Russia's children rights ombudsman today sought to reassure American would-be adoptive parents that they will be allowed to take their children back to the U.S. But some Americans with court rulings in their favor say they're still in legal limbo.

A Russian law banning adoptions by U.S. citizens was rushed through parliament in December and sped to President Vladimir Putin's desk in less than 10 days in retaliation over a U.S. law calling for sanctions on Russians identified as human-rights violators.

Tens of thousands rallied in central Moscow on Sunday to protest the law, which the demonstrators say victimizes children to make a political point.

'All the children who have been approved to be adopted will be able to leave for the U.S.' — Russia's children rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov

Russian courts had ruled in favour of 52 U.S. families before the ban was enacted. But many of these families have told The Associated Press that authorities in Russia are still refusing to turn over these children.

Children rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov said Thursday that Russia would honour the court decisions but did not elaborate on the timeline or say what the families should do now.

"All the children who have been approved to be adopted will be able to leave for the U.S.," he said.

Dozens of U.S. families in legal limbo after adoption ban

Astakhov vehemently defended the new law, saying that it would not be revoked "however big the protests are."

Dozens of American families are in legal limbo because of the ban. Two couples, Jeana and Wayne Bonner, and Brian and Rebecca Preece, have stayed in Moscow for days waiting to finalize the adoption of children with Down syndrome. Officials refused to turn over the children to them, quoting the new law.


Brian Preece and his wife Rebecca, of Nampa, Idaho, who want to adopt a Russian boy with Down's syndrome, speak in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday. (Misha Japaridze/Associated Press)

Astakhov on Thursday blamed local officials for the bureaucratic cul-de-sac that's been created and quoted his conversation with them.

"What are you doing?" he said. "You're making a scandal. There are court decisions in place — go and enforce them."

But Brian Preece, who is waiting to adopt a 4-year-old boy, told the AP on Thursday that they have still not received any news from Russian authorities.

"They've been quiet," he said.

The Russian government says there are 654,000 children without parental custody in Russia and 105,000 of them live in orphanages.