Our first priority needs to be that every child is in a safe, loving family. We cannot allow politics to get in the way of ensuring children without homes are afforded every opportunity to be paired with loving families who will provide the nurturing environment they so desperately need. I realize that might sound overly simplistic, but if we are ever going to make the necessary strides in our ongoing efforts to minimize the global orphan crisis, governments must put the well-being of vulnerable children above political ideology.
While I wholeheartedly support efforts to safeguard and protect children, with the recent introduction of a bill threatening to ban adoptions to the U.S., I fear that Russia may be putting its political objectives above the personal welfare of thousands of innocent waiting children. Russia claims that such legislation is necessary given instances over the past two decades of child abuse by American adoptive parents against adopted children from Russia. However, according to media reports here in the U.S., many see the move by Russian politicians as retaliation to a recent law introduced in the U.S. that imposes U.S. travel and financial restrictions on human rights abusers in Russia.
As a leading child welfare organization, Bethany Christian Services applauds Russia’s concern for the welfare of its children adopted in the U.S. and abroad. The welfare of vulnerable children should be of primary concern for leaders in all countries around the world. This is why organizations such as Bethany work diligently with local governments in developing nations to implement sustainable family welfare programs. It is why, like Russia’s politicians, we fully support higher adoption criteria and standards aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of all children placed for adoption.
Whether it’s the U.S., Russia, China, Ethiopia, or wherever, our ultimate objective should be to create systems where children can remain with their biological families or be placed with loving families within their home country. In those instances where placement with a loving family outside the home country is the best alternative, we must ensure the protection of the adoption triad – the birthparents, adoptive parents, and most importantly, the adopted child.
It is with the protection of the adopted child in mind that the Hague Adoption Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation of Respect of Inter-Country Adoption was forged in the early 1990’s. The Convention established international standards of practices for inter-country adoptions. The U.S. signed the Convention in 1994. Bethany’s mission is to demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by protecting and enhancing the lives of children and families through quality social services. Bethany currently only works with countries that have also demonstrated a commitment to the welfare of its children by signing the Convention.
I’m hopeful that Russia’s political leaders will see that the surest way to protect its children is not to prevent them from being placed with families here in the U.S., but rather by joining the Hague Adoption Convention and working only with agencies devoted to following stricter adoption standards.