Russia, Politics, and Adoption

russia-grunge-flag--blueThe Olympic games draw a lot of attention and interest from people around the world. If you mention Russia right now, everyone’s first thought will probably be the games in Sochi. However, the Olympic games only last a short time, and they don’t eradicate problems within a country.

Russia has held a special place in my heart for a long time. It started when I read a story about a street boy in Russia, trying to survive in the aftermath of WWII. Something about the story touched my heart, and I started dreaming about someday adopting from Russia.  Unfortunately, unless something changes, that door is now closed to me and hundreds of others. A little over a year ago, Russia closed it’s doors to would-be adopters from the US.

Lots of people know about the scandals surrounding several Russian adoptions, including the story of a mother who put her adopted son on a plane by himself and sent him back to Russia. It’s easy to assume that stories like these caused Russia to close it’s doors to adoption. But that’s not the case.

I’d heard many times that the closing of Russian/US adoptions was political posturing, but never knew the full story until yesterday when someone mentioned a story featured recently on 60 Minutes. The video is embedded below.

Basically, an American business man working to fight corruption in Russia stepped on a few too many toes and ended up getting thrown out of the country. When Russian police raided his Russian office, seized ownership papers, and gave away control of his three companies, he hired a Russian man to investigate. The hired man uncovered more corruption and took it to court. A short time later, he was also arrested for tax evasion. He died after being held in prison for a year without a trial. The original American business man then flew his investigator’s family to DC and told American officials what happened. America responded by banning a bunch of Russians from the country. Russia responded by prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian children.

Now, I haven’t done a lot of research about the corruption in Russia or the validity of the American business man’s story. I assume he must have some pretty good evidence if the American government took action on his story. But the bottom line is that children are being kept from families who want them because of politics that have nothing to do with adoption. It is estimated that only 10% of children who grow up in Russian orphanages go on to live productive lives. A large majority turn to crime and prostitution.

I’m not sure what we can do about this. Like I said, I just learned the full story yesterday. But being educated about what’s going on and praying about it is a great first step. I encourage you to watch the video and follow the links throughout this post to learn more.