Bible Thumpers, Beware

Gina here, feeling compelled to write a blurb in this blog! Those of you who have read my other posts will not be surprised at this – to newer readers; Sit down, relax, and HANG ON!

I would like to talk about Deana’s decision to adopt a child (or two) from Russia – but in a more general sense this post relates to God’s power, hope in Christ, and judging “for the good” or to be “biblically correct”.

It has been made know – not directly, of course! – that, as a single woman, Deana is in violation of scripture in her plans to adopt a child. She is “robbing” these poor Russian children from the chance of having a “real” family – a mother AND father, as the Bible commands. I searched the Holy Scriptures and could not isolate one verse that rebukes Deana. I DID find the following, however:

James 1:26-27: “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (emphasis Gina)

Psalm 68:6: “God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.” (it says families, but doesn’t define them as all having mothers and fathers…..)

Esther 2:7: “And Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had neither father nor mother. The young woman was lovely and beautiful. When her father and mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” (No mention of Mordecai’s wife….)

2 Tim 1:5: “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” (Timothy’s father was not a part of his life and yet, Timothy was blessed by Lois and Eunice and used mightily by God)

If you are reading this and you agree that Deana is in violation to scripture, please email me at ginamminard@yahoo.com and send me the scriptures you believe explain this.

I am not suggesting (nor do I believe it is Deana’s stance) that having a mother AND father is not an ideal situation. But, I acknowledge we are in a fallen world with myriad situations that are not ideal. I, for one, would never have expected to be a single Mom due to divorce – but my children are thriving by the Grace of God. For is says in the Bible, Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

In the mean time, I would like to post some facts that shed some light to Deana’s decision!

As posted on Ascent Russian Orphan Aid Foundation (translated from Ministry of Education of Russian Federation, as of the year 2000, there were over 700,000 orphans in Russia. Of those leaving the orphanages (often at the young age of 13 to 15):

50% fall into the high risk category
40% become drug users
40% commit crimes to survive
10% commit suicide

In 2002, of the hundreds of thousand orphans in Russia, only 4,939 were brought to the United States via adoption as taken from the U.S. Department of State. That represents less than 1% and only ONE COUNTRY that has a huge orphanage problem!

Further, the culture in Russia is very complicated – much too difficult for me to describe here in detail. I am extrapolating information from an excellent article, Street Children in the Former Soviet Union.

· The culture of Russia is that the State can provide for the children. Page 11 states, “ The institutional systems inherited by the Republics of the Soviet Union after 1990 were thoroughly a product of the previous seventy years and were caught in the same web of problems. Staff and administrators of orphanages, children’s prisons and children’s homes faced political decentralization, cuts in funding and a rising number of children needing care. While numbers of children living in institutions fell in Azerbaijan and Georgia after 1990, they rose dramatically in almost every other country – especially Estonia where 0-3 year olds in institutions surged by 115 percent. These rising numbers speak to the increased pressures on families and the still widely held belief that the state was able to care for unwanted children.”

· There is a culture of abuse in institutionalized care for children in Russia. Page 11-12 states, “While the institutionalization of so many children was problem enough, abuse was endemic to the system. Human Rights Watch published a full report in 1998 on Russian orphanages that highlights many of the problems that continue to plague institutions in the FSU [Former Soviet Union]. Excerpts are provided here, but the full report can be downloaded at: htt://www.hrw.org/reports98/russ2:

o Teenaged orphans in Moscow and St. Petersburg interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported several categories of abuse they had suffered or witnessed. They said that children with no parents are treated more harshly than those whose parents are in touch with them. Punishment by the director and staff may involve physical assault, verbal abuse, public humiliation (for example forcing children to strip in front of peers), isolation in unheated rooms in winter, or standing naked in front of an open window in winter. Runaways from the orphanage are often regarded as abnormal and sent to psychiatric hospitals.”

o “At the heart of the systematic abuse and neglect suffered by orphans in Russia lies a deep tradition of ignorance and fear. Time and again people told us, repeating like a mantra, how the Soviet ideology promoted the quest for the perfect Soviet man. As Dr. Severny explained, ‘All children and everyone had to meet the standard, and if they did not meet the standard, they had to be kept apart and hidden from the rest.’ Children with disabilities were not seen in public, and the myths associated with them flourished.”

o “One of the most pernicious consequences of this prejudice is that it taints all abandoned children in Russia, despite the fact that the issue has been discussed and debated abundantly in the Russian press for several years. A clear summary of this point appeared in an article exploring local biases against adopting a baby abandoned by a stranger. The fear that the child will in some way be ‘damaged goods’ stems from the knowledge that mothers of mentally and physically handicapped children are routinely advised by doctors to put their baby in an orphanage and ‘try again.’ Consequently, healthy babies who are given up for financial or domestic reasons are unfairly branded ‘defective'”.

o A Russian journalist quoted in the report said, ‘I’m sorry to say, you will hear terrible things about orphanages and they are probably true. It is a really large-scale problem. The staff sees them as animals. We saw it. Even the nannies who ‘love’ them, treat them mostly—really like pets. They do not really see that there is a person inside who could think, or learn something. Recently there was an article in a Russian paper about a baby house where kids with defects live. A few days later the readers wrote a reply, that these kids should be killed. ‘We don’t want to see them,’ they said. People are not ready to share any money with those that are disabled. They believe they’re not really human beings. It’s terrible, I know.”

· Per the article page 25, there are ways to prevent these children ending up on the streets, including: Adoption: International adoption is a growing business and an increasingly complicated one. Governments should facilitate both foreign and national adoption as a means of removing children from institutions and placing them in caring family environments. The necessity of making adoption affordable and attractive to nationals is essential.

· Page 34 describes the statistics these kids are facing:

o Russian institutions now define 600,000 as being ‘without parental care in institutions and 30,000 are reported to run-away from these institutions each year. In 1997, UNICEF put that number at 611,034.

o From 1996-1998 more than 113,000 children were abandoned rising from 67,286 in 1992.

o In Russia alone there are at least 1 million street children – 10 percent of whom are orphans. There might be as many as 3 million children without parental supervision.

o In Russia there may 2 million street children and this may grow to 4 million in the summers. Half of them are considered orphans or abandoned. In Moscow UNICEF reported that there are 150,000 street children.

o 10 percent of 15 year olds leave orphanages will commit suicide; six in 10 will end up in prison.

o In Russia 75 percent of children who leave state orphanages become prostitutes, drug dealers or are involved in crime.

o The U.S. Communicable Disease Center has projected that as many as 500,000 additional Russian children could be orphaned in the next ten years as their parents die of AIDS.

o In Russia over one million minors were arrested in 2001 – one third of them had never gone to school.

o In 2002 the number of neglected and homeless children in Russia is over 3 million.

o 40 percent of all Russian children live in poverty and malnourishment.

o Every year – about 600,000 Russian children lose one of their parents to death.

o At the end of 1997, 90,000 children were registered as systematic drug or alcohol abusers.
o According to the Moscow times, the 15,000 Russian teenagers who leave the orphanages each year, 40 percent become homeless, 30 percent become criminals, 10 percent commit suicide.

o It is estimated that 90 percent of children who have been abandoned have families.

o Of the 16,000 street children in St. Petersburg, 77 percent work exploitative and dangerous jobs. A university study that included 1000 street children found that 30 percent of them involved in illegal activities.

o In a recent Russian poll, the majority felt the orphans were simply a drain on society and that it would be better if they died.

o According to various sources the number of street children varies from 500 thousand up to 2.8 million.

To sum it up: Russians aren’t racing to adopt these children, very few are being adopted internationally, and the conditions these children are facing in orphanages are horrible. (See Abandoned to the State: Cruelty and Neglect in Russian Orphanages for further details.) While having a single parent is not ideal, the home Deana has prepared (including the nurturing, love, warmth, and faith in Jesus Christ) is far better than what the likely future these children face holds. She can, and will, truly change a child’s life!!!! And THIS is her main driving force to this adoption, NOT to fill a void she feels in her own life. See her blog for more info and her personal words!

Again, if you STILL feel that Deana is doing the wrong thing in saving and adopting this child (or children), I strong encourage YOU to adopt in her sted!!!!!

I liken the idea that Deana should not adopt this child to this analogy:

Suppose I was standing on the bank of a very isolated river – far from traffic, people, etc. I knew, about 1,000 yards downriver, there was a beautiful, large waterfall. Suddenly, I see a child (or woman, or man…..) floating in the water toward me, obviously in peril and unable to save themselves. However, I have not been trained in river rescue nor do I have the ideal tools to save this child (rope, lifesaver, etc.). Admittedly, any attempt to save the child would risk my life and there would be no guarantee that I would even help!

Taken the “bible thumper’s” view, I should probably NOT save the child because I would be robbing them of a REAL rescue from a “fully” outfitted, trained individual that might be downriver. However, by making the “ideal” choice, I take a very probably risk (or, statistics will show) that the child would fall over the waterfall and perish.

I failed to note that I am a strong swimmer, understand how to work with the river current to get to the banks, etc. (Much like Deana has the home, finances, desire, and love…..).

What would you do? I hope you would act more like Deana and jump into the river wholeheartedly, rather than the “bible thumper” who would let the child float by………

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