Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Awaking the Sleeping Dragon

Although I have not blogged much lately, the disturbing case of Artyiem Saviliev, the 7-year-old who was recently placed on a plane, alone, to fly back to Russia where he was met by a stranger, hired on the Internet, has awakened me once again. The stranger was paid $200 by Artyiem's "mother" to return him to the Russian government.

The Mama Bear in me cannot help but lash out in this case. What, in all that makes sense in this world, was that woman, and her mother, thinking? Did she honestly think that adopting a post institutionalized 7 year old boy was going to be easy? Did she think he'd be able to express the complexities of his emotions --- of abandonment, fear, culture shock, language shock -- to her in a healthy way? Did she think attachment would come quickly and without sacrifice on her part? Does this woman understand that we become parents not because children are extra cute pets or fashion accessories, but because we are willing to love sacrificially for their sake, not our own?

What they did was unconscionable. I fully believe that both she and any family member aware of what she did should be investigated, tried and punished to the full extent of the law for child endangerment and any other charge that fits. Children need to be protected. Period. Not just Artieym, but all the subsequent children who will be denied families either because this story has scared off families, or because they are denied a family due to the Russian governments understandable reluctance to let go of children, not fully understanding the fate of those who come here.

Yes, he was a difficult child. Yes, he scared her. But, she also did nothing to really change the situation. There is a large national support group for families that adopt from Russia: FRUA (Families for Russian and Ukrainian Adoption). FRUA provides resources and services for adoptive families that face these types of difficulties. She never joined. In addition to that there are many ministries and mental health centers that will work with children with these types of issues, in both residential and out patient service. There are families willing to foster children with these types of issues! There were options available. All that I have read has indicated that she did nothing to get him said services.

And, as any adoptive parent knows: The first year is HARD. Very very hard. Children have to learn to accept love, accept the permanence of family. They have a new language to learn. They have a new culture to learn. This is not for the meek! However, the rewards far out weigh the sacrifices. As is often the case with sacrificial love.

And, what about this "difficult child"? What has he learned? Well, one thing is certain. He has learned that you can be bad enough to drive off a person who has promised to love you forever. I lament what this child has learned. This precious child, made in the image of God, is reacting to a cruel world that has shown him, literally, no love. Reject me once, shame on you. Reject me twice, shame on me. I'm sure that idea is ringing in his head. Rejection for who he is. I pray that that lesson is not inscribed in his heart and yet, I realistically, I know it is. He now has evidence that he is unlovable. I pray that the Lord sends him a family to teach him that that is a lie, but at this point it will take a family that really knows unconditional love and is willing to live it.

What caused this woman to commit so hideous an act, so hideous a crime? I wish I understood. However, I do believe that our culture relies so heavily on our independence that perhaps the thought of needing other's help never crossed her mind. And, we so often buy into the lie that quality time does not mean quantity time... that perhaps more of us should consider if we really want to make the sacrifices necessary to parent a child. BEFORE the child is conceived or adopted.

Please consider signing the following petition to be submitted to both Russian President Medvedev and President Obama. It is sponsored by the Joint Council of International Children's Services: