Thursday, December 27, 2012

Russian adoption ban

Okay, unless you've been living under a rock lately, this will be old news but thought I'd share how I feel on it.  We've been in the adoption world now for well over 13 years.  We've seen quite a bit including many, many, many threats to shut down Russian adoptions.  Happens every so often.  Typically, it ends in stricter rules, more trips and much more paperwork for ever determined families to bring their children home. This time though, it seems to be sounding more like what happened in Romania.  Years ago, it all just stopped.  Families left w/ no children, children left w/ no future.  Sad, but true.  What will happen this time?  No one knows for sure.  I do know there was a bilateral treaty signed last year.  So I do believe there may be hope for those that are in process and would be grandfathered in.  Read it somewhere on the Joint Council of Adoption website I think.  Can't remember.

All I know is this.  There are well over 700,000 orphans in Russia.  I think it is actually closer to 800,000.  The Russian mentality to adopt orphans is different than Americans.  Think America in the 50's & 60's or older when we as Americans would also send the disabled away.  I know many don't talk about it now but it did happen in the US.  The thinking is the same over there still.  The bottom line is the Russian people are not going to adopt these children.  Shoot, they didn't do it even when there was monetary incentive.  Yes, the Russians offered their citizens money to adopt the children.  Someone on here remembers the #, I'm sure.  Can't remember if it was around 10K rubles a child or what.  Honestly, can't remember.  But even with incentive such as money, they did not really flock to adopt.  Yet foreigners kept adopting.  Though Russian adoptions have gone down dramatically in years.

Russian adoption is so much more paper intensive and so much more expensive than it was years ago.  Put it this way.  In 1999, we paid $19,700 for BOTH the adoption of Irina and Max.  That was every penny counted such as travel, gifts, fees, lodging, stamps, etc.  All.  It was ONE trip back then.  We had a judge crack jokes in Orenburg and had the worst heat wave on record.  Compare that to 2004 when we went to Stavropol.  And I won't even get into the corruption with that region on here.  It was one trip ONLY b/c we had hosted them and they let us do that.  Nearly $40K for both Yana and Alex.  Crazy!  Our dossier alone for them was $4,000!  The Russians kept changing what they needed.  Compare it to our adoptions of Alyona and Nik in 2006.  TWO trips.  And now, people have to do 3 and 4 trips.  Airfare alone for a Russian adoption is about as much as our first set of adoptions for 2 kids!  Yet, parents keep doing it.  Why?  Because they love the kids.  It is NOT about the money.  It is about the kids.  Period.

Our Russian kiddos would most likely not be alive today.  Max and Irina's orphanage let them out at 13yo.  No family, no money, no job skills at 13yo.  Alex would not have survived.  Without medication, he is not the same.  He needs his medication and that would not have come about at the orphanage.  Nik, was headed to a Russian mental institution.  We were told that.  All b/c he couldn't talk.  4yo and headed to a mental institution for being...DEAF.  Why?!  We were told they kept Alyona at the childrens' home and didn't send her to the internat b/c they were afraid of what would happen to her.  She was fragile and they were afraid she'd get beat up and die.  Yes, they told us that. Life is not a bed of roses for orphanage kids.  Max used to get picked up by his ears.  He had bread taken away from him.  Think that's why we call him bread boy still to this day.  He loves bread.  Yana got in trouble at her orphanage.  Why?  Because she tried to snag real toilet paper.  At her orphanage, they used newspaper.  True.  Max wore girls' tights b/c they all shared clothes.  No clothes of their own.  None.  I won't even discuss what happened at Alex's orphanage while we were there.  Put it this way, even our translator at the time said " we have to get him the **ll out of there."  When you adopt older children, you get to listen to the stories.  Some will rip your heart out.  They all share beds.  And not big beds.  Think two to three kids to a small twin/ toddler type sized bed.  No wonder why my kids want to be star fish in bed now.  LOL.  The stories though are hard to hear.  But true.

I've never gone into adoption thinking "I'm rescuing these kids."  Or "I'm saving this child."  That is NOT what it's about.  I'm forming my family.  That's it.  Plain and simple.  I have Russian heritage in my family.  Russian Orthodox faith as well.  My kids know they came from Russia.  They've spoken at school about the culture, showed them things that came from there, etc.  I've never been ashamed of where they came from and neither have they.  But lately, I don't think they're all too proud of what the Russians are doing in regards to adoption.  My six Russian kids would have had a much different fate had they not been adopted.  That is a fact.  They are in a family now.  They have proper medical care.  Proper housing.  Proper clothing.  But it is what you can't see that they have now that they did NOT have in a Russian orphanage.  They have determination, motivation, hope, joy, and above all else, love.  They were given these things because they were given a family.  We did nothing special.  We adopted kids from Russia b/c we love the kids.  Give other parents this chance as well.  Give the kids a chance at a life.  We may not be the best parents in the world.  I know that.  We make mistakes.  We learn from them and press on.  We love our kids.  We don't care where they came from.  Whether it's Russia, Bulgaria or Serbia.  We don't care.  We just love our kids.  Plain and simple.  Putting a ban on adoptions would be detrimental to so many kids in the Russian orphanage system.  I look at my kids and always think of the ones left behind.  Many can have a future but only if the Russian people can see the good in adoption.  Have your older Russian adoptees write letters.  Sign petitions.  Contact the media to share your story.  Anything to try to help these kids.  Please.  I can not imagine my life without them as I'm sure it is the same for other parents. 

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