Adoption and Orphan Care

Russia’s Orphans at Risk Again

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As I write this, I am waiting for my wife and children to return from a few days away visiting some of her relatives. In that van headed for Louisville are our first two sons, whom we met for the first time a decade ago in a Russian orphanage. Other babies, like they were, are in jeopardy again.

ABC News is reporting that the ruling United Russia Party is threatening to ban all U.S. adoptions in retaliation for President Obama signing into law sanctions for Russia’s abysmal record on human rights. In order to defend their horrifying lack of respect for human dignity, some Russian bureaucrats are willing to sacrifice the lives of their own children, languishing by the thousands in orphanages as we speak.

This would be no issue, of course, if the orphanages of Russia were empty. That’s what we should pray and hope for, everywhere.

Adoption is an important but secondary aspect of orphan care. The first priority is to keep families together, and to alleviate the conditions (poverty and substance addiction, chief among them) that create fatherlessness in the first place.

But, in the meantime, the orphans are there, in a country with very little adoption culture. If international adoption were restricted or outlawed, the stakes are too awful to contemplate.

Even with adoption possible, mass numbers of Russian orphans never make it out of the orphanage, until their eighteenth birthday when they are “aged out,” and suddenly on their own.

These children, with a background of trauma, non-existent family support systems, and no preparation for independent life typically turn to a life of drug abuse, prostitution, and suicide.

We in the Moore family have a stake in this. Two of us are Russian by birth; the rest of us are Russian by adoption. When Ben and Timothy came into our home, the rest of us were tied, inextricably, with what the Apostle Paul would call our “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3).

But, more than that, all of us have a stake in this. The orphans of the world, whether in Russia or India or Alabama, are among the most vulnerable imaginable. And Jesus has identified the “least of these” as his brothers and sisters (Matt. 25:40). When we care for them, we care for him.

So take a moment to pray for the orphans and widows. Remember particularly the hundreds of thousands of little ones looking out the windows of Russian orphanages today, wondering if their future is with a family or trembling alone on a sidewalk.

In a few hours, I’m going to hug my Russian-born sons, and I’m going to pray that many now where they once were will know, soon, what it’s like to have a mom and a dad and, best of all, a capital-F Father.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.