By Liz Hulley

To be honest, I haven’t devoted a lot of time lately to researching the adoption/foster care scene in Russia. There was a time when I regularly sought information and was up on the latest laws and statistics.

We ran into a lot of seemingly dead-ends while trying to push for adoption in St. Petersburg. There were a lot of obstacles, such as the endless paperwork and the impossibility of providing a bigger home for each potential family. The law says that there must be a certain amount of living space per person, but offers no solution for obtaining such housing if the family’s income is too low. That’s one example. This is not to mention all of the emotional, psychological, and social implications.

As part of our research, we had traveled to Vladimir to learn more about a ministry there that had been fairly successful in “redistributing” children in families and group homes. But I was shocked as we got in the van the first day for the tour, and our guide, herself a Christian and former orphanage worker, told us, “I’m not in favor of adoption.”

Not in favor of adoption? That’s an attitude shared by many in Russia. Although there are public service announcements showing happy adoptive families, there is still a fairly weak infrastructure to support adoption. Foster families get more benefits and it is seen as the easiest and best choice all around.

Here’s an article about some of the efforts to promote domestic adoption in Russia. It’s from 2007, but is still telling.

“Sergei and Natasha say they hope more Russians will start to adopt. But they warn that apart from the complicated legal procedure, parents should think carefully about bringing a child into their home. They say they have made the decision never to tell Vera and Sasha they are adopted, which is why they asked for their names to be changed in this article.”

Meanwhile, I recently was alerted to this article about progress being made in Ukraine. An excerpt:

“As of Jan. 1, adoptive families are treated as birth families in the sense that mothers are given maternity leave, vacation time is allotted and families receive the customary Hr 12,240 allowance per child.”

This is good. However, with these changes immediately come consequences.

“It’s very sad when these families take children to exploit them for physical labor and money that comes from the state,” Krysa said. “We get signals that some children run away from these foster families and lose faith in all sorts of foster care altogether.” (also from the article)

Note the blurred sense of distinction between adoption and foster care.

I’m starting to meditate a little more on this topic again. Who knows, maybe there will be some developments.