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.
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.