I’ve said that nothing could surprise my anymore in international adoptions, especially with Russian adoptions, but I was wrong. This article in the New York Times, Russians Rally Against Adoption Ban in a Revival of Anti-Kremlin Protests, knocked my socks off, and for once it was in a good way. There is something in this story that I need to remember when thinking about all international adoptions regardless of the country–people are able to see through rhetoric better than I might assume. It’s a hopeful thought in this time of many threats to international adoptions.
In response to the Russian Parliament’s ban on future international adoptions to the US, anywhere from around 10,000 to 24,000 Muscovites took to the streets in what was called a “March Against Scoundrels.” The protesters chanted, “Take your hands off children,” and carried posters showing the faces of lawmakers stamped with the word “shame.”
Well I’ll be doggone.
Somehow I just assumed that the majority of Russian citizens had bought into the government’s outrage over the supposed mistreatment of a huge number of Russian children at the hands of their American parents. I wasn’t giving humans in general, and Russians in particular, enough credit for seeing the truth behind the rhetoric. “[M]any of the marchers became emotional in talking about why they took part. Some questioned the morality of a ban on adoptions by Americans in a country where so many children are in foster care or orphanages.”
The article pointed out this this support for international adoption for children who have no other options may not be universally accepted throughout the country. It seems that Russia, not unlike the US in some ways, is a country with a divide between how urban dwellers and rural or small town residents feel about many issues, including international adoption.
The Parliament member who sponsored the bill, Yekaterina Lakhovasaid said shortly after the march began: “I am especially surprised to see people gather at such a large action in support of American business — because for them, our children, Russian children, are factually, let’s put it this way, an object of trade.” She then got to what I suspect is the heart of her objection to Americans adopting Russian kids: “ Economically developed countries — and we do not consider ourselves a third world country, we are in the top 20 — do not give up their children to foreign adoption as much as we do.”
As I’ve said before, I understand why a country wants to be able to care for their own and suffers a hit to their pride when they are not able to. And, as I’ve also said before, we Americans need to own that we have 107,000 kids in our foster care system in need of adoptions, so we shouldn’t be so quick to cast stones. However, as one of the Russian marchers. Tamara Nikolayeva, said better than I ever could:
[The government has] decided to settle a score by using children, and it’s shameful. O.K., maybe at some point it will be better not to give our children away; we should take care of them ourselves. But first you have to make life better for them here. Give them a chance to study. Give them a chance to get medical treatment.”