Don’t Forget The Children!

During one of our adoption visits to Russia we stopped at an orphanage unrelated to ours to let our escort do some business.  My wife and I waited in the air-conditioned van for about thirty minutes in 110 degree weather when I announced that I had to use the bathroom; an outhouse with a hole in the ground behind the orphanage.  The driver got permission and we walked through the orphanage to the designated location.  As we walked down the hallway we passed two rooms with large glass windows we could see through.  It was as stifling hot in that building as it was outside with no air conditioning.

The first room we passed was filled with about thirty or forty boys wearing only black shorts lying in cots.  It was nap time and their caregivers watched over them like hawks.  I guessed their ages ranged from four to twelve.  Several boys got to their knees on their beds to see who we were – curiosity.  They were beautiful children and my heart ached for every one of them.  The next room was filled with the same number of girls wearing shorts and tee shirts.  My heart ached even more and within, asked God what can be done.  The Spirit replied in a soft voice, felt more than heard, “Don’t forget the children.”

Someday the light will go on and humanity will realize what is really important – OR NOT!

When an adopted child is mistreated, abused or even in some cases killed in the US and the press goes to town reporting the gory details, the stage is set and the drama escalates as governments try to solve single cases with global policies that neither protect the innocent nor open the door for the orphan to be more easily liberated through adoption.  They have it terribly backwards!

Adoption expenses have become exorbitant and the policies and red tape more encumbering than ever.  Russian adoptions is an example of how a knee jerk reaction has slowed down processes and decreased numbers of international adoptions (from more than 5,000 per year in 2004 to a mere 1,200 per year now).  Why?

Let’s take it a step further and consider the consequences of closing or shutting the doors of adoption and the real impact it has on a nation of children.  Maybe the light will go on.  Maybe not.  There are more than 800,000 orphans in Russia at any one time.  It is a place where Vodka is cheaper than a loaf of bread.  Alcoholism is rampant and mothers die young.  We know this is true.  Like most countries, the government there is geared up to take young children away from abusive or street orphan situations and institutionalize their young.  They allow local residents to adopt these unfortunates before opening them up for international adoption.  However, after the age of 5, an orphan only has a 20% chance to be adopted locally or internationally. This is not a good statistic.

As an orphan they have rights but are often treated like second class citizens, dress like indigents with the bare necessities.  Though they may be housed, given medicine when sick, a set of cloths, food of some consistency, and a primary education, the system is not well equipped to transition them into the next stage of independence and reintegration into society. Only a small percentage of orphans are further schooled in Universities. Consider what happens to the rest of the children who have not been so diligent in school or are less capable to have earned an opportunity to continue their education.

At age 16 they “graduate” from the orphan program (how quaint) and are dropped off in the local city with the clothes on their back. They are immediately homeless in a city far from the only home some have ever known, alone and lacking the education necessary to provide for themselves.  Some of them have never seen a city.  They become prey to the darker elements of society – pimps, drug lords, gangs – get the picture?  This is reality folks, not some fantasy novel.  What would you do?

Below are the resultant statistics regarding Russian orphans and why it is critical to find families for these kids. Let’s guess that 800,000 orphans are evenly distributed over 16 years.  That means that 50,000 orphans enter the streets each year when they graduate – imagine that?

  • 10% will have committed suicide by their 18th birthday.  That’s 5,000 children per year. Think about it – this is horrifying!  No hope leads to no options.
  • 60% of the girls will end up in prostitution. My guess is that’s about 10 to 20,000 girls entering prostitution a year. Does this statistic include those who enter the slave trade market and shipped off to countries, sold into bondage, and die – spiritually or physically?  This makes me sick inside – how about you?
  • 70% of the boys will enter a life of crime.  Another guess would be conservative at 15 to 25,000 new criminals every year. Some die, some are imprisoned, others perpetuate their poverty.
  • Only 20% will find work. That’s only 10,000 of the 50,000 new citizens will obtain a job – mostly menial labor.

As you can see from these statistics, the future of these kids is very bleak if they are not adopted.  But the government policies and fees associated with adoption, the surveys, background investigations, the medical assessments, the notarization and other legal fees, the immigration fees, and every other blockade cripples a couple’s ability to adopt and save a child.

The process has become harder not easier, the invasion of privacy more significant – to do what I ask?  To protect who I ask? Why are these processes in place – for the one child in 100,000 that is dies in the US due to abuse, neglect, or even murder?  Because one couple out of desperation sent a child back to Russia on a one way ticket.

It is sad that any disaster should strike an innocent child or any lack of poor judgment or neglect gets so much press, but it happens.  I dare say that there are significantly fewer adopted children who die in these instances than the national average for all children.  Why – because adoptive parents want their children and are willing to go the extra mile, to great expense and sacrifice, to rescue them and give them a better life.  Neglect is not generally synonymous with adoption. Tell me that that’s not true.

Think about this – Approximately 1,500 children were given an opportunity of a lifetime last year while another 30,000 to 50,000 were given a death sentence.  Do the math! Multiply that by ten years and the numbers are even uglier.  In the past ten years, despite the policies and fees of nations  15,000 were granted a better life as opposed to the 50,000 who made a better life only 15 years ago.  But contrast that same statement of political wrangling and policy implementation, and explain to the half a million children who perished in some ignominious way.

GOVERNMENTS – LISTEN UP! Despite all of your rhetoric, policies and fees, you have not done anything to improve humanity’s ability to take care of our own.  Your policies, procedures, and fees are oppressive and make it harder, not easier to care for our young.  You may have patted yourselves on your back and saved one more child from being adopted to a less than ideal situation, but you have sentenced many more children to an unsavory end and a miserable life.  As human beings, we should be ashamed of ourselves.  Again, this is reality, not fantasy or drama.  Prove me wrong.

We adopted three girls above the age of six. The judge asked us why we didn’t adopt all of the children at the orphanage because our house was bigger than the orphanage building.  We said we would do it, they were all beautiful children, but the expense was too great. We could only save a small piece of humanity destined for an uncertain end. They are our joy and now are ours forever.

Recently we were asked about our interest in adopting more who were available – it tugs at our heart strings.  We were blessed in our adoption experience beyond measure and would love to have three more.  But to expose ourselves to the system again, more hardened than before, and to incur the expenses which have become more unrealistic, it would take its toll in ways we couldn’t handle as a family.  Give them to us and we’ll give them a life and the love they need to thrive in this less than fair world.

No matter what country a child is born into, just think about the prospects of what a life in a good home would be like if the rules were relaxed and families who want children were given a greater opportunity to adopt them.

Despite humanity’s neglect, God does not forget one single soul or creation of his.  My wife and I will never forget the children.

To those we left behind, we say, “We love you.  God be with you until we meet again – and we will meet again.”





Our First Christmas together video

Here is a glimpse of our family album.

One Response to “Don’t Forget The Children!”

  1. Vinny says:

    Comment from a friend: Do Russians use actuaries to calculate the costs of the existing process?

    Leaving compassion aside the cost of the associated crimes and imprisonment must far outweigh the cost of amending the system.

    If they waived all fees and instead paid to fly adoptees to their new home country it would be more economical [and safer] than what’s going on now.
    What would Russian cities be like in a few years if they weren’t producing 20,000 new criminals a year?

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