An Open Letter to Russia
Dear anyone in Russia who just wants to know how Russian Adoptees are doing in America ~
Our family had the great privilege of adopting our son from Russia. We met our son for the first time this month six years ago. We flew back twice after that and brought him home just before the end of that year. I know our countries have not been getting along, and I know it has little to do with adoption; except that it is effecting so many who wait for families. I thought you might want to see how this little boy has been doing since he left his little baby house.
I know there has been some discrepancy about the safety of Russians adopted by Americans. My son is one of the 60,000 children that have been adopted over the last twenty years by Americans. My son is one of 60,000 children that waited for quite some time on a Russian database, and when a Russian family could not be found, they were allowed to International families who were willing to accept Russia’s terms and requirements for adoption. We successfully provided everything Russia required from us up front and we diligently provided updates well within the time frame requested by his homeland. We were never upset about providing this information, it made us happy to know that his country wanted to make sure he was OK. We were happy to show that he was. We respected that adoption was a privilege, not a right and that we were visitors in your country. We were humbled that we were allowed to adopt, we remain humbled.
I want you to know our son is proud of his Russian heritage. He boasts to his friends that he rarely gets sick ‘because I am a strong Russian, and Russians never get sick.’ He boasts that he is tall, and will likely be taller than his whole family because “Russians are the tallest and strongest of all the people!” We tell him Russia is a strong country with beautiful buildings, people, countryside, and heritage.
I want you to know that he is smart. Oddly enough our son came to us with a special condition in his file that according to paperwork he would have likely been sent to a mental asylum rather than a school had he stayed in his country. We are not sure why this condition is on his chart. Some say it is an innocent accident. Some say it is a label put on many children that are born prematurely, which he was, but I honestly don’t know. But I wanted you to know he is smart, he finds it challenging to focus sometimes, but he is very, very smart. He reads two years above his grade expectations. He gets so excited about science and history and really just learning in general.
I want you to know he has a very good heart. He is sensitive and caring. He has two sisters that he loves so much, but he also needs one on one time. He doesn’t just want it, he needs it. His sensitive little heart really needs our undivided attention sometimes just to feel complete and secure. I want you to know that we are really doing our best to meet that need for him. It is really fun to drive around in the car just he and I .
My son loves to eat. He loves to take pictures. He loves to tell jokes and hates waiting his turn. He hates seaweed and kale, but loves just about everything else – especially bananas and hot cocoa. He loves to do ‘special treat things’ – which often means going to Target and looking at the toys. He loves to go garage sailing with me. He loves to help other kids, his teachers and camp leaders have told us many times that he likes to help the new kids. He loves superheros and Star Wars and Angry Birds. He loves going out to ‘fancy dinner’. Basically, he is just a regular kid.
I want you to know that even though he came home as a baby and doesn’t remember his time in the baby house, he worries for his little friends left behind. He asks us regularly about how many babies were at his orphanage, how many got families, what happens to them if they don’t get families, and so on. I want you to know he prays for those who wait. I wanted to share some of his actual prayers with you.
He prays that they get enough of what they need, he prays they have fun toys, and that all the babies get outside to play. Our son’s baby house took even the kids that couldn’t walk out to play twice a day, even in the snow; we are thankful that he came from a baby house that provided that for our son in his earliest months. He prays that they sleep good and are not scared in their sleep, because at six he knows there aren’t enough nannies to rock all of them if they all need it. He prays that people will adopt the babies and the big kids, even the big kids that have challenges, ‘even the big kids in wheelchairs’ he says.
He prays that other Countries will choose to adopt from Russia, because he knows Americans are not allowed to right now. “But why Mommy, you are from America and you are nice?” he says. He knows we had hoped to bring back a brother or sister (he was hoping for a brother) from his hometown someday, he know that for now that is not allowed and his innocent little mind simply thinks “If there are kids that need homes then any nice person should be able to adopt them.” <— direct quote. He prays that someday Russia and America can work things out so we can adopt there again.
But another thing he prays, and this is really with our leading (and I want you to know that), is that Russians will adopt. We explained to him that the only reason anyone could adopt in Russia is because for some reason adoption is not very popular in Russia. We’ve explained to him that there are lots of good families in Russia that can adopt, and it is free for them to adopt (he also pointed out that Russian families would not need to buy plane tickets like we did and that would make it cheaper, good point little guy), it just isn’t very common……
“Well, I am gonna pray that more Russians adopt, because that makes sense and because they are allowed to. Then the kids will get families quick and they won’t have to live in the orphanage.”
See? I told you he was smart. Smart and sensible, like so many Russians before him.
So anyway, I wanted to write this letter, in hopes that it might strike a chord with those reading it. I’ve read a lot of angry blog posts about the Russian Adoption Ban, I’ve read a lot (a lot, a lot, a lot) of sad blog posts. I understand all of those posts, I mean, my son is Russian, what if it had happened to us? I suppose I could write a similar post, but I think maybe because we have been home for a while, maybe our family is supposed to share a different message.
We know Russia is a strong and wealthy Country. We know Russia does not ‘need’ help. We don’t know why Russians do not adopt very often, but our prayer and hope is that maybe some Russians will see this smart, funny, handsome little man and know that there are tens of thousands just like him that wait for families and they might just choose adoption. Russia does not need help, but the kids that wait do – our prayer is just that they get families that love them. Our hope is that someday we can go back to our son’s homeland and bring him home a Russian brother or sister. We hope for mended relationships between America and Russia. We hope that until there are a lot less orphans in Russia, that Americans who are willing to provide all the documentation Russia could ever want will be allowed to adopt. But until that day, we hope that Russians will see the beautiful treasures they can add to their family waiting right in their own towns.
While it might be a tall order for a six year old to fill, I think maybe he is meant to inspire a few to adopt, and I hope this letter, and the pictures we share just might do that. My hope is that at the very least, everyone can see this testimony of a Russian Adoptee living in America. He is doing really well, we love him very much, and we thank Russia for the great honor and privilege of being his parents.