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