MOSCOW – Russia may “freeze” adoptions of children by U.S. citizens if the two countries fail to reach an agreement regulating the practice, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.

Russia announced a suspension of adoptions last week after a 7-year-old boy was sent back alone to Moscow by his adoptive American mother. President Dmitry Medvedev, during a visit to the United States last week, said adoptions may be banned after the “monstrous act.”

Russia “insists that further adoptions be carried out under a bilateral agreement with the U.S., which we’re prepared to work on with the American side,” the Foreign Ministry said on its Web site Monday. “If our partners show a desire to reach such an agreement, this will allow us to avoid freezing the process of adoption by U.S. citizens. We see no other options for resolving the situation.”

Adoption talks, scheduled to begin in Moscow today, were postponed by flight disruptions caused by a cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Lyakin-Frolov said by telephone Monday. “We’re clarifying the timing of the visit. We’ll see how the talks go and make a decision” on a possible ban, he said.

The United States has received “no official notification” of an adoption halt, though “it appears that the recent controversy has slowed the process down,” the U.S. Embassy in Moscow said in an e-mailed statement.

A State Department delegation headed by Michael Kirby, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, is expected to arrive in Moscow for talks next week.

Medvedev said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program last week that an agreement should be reached outlining the obligations of American adoptive parents and allowing for the monitoring of those families.

The boy, Artyom Savelyev, arrived unaccompanied at a Moscow airport carrying a letter from his adoptive mother in Tennessee that said he was “violent” and had “severe psychopathic issues.”

The “outrageous” Savelyev case shows that “children adopted from Russia are unprotected from unscrupulous American adoptive parents,” the Foreign Ministry said on its Web site.

Bi-national disputes involving adopted Russian children abroad regularly grab the attention of state media. In December 2008, the Foreign Ministry condemned as “odious and unprecedented” the acquittal of a Virginia man whose 21-month-old adopted Russian son died after being left in a parked car.