Auckland couple Jo Denvir and Daniel Nixon have been waiting three years for the adoption doors to Russia to reopen.

So it was with great joy that they heard the announcement yesterday, from Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, that New Zealand families can once again apply to adopt Russian children.

"It's very exciting, really exciting," Ms Denvir told the Herald. "It's been a long wait for us; three years we've been waiting for Russia to open up again."

Adoptions from Russia were suspended in 2006 because the authorities there wanted to deal through an official agent, rather than with individual families.

That suspension has been lifted because Inter Country Adoption NZ (Icanz), a charitable non-profit organisation, now has a permit to officially represent families.

Many couples wanting to adopt either cannot or do not want to have any more children of their own.

In Mr Nixon and Ms Denvir's case, any offspring they have will have a 50 per cent chance of having kidney disease; their 4-year-old son, Max, had a twin brother who died of a heart-kidney disease within days of being born.

"So we want to adopt, and we want to adopt toddlers," Ms Denvir said.

The couple have family history in Russia and know of the great need to help the hundreds of thousands of children living in Russian orphanages.

"There's a big waiting list for children from New Zealand, whereas in Russia there's lots of children waiting in orphanages, so they're more needy."

Icanz director Wendy Hawke said having the permit would make the adoption process much easier.

"Families will only need two trips to Russia, instead of three, and when they go to court there and work with the authorities, we will have people on the ground there to help as official representatives."

Icanz has facilitated 670 adoptions from Russia since 1992 - the first were children adopted by Mrs Hawke.

She said about 60 to 70 per cent of people adopted because they could not have children themselves.

"However, the choice to adopt from overseas is when the humanitarian side comes in, that they feel they would like to adopt a child who has been in an orphanage. We only had one child by birth and we wanted a larger family. Russia for us was a comfortable choice so we went back two years later and adopted again."

Any adoption needs to be approved by Child, Youth and Family, and Ms Denvir hopes that her family will have some Russian additions by the middle of the year.

"We want Russian children to be in our home from yesterday. As fast as possible would be good."

Russia also needed to improve its processes for the doors to reopen.

New Zealand is party to the Hague Convention on intercountry adoptions, but Russia is not, although Moscow has now agreed to an arrangement that is consistent with the Hague Convention.

* People interested in applying to adopt a child from Russia should contact Icanz