Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Russia calls for halt on US adoptions after boy is sent back

Many of you I'm sure have seen the recent news about the American woman who put her 7-year-old (recently adopted) Russian son, back on an airplane to Moscow, with a note attached for him to be delivered to the ministry of education. If you want the NY times version of the story you can click here

Being that I work in the sphere of orphan ministry and have helped with numerous adoptions over the years, people have been asking for my opinion on this whole situation.
After hearing the adoption community buzz and all of the expressed outrage against this 'unfit' mother, I have to say that there has been one huge oversight on the real issue at hand...an issue that is not receiving media attention.

First off, do I think that it was wrong to just send this little boy back to Russia in the way that this woman did? Yes. This has been the thrust of the media attention. Crazy, cruel woman. Poor little orphan boy.

What is clear to me is that this woman was in a crisis situation and she reacted in fear to a child that she was ill-equipped to parent. In the best case scenario she should have turned to local social agencies for help instead of sending the boy back to Russia-- as her decision has now had repercussions on the entire Russian adoption world-- immediate moratorium.

However, this is where the story has stopped in it's media coverage. I think the bigger question is why did the child act out in the way he did to begin with? Where did his bizarre and violent behavior come from? Russia and the world are currently reacting in anger and outrage at the irresponsibility of Americans (generalized of course) over ONE child that was sent back to an orphanage. It’s horrible I agree. But why are they not reacting with the same outrage and anger toward the Russian system that currently holds nearly 800,000 children captive in its orphanages? Why villanize just one woman, when a whole nation is not willing to take responsibility for a huge moral and social short-coming? Blame shifting is much easier.

And why are we not even more concerned about what is happening inside the walls of those orphanages? What is happening that is causing a child to act out in the way he did when he was placed in a family? What has childhood trauma and institutionalization done to rob these youth of their innocence? To me these are the biggest evils that this story exposes. It’s about sooo much more than one woman and one boy.

The NY Times article quotes that there have been 14 reported deaths of Russian children in America since 1996. However they neglect to report how many deaths have happened in Russia by adoptive Russian families as well as how many disrupted adoptions have occurred. That number is drastically higher.

This isn't a 'Russian children being murdered in American homes problem.' It's a lot bigger then that. What is clearer to me more then ever is that families who adopt need more education and training about what it means to parent traumatized and abused children (the vast majority of children adopted in Ukraine and Russia!). This is the bigger issue brought to light through the story of 7-year-old Artyom who was sent back to Russia. I'm not excusing what this woman did. I just think that by putting all the focus on the 'mean mom' that returns the 'poor little orphan' boy-- we take away from a deeper issue. What is being done to educate adoptive parents and what is being done to prevent children from being placed in the orphanage system to begin with?

I’m just asking the questions….and praying about how I can best be used as part of the solution.

Jesus, be with Artyom. Heal his wounded and broken spirit; destroy the wok of the enemy in his life. May you take the wounds of his past and turn them around for your glory. May his story be one of healing and redemption that will bring your name honor. And for the woman who couldn’t be his mother…Jesus comfort her as well, heal her anger and deliver her from fear bring those into her life that will love her and bring Godly counsel. In your mighty name…amen.


Heidi and Felix said...

RIght on, Karen.

I've been feeling/thinking the same thing. It's easy to point fingers and what she did was wrong, but it all started somewhere. I pray for all involved and for the countless thousands of children now affected by this bad decision.


Kari said...

Well said. I can see both sides of this story.

Kimbell and Mark said...

Karen, beautifully said. Hope all is well with you. Spending time with you was certainly a very bright spot while we were in Ukraine.

My name is Legion...no, not really. said...
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Bryna Brown said...

Thanks so much for your insight on this...It is always refeshing to hear from someone on the front lines and not just the local media. You have great wisdom and compassion, and I know that Jesus will continue to equip and guide you as you discuss these issues further with individuals. Karen its a blessing to hear what Jesus is doing in and through...also LOVE the new blog! Bryna