Wonder of wonders, for the first time in a long while around the subject of international adoption, I feel hope. I’m talking about the protests in Russia against President Putin’s banning of international adoption.
For days, my friend Sveta, who grew up in Russia and reads the daily Russian news, had been posting on Facebook that thousands of Russian citizens in fact support international adoption and disagree with Putin’s ban. Lo and behold, Sveta was right. (As if I ever doubted her. I’ve never known Sveta to be wrong about anything!)
Sveta sent me a link to some photos in the Russian press, my favorite of which is posted above. Look at that staggering number of people! The other photos are equally powerful. Sveta translated one of the banners as reading, “Mothers have no nationality.”
The New York Times also reported on the rally, calling it a ”Revival of Anti-Kremlin Protests,” and quoted one woman: “They have decided to settle a score by using children, and it’s shameful,” Ms. Nikolayeva said as friends gathered around, nodding their encouragement. “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.”
I like Ms. Nikolayeva’s statement because it speaks to the shame that is often the subtext of international adoption: the feelings of inadequacy that a country can’t “take care of its own.” But, as Ms. Nikolayeva said, “First, you have to make life better for them here.” If that’s not happening—and for myriad complicated and entrenched reasons, it sadly often doesn’t—why should a child be deprived of an opportunity to find a life with a permanent, loving family elsewhere?
May the protest by thousands of Russian citizens be a harbinger of positive change in the larger world of international adoption: more stringent accountability, more humane practices, and better sense.
Image credit: Novayagazeta.ru