The first year we were back from Russia with Laney, I told anyone seeking adoption advice to avoid Russia. I've forgotten about that over the past seven years. I am a person, generally, for whom time seems to diminish pain and exaggerate joy. Besides, I've had seven years of my daughter. Seven years of proof positive that the agony of getting her was worth it. Well worth it.
But that first year, I'd have told you to steer miles clear of Russia. Look to Eastern Europe, Africa, foster-to-adopt in America. But avoid Russia. Because Russia made adoption uniquely difficult. Seven years ago, we traveled to the Eastern edge of Russia, met Laney (Lena she was then), hugged and cuddled her. Saw her bleary eyes and pale-to-the-point-of-translucent skin. Saw how hungry she was. And then we went home. And we were home for ten weeks. Ten agonizing, horrible weeks, powerlessly waiting for the proud, creaky Russian bureaucracy to tell us we could come back. Those 10 weeks were the worst 10 weeks in my life. Worse even than the week my father died; and he died suddenly and tragically. Those weeks were unimaginably painful. I survived them on a steady diet of nicotine, alcohol, and spite. I don't recommend this as a coping mechanism. It worked for me, but damn, was I unpleasant to be around, hungover, stinky and prone to nasty comments.
If I hadn't ended up bringing my daughter home eventually, I think I'd be broken in some fundamental way.
Right now there are 46 families going through what we went through, only for them it's so much worse.
I don't think we can fix Russian/American adoption. This ban is enormously popular in Russia because there are a variety of crazy theories about what happens to Russian kids adopted in America. I don't judge this too harshly since we're far from immune from wackadoo paranoia here. Russians don't seem to want their children adopted at all, but they are especially leery of American adoption. So, I am hopeful that the 1000 kids adopted annually from Russia by Americans will be adopted into Italy or England or one of the other countries that groks adoption like we do here.
But maybe we can do something about those 46 families.
I think that the worst thing about having real political power in America must be that you know how fucked up the world really is. I imagine that's the reason presidents (most of them) age so much. Why Barack Obama's hair got so gray. Why Hillary Clinton seems so tired. Children are starving everywhere. Children are raped and murdered and devalued in a million places in the world. American children go to bed hungry every night too, also with bullets whizzing down their streets. And the 650,000 kids in Russian orphanages have little chance at a good life.
But, like I said, maybe we can do something about those 46 families. So, let's contact Hillary Clinton, and ask her to help them. And Barack Obama. Write your congressperson. I'm writing to Vladimir Putin and including the letter Laney wrote. And let's throw some full-throated encouragement their way to, at the very least, let those 46 adoptions be completed. Let's encourage these powerful people who see so many horrible things to give themselves the gift of enabling incalculable joy, 46 times.
I hope you do. 46 families are going through a kind of pain it's hard to imagine. And 46 children have the chance to be part of a family. It's worth a quick email, right?