30,000 Orphans Sent Back to Russian Orphanages

News outlets are carrying the troubling report that one of every three children adopted by Russian families from Russian orphanages in the past three years have been returned to state institutions.  This means roughly 30,000 children were sent back to their orphanages.

This news comes on the heals of the recent uproar over the tragic story of the American woman who sent her adopted Russian son back to Russia.

The reports claims a key cause for the disturbing trend in Russia the fact that the Russian government has failed to maintain many of the payments it had promised to adoptive families.  When the payments stopped, the report claims, many of the families decided to return the children.

This situation highlights an array of issues every Christian orphan advocate should keep in mind:

  • Children growing up in institutions often carry deep wounds and profound needs.  To choose to love such a child—via adoption, foster care or otherwise—can be a very challenging road.   It is a discipleship journey, often full of joys, but also refining.
  • If adoption and other forms of orphan care are taken on with the wrong motives, whether for financial gain or otherwise, trouble is likely ahead.  If we are to “stick with it” through thick and thin, our choices must be rooted first and foremost in the love of the God who first loved us despite our destitution and profound need.
  • To love an orphan along a long, difficult road to wholeness, it’s tremendously important to have a Christian community to walk the road with us.  In addition, the guidance of true experts—from families that have experienced the challenges we face, to psychologists like Dr. Karyn Purvis—is also indispensable.
  • As American Christians discover the truth of this prior point, it’s vital that we help grow that vision beyond the U.S.   I believe that over time, the single most important thing American orphan advocates can do is to help local churches worldwide care for orphans near to them via adoption, foster care and other means.
  • Potential problems in international adoption are equaled—and often far exceeded—by the realities orphans face daily in many countries.  Most all of us felt angry about the American woman returning her adopted son to his Russian orphanage; but for anti-adoption advocates to claim the situation was an argument against international adoption was simply false.