Huffpost Canada Living ca
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Melissa Bridges Headshot

Dear Russia

Posted: Updated:

Tonight, my heart is heavy.

I have tried and tried to find words to talk about your government's plan to ban American adoption of Russian orphans. I've started countless posts and just keep having to start over. My words seem inadequate against such a large issue. But tonight, I want to try.

You see, my heart hurts. It hurts for those 40+ families that have already fallen in love with their children, are between trips, and may not be able to bring their kids home... as well as for the families who have planned to adopt from Russia (Nathan and myself, possibly included). But more than that, my heart hurts for the children in Russian orphanages that may never have the opportunity to bless and experience the blessing of having a family.

I have read countless articles and discussions. I have heard others speculate that your government enjoys watching American families writhe about this -- about the fact that we won't be able to continue completing our families with Russian children. I don't know that this is true, but if it is, I think they are sorely missing the point.

Because, you see, this is not about us. My heart hurts because I have been inside several Russian baby homes. Expecting to hear cries or laughter, I have heard the eerie quiet of over 100 babies who have learned to stop crying for someone to meet their needs. I have seen children who are glassy-eyed, needing love, nutrition, and someone to play with them. The orphanage caregivers often do the best they can with the resources they are given, but at the end of the day, the caregivers must go home to their own families. The cold walls of the baby home are the only constant in the lives of orphans, and at the end of a work shift, children in the baby homes are left without knowing a true family.

My heart hurts because I have seen the photo listings that include photos of my own children... as well as the signatures of Russian citizens who have viewed and turned down my children for seemingly no real reason at all. Perhaps they had their reasons, but my heart still hurts for the tiny babies my boys once were.

In no way am I saying that international adoptions can be a cure for the issue of finding homes for all of your country's 700,000+ orphans. This is an issue that -- as stated by President Putin and others -- should be taken on by yourselves, as Russian citizens. And if you -- as a whole country -- were both willing and able to adopt all of your orphans, then I would be thrilled beyond measure.

But the reality is that 700,000 children is an enormous amount of children and without a concrete plan, Russian domestic adoption of all orphans will probably not happen in this lifetime. And until that CAN be the case, why not allow the little bit that others can do to help alleviate some of the strain that is already unbearable in some parts of your country?

Contrary to what you may've been told -- and to what I've read in articles and comments on articles -- Russian children do not come to America to die. Their organs are not sold and they are not used for slavery. There is absolutely no excuse for ANY abuse and neglect of children, regardless of where they were born, raised or adopted from. And, for the (fewer than) 20 cases of neglect and abuse involving former Russian orphans, there are TENS of THOUSANDS of children who are living in good, happy homes, free from abuse and neglect.

My own children are two of those thousands.

Finally, I understand the sentiment of wanting to keep children in the country of their birth. I do understand this. But I also want you to know just how MANY Americans are actually gearing up to celebrate Russian Christmas... because of the children we were blessed with from Russia. I also want you to know that thousands of American families do our best to incorporate Russian culture into our homes because we want our children to know where they come from. We recognize that our children are both American citizens and Russian citizens, until they are old enough to decide -- for themselves -- what to do with this dual citizenship. We take them back to the country of their birth when we are able to afford to do so.

As parents, we do not hate your country. We love your country. While we may have done a small part of helping to alleviate the strain in the orphanages of your country... children born in your country have blessed our lives beyond measure. We care for them. We love them and clothe them and teach them about you. They are special... and without making them feel different, we hope to help them understand just how special they are.

Ten years ago, I would've never said my life today would've even been possible. However, in the past six years, I have visited Russia four times. I have two children from Russia. I have a special place in my heart for Russia and want my children to also have that special place in their hearts. At the same time, I do not understand how the children who are in orphanages should really be pawns in political games.

My heart does not hurt for OURSELVES. I am simply hurting for the children who suffer at the brutal -- and potentially lethal -- hand of political hardheadedness.

Please continue to join me in praying about this situation... for the hearts of the Russian leaders as well as for ALL children in the world. We have a common ground in that children are a gift from God and should be treated as such.

Sincerely,

A mother of two precious Russian-born children

This post originally appeared on The Middle That Counts.