Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We're on the Record: It's About the Children

January 1, 2013....One week can change everything. When the lower house of the Duma, Russian Federation, voted on December 21st to ban adoption of Russian orphans by Americans, we were barely seven weeks into the new Bi-lateral Agreement on Inter-country Adoption, between the United States and Russia. It is a good agreement; requiring background information on the children, parenting education and a parenting plan for the adoptive parents, as well as a progress reporting structure and safeguards for adoptive children. As FRUA's liaison to the US Dept. of State's Office of Children's Issues, I represented FRUA and the voices of adoptive parents during the more than two years that our State Dept. spent crafting the agreement. FRUA's goal; to do what we can to help keep the doors of adoption open.

At the zenith of the reactive whirlwind, last Friday, December 27th, President Putin signed the swift and complete ban on adoption by Americans; shocking people around the world. On behalf of the National Board of Directors of FRUA, our regional chapters and membership world-wide, I issued a statement the next day, condemning the actions taken by the government of the Russian Federation, which had nothing to do with orphans and everything to do with turning the most vulnerable of children into political pawns.

The effects of this ban are heartbreaking for those 500 to 1,000 orphan children and the prospective American parents in-process to complete their adoptions. It is especially cruel for special needs children, who have virtually no chance to be adopted in Russia. Our government does not yet know how Russian will implement the ban, which went into effect today, but has indicated that it will advocate en-mass, on humanitarian grounds, for the completion of adoptions in process.

As an organization, FRUA believes in children's basic human right to grow up in families that love and protect them and get them the help they need to reach their potential, whatever that may be. We encourage humanitarian action by the Russian government, allowing those American families in-process to complete their adoptions.

In condemning this action, FRUA,has made a special point that our condemnation of this political action by the Russian government in no way relates to our great admiration for the people of Russia, millions of whom we know to be caring and generous, thousands of whom took care of our children prior to adoption, and who support the rights of orphan children to grow up in families. We point out that by adopting children from Russia, we have added the Russian heritage to our families forever.

Of course it is best for a child to be adopted by a family in the home country. But if no families there come forward to adopt them; then surely it is better for a child to be adopted by a willing family wherever they may be, than to leave that child to languish alone, in an institution, to grow up to an uncertain future. Since 1991, over 60,000 Russian orphans have been adopted, and are growing up... successful, happy, loved...in families in the United States. Because this is about the children...this is truly where the truth lies.

Sincere hope for a brighter 2013,

Jan Wondra
Vice Chair/Acting National Chair
National Board of Directors
Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption