American families, the Joint Council on International Children's Services advocacy group says.