Archive for December, 2012

Russian Adoption Ban: More than just an adoption news story!

December 28, 2012

19 years ago today my husband and I were counting the last few days until we could fly to Russia to finally bring our daughter Tanya home.  Today we are shocked and saddened by the news that President Putin has signed the bill banning US adoptions of Russian children.  We are sickened to read  that the passing of this bill  has little to do with adoption itself and more to do with retaliation for our own government’s passing of the  Magnitsky Act.  Ironically, this act was passed  to send a human rights message to Russia and instead it has created a new and even more haunting human rights issue.

My heart aches for the US families in the process of adopting who may now never see their precious children come home.  More importantly, my heart breaks for every Russian child whose fate, because of this bill,  will be to grow up in an institution; a fate that the research clearly tells us has dire consequences.  The children are the real victims in this drama.  This is much much more than an adoption news story.  This is much more than the political maneuverings of two countries’ governments   This is a children’s human rights issue.

The simple fact is that the signing of this bill means that thousands of Russian orphans who would have had homes, will now languish in orphanages.  Unacceptable.  It is not unacceptable to me just as an American or just as an adoptive mother or even just  as someone who educates adoptive parents about the very real needs of children who have waited in orphanages.  It is unacceptable to me as a human being.  It is unconscionable to  know that institutional care creates undeniable issues for the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well being of children and then to enact policy that actually means more children will suffer this fate.

As an adoptive parent, I have always taught my daughter that her father and I are the lucky ones.  I’ve never liked it when people told us how lucky she was to have us.  She was and is our dream come true.  It seemed insane to think of her as the lucky one.  But today, I am forced to imagine what would have happened to our Tanya, and the more than 55,000 other children that were adopted from Russia since then, if they had played out their years in a Russian orphanage.  It is chilling to  think of what would have been lost  to our Tanya, to us, and to the world, if  she (and the others) had not come home to us.

tanya life 2

Feel free to respond to this blog with your own pictures and stories.  And as this tragedy plays out in the days and weeks to come please help to educate the people around you that this is much more than an adoption news story.  Reach out to your senators and representatives and tell them that you expect our government to continue to fight for these children’s human rights.  And if you are blessed with children that are home safe and sound, hug them tightly and commit to teaching them about human rights and our responsibility as members of the human race to fight for them.

Heart of the Matter HOME



281 Voices: Adult Adoptees Describe Contact with Birth Family Members

December 10, 2012

281 voicesAs we release the 2ND SNEAK PEEK  into the information gathered in our survey of 281 adult adoptees about open adoption, once again I am reminded that there is no cookie cutter formula for open adoption.  Open adoptions are as different as all the people involved in them.

While the top three words used by our survey group were the same whether their adoptions had always been open or were closed and later became open, we also found that the majority of these folks used a mix of positive, negative and neutral words to describe contact. For example:

One participant who was adopted at birth and whose adoption was closed but became open when they were a young adult chose, “enjoyable, easy, difficult, interesting, safe, exciting, informative, healthy, stressful, fun, loving, respectful and a pleasure”  to describe contact.

Another individual who had contact with birth family members while growing up described it as, “enjoyable, difficult, interesting, exciting, sporadic, uncomfortable, normal, unusual, strained, stressful and fun”.

This shouldn’t be surprising.  After all, how many people can you describe in only positives or negatives?  In fact,  it’s hard to imagine that one would even bother to have a relationship with a person if there were only neutral feelings about them!

The question is, what does this mean for adoptive parents who have the opportunity to facilitate an open adoption with their child’s birth family members?

It helps set realistic expectations.  As parents our natural inclination is (or should be!) to jump to protect our kids from negative things.  However, if adoptive parents know that there are likely to also be positives to be gained, then they can weigh those positives and negatives to make a more informed, measured decision as to what is best for their child.

It’s a reminder that birthparents/birth family members are real people.  I believe that the adoption community and our society tends to paint birth parents in extremes.  Angel or devil… hero or villain… saint or sinner…?  But, at the end of the day “birthparent” is only a person just like the rest of us and I suspect that if they were given a list like this one and asked to describe the adoptive parents they would have a mixed response, too!  Furthermore, if we are really talking in a real way, let’s remember that not all adoptees are perfect, either!  🙂

It reminds us that relationships ebb and flow.  I don’t think it’s an accident that both “normal” and “unusual” were selected by the same person.  The quality of relationships can change.  Beyond that, an adoptee may describe their contact with different family members in different ways.

Next, we will look at what benefits they see in open adoption.


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