During our first adoption, news came out that adoptions were being threatened. My heart was filled with fear. I checked the news every 5 minutes and I was grieved over the thought that our adoption may fall through. A few weeks went by and we got through Christmas and January and nothing really changed with adoptions. I learned that the Russia/US relationship is pretty shaky, and adoptions are oftentimes threatened with this kind of news, but rarely does anything come of it.
So, fast forward three Christmases. We sit here in the same season we were in three years ago...adoptions to Russia are being threatened again. Over the last 2 weeks, a bill has been written up by the Russian lawmakers to ban adoptions from U.S. families. It passed through the lower level of government with a huge majority. A few days later, it passed through the next level. And just today, it passed through the upper level of the Russian parliament with a unanimous vote. The only thing that is left before it comes into a reality is a signature from President Putin.
I am, by no means a politician. I did not do well in social studies when I was in school and I have never really had strong interest in government and politics. I do not want to oversimplify the complicated facets of international relations with regard to politics. But this much I know:
- The U.S. passed a bill that calls for sanctions against Russians who are deemed to be violating human rights
- In response, the Russian government wrote up a bill that includes the ban of U.S. families adopting from Russia
- This bill has overwhelmingly passed through all of the levels of the Russian parliament (think senate)
I honestly don't think there is anyone to blame through all of this and truly, I don't even know what the right or wrong response should be. If this bill does pass, maybe it will be a chance for Russia to assess their child welfare system and make improvements. Maybe it will allow non-American families to adopt more children since the U.S. is not the only country that adopts from Russia. Maybe this bill will be the catalyst for America and Russia to take steps towards peace and reconciliation. It may have to get messy before it gets better.
But in all of this, my heart is sad for us. We have prayed hard, worked hard, and believed that our daughter is in Russia. If this bill passes, we will have to look at our financial losses and pray for a new path that leads to our daughter. We are not giving up. We believe that God does have a daughter for us somewhere in this world...and we believe it will be a little girl who will come from a situation that seems hopeless without the intervention of a loving family..and this may be the sharp, painful turn that leads us to her. In many ways, it feels like another negative pregnancy test, or a miscarriage. We have come so far in our journey to our little girl. We have prayed for her, thought about her, planned for her, talked about her with Dima...and now, we may have to go back to square one.
There are an estimated 80,000 children in Russian orphanages. And though there are many wonderful Russian families and families from other countries who adopt these children, the U.S. does account for a large chunk of giving these children homes and families. My heart is sad for these children who are going about their lives like they always do, having no idea that a "could be family" will not be because of two governments that can not get along.
"Children get frozen in the cold war", is a sign that one brave Russian held outside the parliament building yesterday. She was detained, along with others who joined in the protest. I received an email from a Russian friend who apologized on behalf of his country. I stay in touch with the kind and wonderful director from Dima's orphanage. And my heart will always be connected with the dear woman who housed us, fed us, translated for us, and loved us while we were in Russia. There are many, many Russians who care for children and know that international adoptions are one of the ways that the orphans in Russia can be cared for.
So we are left with all that there is to do: we pray. We pray for clarity and understanding among law makers and government officials - both here in the U.S. as well as in Russia. We pray for peace. But mostly, we pray for the children, that even through this chaos, they will somehow find a family that will love and care for them.
My dear friend, Jenna, has set up an event on Facebook to pray for this situation. Her hope is to have prayer happening around the clock until there is some type of resolution. If you would like to sign up for a time slot to pray or just join this group to share your encouragement, click HERE.
This is the roller coaster journey we have signed up for. We knew it would not be easy. We knew there would be bumps along the way. We knew that we would get to places along the path where we would feel completely stripped of all control or understanding.
We are in one of those places right now.
We want to walk through this with boldness and confidence that God has the whole world in his hands, that His heart deeply cares for orphans and those who have no one to advocate on their behalf. He is their advocate. We believe He can change hearts and minds. This is our prayer.
Thank you for praying and walking this road with us. There is no promise it will be easy. There is no promise it will turn out in the way we want. But there is absolute promise that God goes before us, that He comes behind us and that He hems us in. There is absolute promise that He is close to the broken hearted. There is absolute promise that He gives peace that passes all understanding.
We rest in those promises while the chaos of this broken world shatters around us.
Until next Monday,
love, Kate, Steve & Dima