This morning Vladimir Putin signed the bill (that had already passed through Russian Parliament) into effect. Russia will no longer be allowing US families to adopt their orphans. Not us. Not even those in process; an estimated 46-52 children (depending on the report you read) who are already promised to US families will now be cut out of the process entirely and caused to stay in Russia.
This after our being interviewed for two news stations yesterday about our thoughts on the “pending” ban. One can be seen on the website for Denver CBS 4 (once they post it) and the other on Colorado Springs KKTV 11.
After our interview was posted on the news’ website page, a coupe of people commented:
Commenter #1: “I understand couples wanting a baby, but why not adopt a baby here in the U.S.? Makes me wonder if they can’t pass the adoption regulations here so they go to a foreign country? Just wondering.”
Commenter #2: “Russians need to learn to help their own children and US children need real homes with US parents. I hope this passes.”
Commenter #3: “It’s sad that this couple has gone thru this ordeal to have it fall apart at the last minute but as long as there are children without parents in the United States waiting to be adopted, our country needs to put strict restrictions on overseas adoptions. Take care of our own orphans that are placed in foster homes where some are taken in just for the extra money. Now before anyone jumps all over me about that statement, not all foster care is like that. It would be nice if every child had a home and a loving family, but let’s start here at home first.”
Besides the comment made by my own mother (bless her heart), this represents all comments made. Is it me or do people seem callous and unenlightened? I posted this response:
Sarah Wells: “We have been asked many times about why we would choose a foreign adoption over a local one. The fact is, we are not against one or for the other. All children who are without families need a loving family. We believe that God has clearly instructed us to take care of the widows and orphans (James 1:27). Is God a god of the whole world or not? Does He desire us to follow His will only in our backyard? I believe He does want this, but I also believe He is God of all and we are implored to love everyone, the world over. I see interracial and interethnic families as beautiful examples of the intertwining of all God’s people. From a more fiscal and logistical point of view, the children here in America have a different future than those in Russia (as an example because I feel familiar with the Russian orphan’s plight). In America, an orphan is in the foster care system. Not a system without flaws, to be sure, but a system that offers that chance to attach and bond with a loving family even without adoption. This is the key to mental and emotional health as children age. (Not that a permanent family isn’t better, because it is.) In Russia, there are a few regions which offer foster systems but most offer dank and under-funded orphanages in which the children have few caretakers and less opportunity to bond. They are malnourished and the children I have seen look like they are seven or eight years old when they are actually 14 and 15. The Russian population is a great people who certainly are generous and could be expected to take care of their own orphans, and many do. But by and large, they are not as financially able to do so as a “wealthy” people like the Americans. So I find that the answer may be for us to take care of our own, but also for those who have the means to adopt from abroad and lessen the world strain on those orphans who have little chance of being helped by their own poor countries. The main point is, take care of the orphans. They are not in their situation by choice. They are helpless victims and need love and support.”
I reads this from a news report straight out of Moscow: “UNICEF estimates that there are about 740,000 children not in parental custody in Russia while about 18,000 Russians are on the waiting list to adopt a child. The U.S. is the biggest destination for adopted Russian children — more than 60,000 of them have been taken in by Americans over the past two decades.” The implications are huge. America is a land of wealth and means. And we have been sharing that with orphans from Russia and will no longer be allowed to do so. I see no good in this. And then I read this quote passed along by a friend (I don’t believe it is an official news quote)…. “Putin signed the ban on American adoptions saying 19 kids died out of 60,000 over the course of 20 years. People, more than that died in Russian institutions YESTERDAY.”
All of this makes Josh and I stop and think, “What about our plans to adopt from Russia? Was that not God-inspired?” We have wanted to adopt from Russia since Josh slipped a ring on my finger 14 years ago. We followed a $25,000 adoption reimbursement fund to Houston in order to facilitate this dream. We have fund-raised, prayed, and fasted. We have depended on God to lead us to the day when we would take off in a plane headed back to the US from Moscow with a new little girl in our arms.
So what’s the deal? How could God close this door? A little commentary now, if you’ll indulge me: First of all, God is not Head Puppeteer. He lovingly created us to be in communion and relationship with Him, and we turned down this amazing offer in order to fulfill our own need for control. (Eve ate the apple in the garden not because she was hungry, but because the serpent promised her she would “be like God.” (Genesis 3:1-6) So God respected Adam & Eve’s choice for independence from Him (a choice knitted wholly into all of our genes as their offspring) and allowed them to leave His presence and be their own “gods,” to control their lives in every way and forge ahead on their own. And to this day we do just that. The Russians are limiting their orphans’ chance at finding a permanent family, not our God. God’s heart for the orphans is clear, and He would never cause pain to them (or anyone). God implores us to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:27)
Not being able to adopt from Russia does not cause us to falter. We desire to be in God’s will and be available to Him to spread His glory throughout our community. Our mission is simply His mission; help the orphans. So, my friends, whether it be from Russia (though that ship has sailed) or Ethiopia or China or Peru, we will pursue adoption as a way to share God’s amazing love and His story of salvation for the human race. We will do it because we have love and excitement to share. We will do it because there are children who have seen terrible things and don’t have anyone to comfort them. We will do it because this life is short and meaningless compared to what awaits us, and with that vantage point, selflessness becomes a privilege and a joy.
So I know that may be a little deep, but I wanted to share our hearts with you. And I want you to feel comfort through our comfort, which comes from our knowledge of the Bible and all that God has done, and will continue to do, for us- His creation.
Coveting your prayers for our family’s next steps and direction.
Praying that you and your family feel as blessed as we do to share this world at present and be able to lean on each other and cry with each other and rejoice together. And praying that even through the darkness of this world, God’s Kingdom will break in and shed a ray of light in this plight for the world’s orphans.