Attitudes change toward adoption in Russia

Anne Gerrols has been doing a series on Russia on NPR this week, and today's topic is adoption. Read the article and find a link to hear the piece here.

A commenter made this point:
I understand that some Russians feel that it is a bad thing for these children
to be sent out of the country but until Russia can adequately care for all their
children, international adoption can provide them with safety and opportunity
far beyond what is available for them in their birth country.
Adoptive parents have to stop using this line of reasoning as a justification for our adoptions. There are thousands upon thousands of children here in the U.S. who live in poverty and are hungry. We're doing a pretty poor job of taking care of them, but adoption of these children out of the U.S. is far less common than it is from other countries to the U.S. And yes, American children are adopted to other countries - often African American children, and often to Canada. We are a placing country, and therefore, in my opinion, in no position to judge other placing countries' care.

When I remove "a better life" from the list of justifications for my children's adoptions, I can look at the actual reasons with greater clarity. I'm left with what I've come to accept as a sense of paradox that simply has no explanation. Our family's happiness has come at a great price: the permanent grief and loss my children, their mothers and families do or may experience. I've come to accept it as a part of my family's life. But in any other life experience, we would question such pain and such a paradox. We need to do the same in adoption, intercountry adoption included.


Melissa said…
I appreciate your willingness to contemplate these issues honestly. Your insight in this particular post is very timely for me personally (as an adoptee), as I continue to wrestle with and sort through my often conflicting and contradictory sentiments and thoughts toward inter-country adoption. It is refreshing to encounter an adoptive parent who is willing to acknowledge the complexity of the issues...thank you...
Jonathan said…
This attitude of justifying adoption because you are giving a child a "better" life is infuriating. Not only does every country (including the US) have hungry, uncared for, or abused children in need of a family...but for me this line of reasoning gives way to a sense of entitlement and self-righteous that too many adoptive parents feel.

I adopted my son from Viet Nam. I cannot say with any type of certainty that I can give him a better life than had he stayed in Viet Nam. Sure I can offer what is probably a better education and I can buy him things to play with, and obviously I love and care for him immeasurably. But that's not necessarily better than what a child growing up in Viet Nam would experience - it's different - the better part is highly subjective.

Obviously there's a lot more to this than anyone can put in a comment or even a book for that matter...but this is one line of reasoning that really gets me fired up.
You are correct - it is a terrible paradox. I adopted two sons domestically. I think for both of them poverty or fear of poverty was the dominant reason their first parents relinquished them. Their family's poverty is wrapped in injustice and inequity. There is no way to rationalize that except to say I didn't want to leave them in foster care. Individually that makes sense; systemically it sucks.
KimKim said…
Dearest Margie,

I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2009!!!

lots of love
Anonymous said…
I am from Russia and I can tell that that is is rediculous. Have you ever seen a Russian orphanage? It is horrific! I worked one summer with orphans... Yes, you feel like adoting out of compassion to those abandoned, malnourished babies who do not hold their heads at 18 months! Russians in majority do not adopt. Children graduate from an orphanage with no resources and go straight to prison or to prostitution. They are sent, as adults, to most dangerous military operations because nobody cares for them. People who adopt those traumatized, sick, often difficult and genetically damaged children are saints. I am not sure I could ever have such a courage after what I saw!

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