Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Broken Promises… the post that needs to go viral

It's been less than 24 hours since my last post…and generally I like to space my blog posts apart a few days to give everyone a chance to read them.

But my friend Katrina Morris just sent me her guest post for tomorrow. And I read it through tears and thought - there is no way I can wait another day to post this.

Friends, have you ever heard the expression "going viral" ? It's a phrase used to describe something on the internet that just takes off- someone reads it and forwards it to a friend, or tweets about it, or mentions it on their blog - and before you know it, everyone is talking about it.

That's what needs to happen with this post. These words, written by Katrina Morris, need to be shouted from the rooftops. They need to be headlined in today's paper, tweeted and retweeted, shared on Facebook, linked to, emailed, texted, instagrammed- whatever. They need to be heard.

There are over 370,00 documented orphans living in state-run institutions in Russia today. As of one year ago, those children - many of whom are there due to Down syndrome or other special needs - are no longer available for US adoption. The Russian adoption ban has been in effect for 14 months now, and I don't think a month has gone by that Katrina has not kept me updated about the efforts of so many to reverse it. It would take a miracle to reverse it… and some would say that miracle will never happen.

But what if we all sat back and said the same about the fate of all forgotten children in the world ? What if those who cared throughout our nation's history said the same about injustice when they saw it - it will take a miracle, so we can't do anything. What if - when faced with cultural obstacles that seemed insurmountable - we all just buried our heads in the sand ?

I don't want to bury my head in the sand when it comes to Russian's forgotten children.

I will not forget.

Will you join me in praying for the orphans of Russia ? Will you help spread the word about this post, and about the efforts of Katrina Morris and many like her ? Will you join me in vowing not to forget Natasha, and Albina, and Artem, and so many others like them … Russia's forgotten children ?


Broken Promises

Have you ever broken a promise you made to a child?
One that you most definitely intended to keep, but circumstances beyond your
control kept you from following through with?

On July 20, 2012 I made a promise to a sweet little 6 year old girl
with Down syndrome living in a Russian orphanage. 

I looked into her tear filled eyes on our last visit and promised her I would be back. 

I was not alone in making that promise. 

I know at least 300 other parents who made the same promises and 
were not allowed to keep them. 

We left children wondering what they did wrong and why they had 
been abandoned once again. 

Some will say we shouldn't have made them these promises when 
so many things in international adoption are unknown. 

A lot of these children were older and their caregivers had told them a 
mommy and a daddy were coming to visit them. 

Most of the children had never had visitors before and they knew that if 
someone came to visit you most likely it was because
they wanted to take you home to be part of their family. 

Since the ban happened in December 2012
I have thought about little else than how I could keep the 
promise I made to Natasha on that day in July. 

I have traveled with other stuck families to Washington DC where we begged our 
congress to speak up on the children's behalf. 

We asked them to change the way things were done with overseeing
previous adoptions and to help negotiate different terms with our 
adoptions to help ease the minds of Russian officials. 

We begged our President to speak with President Putin 
to figure out some way to allow these children to come home. 

No matter what we have done or said we have been 
told to go away or have been ignored. 

Most of the time our government places the blame on the
Russian government not being willing to negotiate. 

There have been times I have wanted to give up. 
Times when the horrible comments and hate filled remarks 
have left me exhausted. 

Then I remember this little face
and the promise I made her. 

And when I think about giving up I think about how
she and others like her have endure much more physically 
and emotionally than I have ever had to even think of enduring. 
So I have developed thicker skin and continue to fight.

Recently I returned to Russia. 
I have made friends with a few Russian journalists
and a documentary team. 

I had talked to them about wanting to find a Russian family to adopt Natasha.
If I wasn't allowed to come back for her the least I could do would be 
find someone else who could provide her with a family. 

They suggested the best way to get the attention of the Russian people would 
be to travel there and do interviews but warned me that 
the chances of a Russian family being willing or able to care for a child like Natasha
would be very slim. 

I was very excited to be able to visit an incredible organization called Downside Up.
This organization is trying to change the way Russia perceives children with Ds.
They are helping families get the resources they need to keep their children, 
instead of feeling the only option they have is to give them up to orphanages. 

While I was visiting  Downside Up I had a camera crew following me around. 
It was a little nerve wracking, but I am hopeful any publicity brought to this wonderful 
organization will help make changes for these precious children. 

Unfortunately, I recently found out my segment may never air, as Rain TV is being 
banned from Russian cable. 

It was one of the last independent TV stations not run by the Russian government. 

Downside Up told me if a Russian family did step forward to adopt Natasha they 
would help them understand the challenges they will face and provide them with 
any resources they have to help. 

I held myself together pretty well during my time with the children. 
This precious little girl asked me to sit next to her. 
She tried to share her cookie with me and kept kissing me on the cheek. 

After my visit with the children I went downstairs to be interviewed. 
My sweet journalist asked me how I was holding up, and it was then that I completely lost it. 
You know that big ugly cry when your whole body shakes and you make noises 
that sound something like a wild animal would make. 

I just couldn't help but think of all the sweet babies in orphanages
who were locked away and missing out on this very opportunity. 

Of my own sweet little Natasha who gets good daily care, but has never had
a mom or dad of her own to love and fight for her. 

I cannot say enough good things about Downside Up and hope you 
all take the time to go like their FB page. 

I will never forget the few hours I spent there and the amazing people  I 
was able to meet. 

They need our love and support to keep progressing and making 
changes for the children in Russia. 

I do not know if any of my interviews in Russia will help Natasha get a family. 

I still pray every day that something will change and somehow 
 these two powerful leaders will grow up and come together
for the good of the children left behind. 

I made a collage of some of the children that are still left in orphanages
a year after the ban. 

The Olympics have been very painful for me to watch. 
I look at these sweet faces and wonder why they have been forgotten. 

You hear stories about dogs being killed
gay and lesbian rights 
yogurt being denied to athletes
but nothing about the forgotten children. 

Please help us in remembering them. 
Don't let them be forgotten in all the Olympic hype. 

You can go here to share this picture on FB. 

I have also included links to stories that have been written about 
Natasha and me in English and in Russian in case anyone wants to read more. 

Thank you Patti, for allowing me to guest blog today on behalf of these beautiful children. 
Praying that someday they will all have loving families
whether in Russia, another foreign country or the US. 


Grammi Faith said...

I cry so hard because I miss Daddy. I had 50+ years of a wonderful life with him. He opened my world, he provided a wonderful life for all of us. Will these children ever have an opportunity like ours: a loving family, trips to different places, new experiences outside their walls?
God answered our prayers for Jason and Naomi. I believe if we are like the lady in Scripture who kept "nagging" the judge that God will give us more miracles than we could ever expect. I will not give up.

Anna Theurer said...

I have never forgotten these children. I screamed the day the Russian adoption ban went into effect. It meant that my Tabitha would not be rescued along with all the others. Continued prayers and sharing the story.

nicole said...


SammE said...

The stories I have read about the families waiting for the children they made promises to, are heartbreaking. Their children are loved, and wanted, and they are prevented from giving them their love and caring. I will continue to speak with anyone who will listen, about this injustice. Your article is wonderful, and I do hope Natasha and all the others will someday have a chance at a family.

Ria Labastille said...

this is heartbreaking and russia is a mess when it comes to those things! but, there is always hope.
and in god we trust...

cara said...

It is truly, truly heart breaking!!!!!

Thank you Patti for sharing this post and giving everyone something tangible we can do to help however we can. My heart aches for these kids.

cara said...

Posting on FB too! :)

Katrina said...

The 2 year anniversary of the ban is coming up and I have a few things I would like to share. First, we have a new Facebook page, twitter account and soon to be blog all called Parents United for Russian Orphans. We are trying to do what we can to help the orphans in Russia and are highlighting wonderful organizations that are making amazing changes. This is the link to the FB page

And this is a link to the FB page for the documentary. It will finally be coming out in January to film festivals around the world.

And here is the link to the documentary trailer.

Many of the children who met American families have been adopted but there still remain about 40 children most with special needs who wait for homes. We would love for any who are interested in the welfare of Russian Orphans to follow us on these FB pages.