MOSCOW April 15, 2010 -- U.S. and Russian officials have issued conflicting statements today about whether adoptions by American parents have been suspended, putting in jeopardy the adoption of hundreds of children by American families.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is standing by its announcement that all adoptions had been halted until the two countries could work out an agreement in the wake of a Tennessee mother's decision last week to put her 7-year-old adopted son on a plane back to Moscow alone.
"Future adoptions of Russian children by citizens of the United States, which are now suspended, are possible only if such an agreement is reached," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said today.
His comments directly conflict with a report from the U.S. State Department which told ABC News today that it had reached out to the Russian embassy in Washington, and the U.S. embassy in Moscow has reached out to the Foreign Ministry and had been told on both ends that adoptions already underway are still moving.
There has also not been a suspension of new adoption cases, U.S. officials said.
The Russian embassy in Washington couldn't be immediately reached for comment on the contradictory statements. According to officials with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, there are 281 Russian children awaiting adoption by 232 American families.
U.S. officials are expected to meet with Russian authorities next week to discuss international adoptions and possibly a new bilateral agreement, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told ABC News in a statement.
"There are many loving families in the United States hoping to adopt children from Russia," Crowley said. "It is in the interest of these children that our two countries reach a suitable arrangement that allows such adoptions to continue. We have a team going to Russia next week to try to reach an understanding so suitable adoptions can continue."
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview last week that he had a "special concern" about the recent treatment of Russian children adopted by Americans.
More than a dozen Russian children have died in the hands of their American adopters.
Mother Returns Adopted Son to Russia
Artyem Saviliev's U.S. adoptive mother, Torry Hansen, put the boy on a plane back to Moscow alone last week with a note pinned to his jacket claiming the boy had psychological problems.
Upon arrival in Russia, Artyem was examined and showed no signs of the violent, psychiatric behavior that Hansen complained of, Russian officials said.
Hansen of Shelbyville, Tenn., told Russian officials in a note pinned inside the boy's pocket that adoption officials there had lied to her about Artyem's mental stability.
"No, no this is not true," Pavel Astokhov, Russia's children's rights commissioner, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview on Monday. "How can you imagine this, [that] a 7-year-old boy can be dangerous?"
Federal officials are in Tennessee and have joined the investigation. No charges have been filed yet against Hansen or her mother, Nancy Hansen, but authorities said they are looking into whether there have been any acts of child endangerment or conspiracy.
Artyem, who was renamed Justin in the United States, has been seen playing and smiling since he was returned to his native country.
In Hansen's note to Russian officials, she called her son "dangerous."
"I no longer wish to parent this child," Hansen's note read.
"This child is mentally unstable," Hansen wrote to the Russian Ministry of Education. "He is violent and has severe psychopathic issues/behaviors. I was lied to and misled by the Russian orphanage workers and director regarding his mental stability and other issues."
"The first day when he came to Moscow he didn't say nothing because he was disoriented because the mother of Torry Hansen told him that it would be a kind of trip or vacation," Astokhov said. "And he was surprised when came to Moscow."
According to government statistics, the number of Russian children adopted to U.S. families has sharply declined in the last 10 years, down from a high of 5,862 in 2004 to 1,586 last year.
ABC News' Ashleigh Banfield, Kirit Radia, Zoe Magee, and Lee Ferran contributed to this story.