There are many ways I have grown as I raise my children. I have learned to love so deeply while struggling to maintain my autonomous self. I’ve also learned how to stand back, allowing my children to fail and flail, equipping them to prioritize growth and maturation over momentary satisfaction. Some of my own development as a mother, though, happens uniquely through raising my two boys; unlike my three daughters, they are adopted. (As my husband and I say, “We produce girls and import boys.”)
Our older son, Adar, who is now 14, came home when he was nine months old; our younger son, Zamir, 11, came home when he was four years old. They both ask big questions about loss, love and family — and not on a theoretical level. Why doesn’t God give someone what he wants even if he’s a good boy who asks for it? Or, Did it hurt my tummy-mommy when I was born? They make our family a window to God and life’s mysteries. Raising our sons in a world of brokenness, we have found traces of repair. Like Zamir looking up from amidst the cacophony of beginner’s orchestra, meeting my eyes, and missing a note on his trumpet because he can’t suppress a smile.
On December 28, Russia legally banned the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens. President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial legislation (which takes effect on January 1, 2012) following its approval by the upper house of the Russian parliament earlier last week.
The ban is part of a package of retaliatory measures against the Magnitsky Law, American legislation aimed at punishing Russian human rights violators. The Kremlin has also cited the deaths of 19 Russian children due to abuse by their American adoptive parents as a reason for the ban.
Russia is the third most common source of international adoptions for Americans, following China and Ethiopia. However, the U.S. is the largest single foreign destination for Russian orphans. Approximately 1,000 Russian children have been adopted by Americans annually in recent years. Around 70,000 have been adopted by U.S. citizens since the fall of the Soviet Union.
It is unclear how many of those 70,000 children went to Jewish families. Seventeen percent of the 750 Jewish American adoptive families who responded to a survey conducted by the Adoption and Jewish Identity Project adopted children from Russian from 1990 through 2011. However, Dr. Jayne Guberman, the project’s co-director warned, “The survey respondents are not necessarily representative of the entire American Jewish population. For example, they are probably more highly Jewishly identified since they were interested in and willing to take the time to complete a long and complex survey.”