Wellington, July 23 NZPA - New Zealand families are closer to being once again able to adopt Russian orphans.
Russian officials have granted a permit to Inter Country Adoption New Zealand (ICANZ) allowing them to operate an adoption programme, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.
"This is a positive first step, we still have to work through the details, but we are moving closer to allowing Russian adoptions."
A spokeswoman for the minister said it was difficult to say how long it would be before adoptions could be finalised but it was likely to be months, not years.
Russian adoptions were suspended in 2006.
Since then New Zealand and Russia have been working on strengthening adoption protocols.
Russia is not party to the Hague Convention as it applies to international adoptions.
New Zealand is and Ms Bennett said similar protocols must be formed bilaterally.
"We are satisfied the work has been done to ensure the process will be robust and we continue to work with Russian officials on that," she said.
ICANZ has helped hundreds of Russian children find homes in New Zealand since 1992, its website said.
It has also helped families adopt children from Romania, Thailand, Lithuania, the Philippines and India.