As you have likely seen by now, President Putin of Russia signed the bill that effectively bans inter-country adoptions to the United States. Let me give you a few statistics that will help you understand the magnitude of its impact.
- There are currently 52 families that have been matched to children, and are close to finalizing their adoptions. Some of these are literally days away from being complete, and in most cases, the child will have to start the waiting all over again.
- There are between 500-1000 families that are in the process of trying to adopt from Russia, meaning they had not been matched to a child yet, but were somewhere along the journey to find their child.
- About 1000 are adopted from Russia annually (down from 5-6 times that amount just a few years ago).
- Over 15,000 teenagers “age out” of orphanages every year, expected to live on their own without a family support system.
- Approximately 110,000 orphans live in some form of orphanage in Russia, but there are nearly 700,000 total orphans in Russia.
In short, the numbers are dreadful, and they show us that the move today by the Russian government will not benefit children. Russia is using this bill to directly retaliate against the US for passing the Magnitsky Act. That bill was named for an attorney who uncovered details of a tax fraud scheme and reported the officials involved, only to be accused of tax fraud himself and was imprisoned. While in prison, he was allegedly tortured and beaten, and then died of his injuries after not being given sufficient medical care. With Magnitsky’s death still being investigated more than three years later, the Magnitsky Act denies US visas to any official suspected to be involved in his death, and also freezes their US assets. So in effect, Russia is now defending rich, corrupt officials by making pawns of marginalized and defenseless children…..their OWN children, mind you.
Russia has defended itself saying that their bill was motivated by the nearly 20 cases over the last decade where Russian adopted children were abused or even died under the care of their American parents. While I am all for defending children at all costs, I would say that this reason is a bit hollow given that the US and Russia just signed a new adoption agreement less than 2 months ago. That agreement took about 15 months to negotiate, so if it didn’t cover all the Russian government’s concerns, can we really believe that this new bill brought about one week after the Magnitsky Act was passed is truly warranted to further protect their children? Were they just not detail-oriented enough over that 15 month period to cover everything? I don’t have to say this, but I’ll say it anyway: that’s just not believable.
Let me be clear and say that I want all children to be protected, and 20 is not an insignificant number of cases of abuse to me. But given that there were over 32,000 adoptions from Russia to the US during that time period, that is .06% of the adoption case. That is 6/100ths of 1%. Quite literally, that seems like throwing the baby out with the bath water.
My wife, Brandon, and I have gone through the gamut of emotions today: anger, resentment, confusion, sadness, you name it. We’ve spent a lot of time talking with people via email, phone, text, social media, etc. We’ve also read story after story of parents who have had their chance at parenthood yanked out from under them. I can’t imagine their grief, and I pray that they have family and friends as wonderful as ours who have wrapped around us and supported us from the beginning.
But the most wonderful redeeming fact through all of this is that we serve and are loved and comforted by an amazingly beautiful and gracious God. He sees the actions of a handful of politicians in Moscow who are sacrificing the welfare of innocent children in order to protect the interests of their rich counterparts. The Bible overflows with the message of caring for orphans. Not much angers God more than people who take advantage of those easily forgotten by this world, and there is no one who better epitomizes that than orphans.
They are voiceless: we must give them a voice. They are weak: we must be strong for them. They are marginalized: we must make them the center of our plans for justice. Even if we do not get the privilege of seeing the good that ultimately will win out over this evil, we must continue to fight for them. The God we serve is just, and He will see to it that the guilty are punished. We may also not be able to see how He weaves good into the ashes of this mess, but that, too, will happen. We all must have faith that it will, even though it may never be apparent to us. No group of men is stronger than Him, and the last verdict on this matter is already written, and the victory is God’s.
“Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” – Isaiah 10:1-2
“For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice, the upright will see his face.” – Psalm 11:7
All of this is obviously much easier to say or write than it is to truly feel and believe it. It is also much easier to write this when it is not my child that has been torn away from me. I pray for all those who are in that situation tonight, and that God’s people wrap around and support you. May your faith in Him be made stronger amidst your own weakness, even while you can’t see how any good can come from this. May you one day be able to look back on this as simply a sidetrack while on your journey to parenthood. May you be able to look back and know without a doubt in your mind that God has woven together your family with the absolute love and care that only our Father could have.
“I remain confident in this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” – Psalm 27:13-14
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21