A decade or so ago, some friends undertook the arduous journey to adopt their daughter, who spent the first fifteen months of her life in a Moscow orphanage.  The journey was arduous in all ways possible – mileage, time, financially, intellectually demanding to wend their way through the arcane rules and most especially, emotionally.  On their initial visit to the facility, they found most of the younger children were minded in a small enclosed area with a few toys to claim, if they could be held against all competition.  The facility housed over a hundred small clients, a couple of dozen or so under the age of two.  When they first spotted the young beauty that was to transform their lives, the fifteen month old glanced sideways while on the changing table and made eye contact across the room.  That ability to connect with those who were her life line was a skill, either learned or inborn, that conveys to her a gift beyond reckoning and persists into her precocious pre teen personality.  She can take over a room like brightness draws moths into the light.

In Moscow, she competed with a score or more toddlers and infants for the haggard, stretched thin attention of two full time attendants, each of whom worked a twelve hour shift every day.  One person at a time was on duty for changing, food, health care, teaching and loving.  They did their best; they really did.  Learning toys were scarce, food was sparse and survival skills important.  An orphan who prospers learns early to compete, to persist and to make her way.  Her intelligence and persistence were the primary attributes we noticed when we  met her in our friend’s house shortly after they returned home.

For adopting parents, protocol was for at least two visits of a fortnight each, separated by a period of time, usually a month minimum.  The first one was intended for selection of their new family member and early bonding; the second was to complete the paperwork, spend more time with the child, and usually followed a vetting process.  Our friends were able to convince the adoption authorities that a second trip would be prohibitively expensive financially and more importantly expensive for their schedules, since they were both self employed.  They remained in Moscow for twenty eight days at a cost exceeding thirty thousand dollars, but when they got on the first leg of their Aeroflot flight home, there were three of them.

President Vladimir Putin signed a bill Friday banning U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children, raising tensions with Washington as the Obama Administration is trying to win Moscow’s support to end the war in Syria.  Russian officials portrayed the latest legislation as a tit-for-tat retaliation against a new U.S. law that seeks to punish Russians accused of human-rights violations.

Moscow’s legislation—which also bans U.S.-funded civic groups in the country—puts concrete action to rising Russian complaints, voiced most vehemently by Mr. Putin, that the U.S.’s own human-rights failings give it no credibility to lecture others.  But the adoption ban has exposed Mr. Putin to criticism both internationally and within his own government. Critics allege that the law makes political pawns out of Russian orphans, whose living conditions can be dire and prospects for adoption often slim.

Gregory White, Wall Street Journal 12/28/12

Many of the children adopted from Russia by American parents suffer disabilities such as spina bifida, which is treatable if medical resources are more abundant than in a Moscow orphanage.  Without adoption, these children will languish.  Worse yet is the fate of young especially pretty women, who outgrow the orphanage, and become prey on the streets of the city.  The sex slave and drug trade flourish in Russia; young girls are turned on and turned out.  Most grievous are the adoptions shut down in mid stride.  There are children and parents who have spent much time together and bonded; they will now be unable to complete the process, some just a week or so from flying home together.

“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”  President G.W. Bush about Vladimir Putin, press conference, 1/6/2001

“I told him (Yeltsin) I was impressed by what I had seen of President Putin but wasn’t sure he was as comfortable with or committed to democracy as Mr. Yeltsin.”  Former President Bill Clinton in a NY Times article, “Boris the Fighter” on the occasion of the funeral of Boris Yeltsin 4/29/2007

Vlad, the Impaler, Putin

Vlad, the Impaler, Putin

These protestations about violated human rights in the United States  coming from Vladimir Putin, a triumphant thug who came up through the ranks of the KGB, now FSB, would be ridiculous, if so many innocent lives were not sacrificed to the brutal, leveraged, “diplomacy” of the hard core left.  Remember in October of 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a gifted, courageous journalist, was assassinated in the lobby of her apartment building with two bullets in her head.  She had become a potent nuisance to Putin with her brilliant expose of “Failed Democracy” and the outrages against Chechen civilians.  She was murdered on Putin’s birthday, no doubt a gift from his old colleagues in the FSB, who are exceedingly skilled in contract murders.  A month after her death, Alexander Litvenenko, a former FSB officer who had defected to the West, was taken very ill to a British hospital, where he died a gruesome, slow death three weeks later of acute radioactive polonium poisoning.  He had been working with MI5 and MI6 as well as in his new career as a journalist. He published two books:  “Blowing Up Russia, Terror from Within” and “Lubyanka Criminal Group.”   Polonium in the mashed potatoes is a creative and cruel method of political assassination, again one in which the old KGB was particularly gifted.  The “Cold War” may be in the history books, but its practitioners learned their craft well.

President Obama to then President Dmitri Medvedev (now Prime Minister after he and Putin again exchanged chairs): “This is my last election.  After my election, I have more flexibility.”  Video…

Medvedev:  “I understand.  I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” 

Ten years later and fully adapted to her adopted country, this beautiful daughter of our friends is doing splendidly at an exclusive private school.  Her grades are excellent, and she is excelling in her other special interests in photography and basketball. She is on the local “travelling team” as an All Star in her age bracket.  The school for gifted students is on a handsome campus as a “feeder” school for the Ivy League and other top line universities. Her school has won the state wide Academic Decathlon nineteen times out of the twenty nine it’s been held.  One expects her prospects are considerably more promising than those of a street urchin in Moscow.  Her parents are devoted to her success in life and to her nurture.  Love is irreplaceable.

“May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings; in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children – and for this there is no substitute.”  Pope Paul VI, speaking of the Holy Family in Nazareth 1/12/1964


Filed under Personal and family life, Politics and government

3 responses to “Leverage

  1. Jack,

    An interesting post on a subject of which I am ignorant. The part about adoption of Russian children by foreigners, that is, so I have little to say or add to the discussion. Thanks for bringing it to light and congratulations on the views and reads – Here’s hoping that 2013 sees your following grow and your messages shared.


  2. Jim Aelick

    Jack-Our family has a close relationship w/a fmaily that adopted a boy from Russia when he was 2 and has been a friend of my son’s since he arrived, I could insert my friend and their son’s name in this story as their expereinces are similar. My next door neighbors has tow daughters from China who have flourished and are great kids. To your point Love does conquer all and is irreplaceable. What Putin has done is tragic for the children of Russia. Tragedy also here in the US where people make a living off of children who cannot be adopted on our own soil due to the insanity of our own US adoption laws.

    Keep up the good work.


  3. Gabriel Parquette

    I think the our support of the uprising in Syria is the reason for Putin’s move. Russia has been clear they are opposed to our intervention. This weekend they moved warships into the area to deter the West from deploying ground forces in support of the rebels. These cold relations could heat up very quickly in this region if the US continues its involvement.


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