The Russian Adoption Ban; It Doesn’t Apply to American Foster Children

We can't help everyone, but everyone can help someone. ~ Ronald Reagan

Lately in the news I have seen a lot of heartbreaking stories about the Russian ban on American adoptions and how it has effected hundreds of American families stuck somewhere in the process of adopting from Russia.  This would be terrible if we were just talking about all the time, paperwork, money, and lost dreams of adoptive American families who missed the cut off date and now cannot complete adoptions.  It’s even worse when we think about the children waiting for families that they will never meet now.  But this adoption ban becomes even more tragic with you consider the families that traveled to Russia and actually met their adoptive children, but were not yet able to take them home.  Some families have made multiple trips to Russia, meeting these children, learning their personalities and growing to love them.  The children have met and learned about their new parents, and were anticipating a new life with a loving family that may never come now.

According to news reports, there are somewhere between 600,000 and 750,000 Russian children not living with their biological families.  A majority of those are in foster care, but somewhere around 130,000 children are living in orphanages.  Many of these have physical or mental disabilities, and I think most of us have heard enough stories about Russian orphanages to understand this is a blow many Russian children will not recover from.  President Putin’s ban, signed last December, is in retaliation for an American law allowing Russians who violate human rights to be punished, and it has done nothing to help the most vulnerable of his own people; the Russian children.

For the average American family, including those who had a dream to adopt from Russia, there is nothing they can do except pray for a better life for the children and a political change that will benefit them.

But life doesn’t end here for American’s wishing to adopt.  There are other statistics that are just as heartbreaking.  Let me give you some:

  • In the US there are over 400,540 children in foster care.  Of those, 115,000 are eligible for adoption.
  • An eligible child waits an average of 3 years to be adopted.  Some children wait much, much longer.
  • Every year, 27,000 kids ‘age out’ of foster care, starting a life without emotional and financial support needed for success.
  • In 2011, nearly 60,000 children were placed in group homes instead of traditional foster homes.
  • A quarter of the children ‘aging out’ of foster care do not have a high school diploma.  These children have a very high rate of homelessness, unemployment and criminal history as adults.  Children raised in orphanages have anIQ roughly 20 points lower than their peers.

I could go on; these statistics are available all over the internet.  I certainly don't mean to be insensative to the families touched personally by this ban, and I know one child is never 'replacable' with another.  But the point is this: if we as potential adoptive parents have no power to change the situation in Russia, could we not look closer to home?  Maybe what has happened in Russia is a turn in your path, not the end of it?  Could your path not lead now to a loving and needing child in foster care right here in the US?

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