For those of us fortunate to have adopted internationally, especially from Russia -- my ancestor's homeland -- today's headlines are maddening and saddening. I am especially struck as I think back to the adoption of my two youngest, from Russia, and the undeniable obstacles, roadblocks and sheer exploitation we endured, just to have what we so fervently and passionately desired -- our children and a family. With multiple and repeated unnecessary trips to Russia, countless dollars, tears and humiliating experiences and circumstances to endure, to have held our children in our arms and touched down on American soil (thus, cementing their citizenship) began the healing of it all.
I'm a rare breed -- someone who clearly understands the determination that Russians have in holding out (especially) Americans from their pool of orphans, much of it for good reason. With the country's population dwindling since World War II and families relegated to having only one (or two) children, it would make perfect sense that the Russian government retain as many citizens as it can. A handful of dramatically gut-wrenching cases against American families abusing and sometimes murdering their adopted Russian children has catapulted the fury and nationalism necessary to help regroup and refocus a country in dire straits.
But in the end, it is about the children. Most of us well know that the remaining orphans will not remain in orphanages for life, but will be sent back into society (ill-equipped) at some point in time before adulthood.
In our own case, people would exclaim, "Look at what you've done for them!" when addressing what they saw as a "mitzvah." But, truly, we never, ever embraced that approach, choosing to focus on all that they've done for us.
It remains most painful that this action is focused solely on Americans -- as if our good fortune to be able to afford, desire and choose to adopt children from Russia should be eradicated and we should all be punished. We, like parents everywhere, have chosen nothing more than to give our children the very best we can in opportunities, and in love. The proud and hopeful American parents waiting in the adoption queue want only the same.
Love. This is about love and life choices; perseverance, determination, willpower, strength, guidance, and conviction. It is about desire and free will, and the choice to have and to adopt; to love and be loved. This does not belong on the international playing field as a victory or defeat for the vanquished or the conqueror.
Perhaps a little more focus on Russia's own infrastructure, political system, injustices, unequal caste system and a variety of internal issues would help reset what has already tipped in the very wrong direction.