War Is Not Healthy For Children

I didn’t know there was a day for this. It passed right by with no awareness on my part about a month ago. Like many, the impacts of active war weigh heavily on my heart and mind today.

Americans have such a huge appetite for adoption that local sources are insignificant to meet the huge demand. So always, there are Americans adopting foreign children, removing them from culture, language and family. War is often a precursor to a huge push to bring the children traumatized by the violence of war, devastated by its impacts and who have lost or been separated from their families due to the effects of military actions.

I remember when adopting orphans from Russian orphanages was a big thing. I remember that many adoptive families were ill prepared for the challenges they received. I didn’t even know as much about adoption then as I do now. I totally agree with any sovereignty a country that choses to shutdown an adoption pipeline that opened in their country.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was an increase in the number of orphans. In 1995, there was a reported 300,000 children in the orphanage system. Although difficult to accurately count, there are an estimated 1 million to 5 million homeless youth. The number of orphanages increased by 100% between 2002 and 2012 to 2,176. Some of the reasons for children to end up in the orphanages are domestic abuse, parental substance abuse, having lost their parents, or being found alone on the streets. As for those who are social orphans (meaning that one or more of their birth parents are still alive) there are various reasons as to why they end up in orphanages. For instance one girl’s parents were told when she was born that she wouldn’t live long, so her parents refused to take her. Other children have been abandoned due to reasons such as their disabilities, or their parent’s drug or substance problems.

On December 28, 2012, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the Dima Yakovlev Law, prohibiting Russian children from being adopted by American citizens. The law was described by the BBC as “a reaction to the US Magnitsky Act”, which blacklisted high-ranking Russian officials. Personally, I am not sad if there are less “orphans” going into the US from whatever pipeline for whatever reason.

I’m glad if there are fewer adoptions that take a child out of the country of their birth, remove them from their native language and customs and drop them into unfamiliar environments. In 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, US families adopted 2,971 children from other countries. In 2020, there were only 1,622 intercountry adoptions — a 45% drop from the year before and a nearly 93% decline from the peak.

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