Sunday, April 18, 2010

Too Many Orphans

A full week into the latest “Russian Adoption Scandal” and I am still angry. I am frustrated, surprised, nervous and sad all at the same time.

When a case like the Torry Hansen story makes headlines, not only are wrong facts reported, but opinions about adoption as a whole are posted everywhere and anywhere. This past week I read the following:

- Adoption parents aren’t real parents and the bond between adoptive parents and their children can never be as strong as biological parents and kids

- All adoptive Russian children are bad and damaged

- Adoptive parents want to steal biological parents kids (yes. seriously. I read it.)

- Parents who adopt from Russia are shopping for white kids with a clean slate who are perfect

I had to stop myself from reading some of the internet postings and face book pages that were reporting/discussing this story because my blood pressure was climbing and climbing.

I was also surprised that with the exception of a few friends and family, most of the people who wanted to discuss this story were limited to my “adoption circle” of friends. At first I was a little sad that some friends and family didn’t share my passion, but while I was writing my last blog post for “We Are the Truth”, it hit me. I didn’t get what a big deal this is until about 2 years ago myself.

Perhaps unless your life has been touched by adoption, it’s hard to grasp this story and the deep, strong feeling behind it. Similar for me was cancer. I didn’t want to THINK about cancer; it’s not fun OR sexy, so why dwell on it. Until it touched my life through some friends and family, cancer was something I didn’t want to HAVE to think about. I am not trying to put something as horrible as cancer on the same level as adoption, but more relating how when your life is effected by something, it changes your view on that subject.

On Friday I asked a question on face book, hoping to engage some people in this topic. The question was “How many estimated orphans are there in the world”. The answer I received the most was “too many”. That’s for sure. Typically I read 147 million as the official number. According to Wikipedia, the total population for Russia is approximately 142 million. So there are more orphans in the world than the total population of Russia alone.

Specific to Russia, where my daughter spent the first two and a half years of her life in an orphanage, it is estimated that there are 730,000 orphans accounted for. It is also suspected that the true number is over 1 million when all the homeless children living on the streets are added in. For kids in a Russian orphanage, the system ends at the ripe old age of 17. If they haven’t been adopted by then, they are sent to go start their lives – with nothing. Statistics say that within 5 years 90% of these kids are either homeless, in prison, addicted to drugs or acting as prostitutes. Last year 1589 children came home to the US from Russia (a relatively small # compared to years as recent as 2005/2006). If adoptions close to the US from Russia, that’s an additional 1589 kids that could linger in the system, without homes or hope.

When Tatiana and I landed in the United States on March 29th, 2009, more than just an amazing girl came home with me. Along with us came a lasting impression of a beautiful country that impacted me in so many ways. My daughter is Russian. And while she is now an “American” as well, it is important to me that her Russian heritage is a part of her life. Over the last year, I have created 3 picture books from my travels and my adoption story. As she gets older, theses books will be one of the many ways I help show her the beautiful place she was born.

Hope is a good thing. I hope that by sharing some of my story in this blog post and others, more people can understand adoption and why it is so personal to people. I hope that those families whose lives have been turned upside and inside out while waiting for their children to come home from Russia have a peaceful, happy ending and that more children can follow their path. And finally, I hope these pictures can show at least a glimpse of the wonderful country my daughter is from.

IMG_6932 IMG_6952 IMG_6975 IMG_6976 IMG_6995IMG_6977

A teaser for the next post… TWO Tatiana’s, together!


Nichole said...

I, too, could not believe some of the comments I read about adoption! It is maddening! I feel for so many families that are in limbo right now because of the threatened suspension and the darn Iceland volcano!!!

Bill and Michelle Curran said...

We have been super pissed about the ignorant comments that people leave as well. Very upsetting!

Becky and Keith said...

You absolutely have a way with words! This whole situation has shown so much ignorance in the world and you're right - unless you've been where we are - you might not care too much about the statistics. There are a bunch of videos on youtube about the "railroad children" - those that leave the orphanage at 17 and turn to an underground life. So, so devastating!

Can't wait to see the two T's! :-)

Frederick,Mackenzie,Noah,Hope said...

Amy I also get upset at people..but fighting with people & opinions, is like everything else in this life..pointless! Opinions will always want to be heard to sting...and most people will never have the blessing of being touched by adoption, let alone the experience of parenting through adoption. I have bio children and a newly adopted daughter, who doesn't feel any less mine than the boys...I labored the same way. Being an orphan is like cancer! Some people just get struck with the disease, the same way these children get 'orphaned'..its only the ones who care- who go on caring;( GOD cares though, and in HIM we should have hope!

Clarese said...

What a wonderful, informative, and powerful post, Amy. Thank you for sharing your thought so eloquently.

Bendlin Family said...

I am with you Amy, the comments that I have read about international adoption have made my blood boil. I read an article last week that said it "serves these people right to have RUssian adoption closed....They should not adopt abroad until each orphan in the US has a home". I dont get it....isnt a life a life and a child a child....We dont have insitutions here that have the severe effects that international systems have on children...O well, enough said. I totally agree.

Tracey and Chuck said...

Your words are all so true. Your posts are very inspiring!!! I try my very best to ignore the comments of ignorant people in this world. Thank goodness for all the blogging AP's we have who truely understand!!! Thanks for your note on our blog. We think he is quite a handsome boy too and are over the moon with how well he is adjusting!!! He was in Baby Home #1 in Vlad.

Troy and Rachel said...

Another very well written post. Thanks for sharing - can't wait to read your next post with two T's!