Saturday, December 29, 2012

Politics threatens the homes of Russian orphans

I am a member of District Six in Little People of America.  The district includes Illinois and Wisconsin.  A few years ago, through LPA, I met a couple that lives in Wisconsin.  The couple is average stature.  They are a part of LPA because of their daughter, who is a dwarf and who is from Russia.  The couple had adopted her.  The first time or second time I met the couple, they told me the story behind the adoption.  According to the story they told me, the orphanage was very surprised that the couple was interested in a girl with dwarfism.  Officials from the orphanage said something like, "are you sure you want her?"  In other words, the orphanage meant, "are you sure you want to adopt a child with dwarfism?" 

But in addition to the girl from District Six of LPA, there is also Tatyana McFadden, a Gold Medal Paralympic Athlete.  She spent the first few years of her life in a Russian Orphanage before she was adopted and she moved to the United States.  In the United States, she trained to become a World Champion Athlete and her advocacy led to legislation that has opened up high school sports to athletes with disabilities. I am sure that there are examples of children in the United States who are put up for adoption simply because they have a disability. But so long as there are children in Russian Orphanages, or orphanages anywhere in the world, and there are adults who want the opportunity to give those children a good home and the chance at a good life, it would be a shame if deserving parents weren't given that opportunity.  That may be the case in Russia.  According to a story from The New York Times, Russian President Vladimer Putin just signed a bill that bans the adoption of Russian children by Americans. Evidently, the ban is retaliation against United States efforts to punish human rights abuses in Russia. 

Last year, 1,000 Russian children were adopted by US citizens.  When the bill goes into affect, it is sure to impact some would-be US parents now in the adoption process.  According to same New York Times article, there are around 120,000 children in Russia eligible for adoption.  There are bound to be good homes for those children, whether it be in Russia or in other countries.  But it is tragic to think that some of those children may suffer the loss of a good home because of politics between Russia and the United States. 

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