By DENISE HARRIS HOPPENHAUER
As I approach my first Mother’s Day as the new Mother of an energetic 4 year old, my thoughts are not on the joys of motherhood or the overwhelming sense of unconditional love that I feel for my child. Instead, I think of the two million children who currently live in orphanages in Eastern Europe and the profound effects that this realization brings. I also know that whatever aid I am able to provide or that however many children I am able to help, it is vastly insignificant in number compared to the millions of children who currently reside in orphanages throughout the world.
This Mother’s Day I would ask that you pray for those whose lives are touched by economic instability, government control, poverty, hunger, lack of medical care, alcoholism, abortion, infertility, and adoption.
Birthmothers — Pray for the strength of women who are placing their children for adoption, especially birthmothers whose only alternative is adoption due to overwhelming poverty, hunger and famine. (According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, one-third of children in the United States experience food insecurity.)
Pray for birthmothers whose children are born with birth defects, are premature due to lack of prenatal care, or other medical conditions. Especially for those children who cannot receive medical care unless they are placed for adoption.
Pray for birthmothers who are effected by alcoholism and their unborn children that they are protected from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Fetal Alcohol Effect. The effects of alcoholism have devastated Eastern Europe, particularly Russia. One estimate is that 60 percent of the male population in Russia are alcoholics.
Abused and neglected children — Pray for the children that have been taken away from their families and for those who are now available for adoption, those who are in the foster care system and those who have been placed in orphanages or other children’s homes.
The unborn and women contemplating abortion — According to the Russian Ministry of Health, the average Russian woman has between seven to 11 abortions during her child-bearing years. Ninety-five percent of the population has no access to birth control. Abortion is the leading form of birth control in Russia. However, with the increasing risk of HIV exposure due to unsanitary conditions at abortion clinics, more women are having their babies and abandoning them at birth.
Orphanages — Pray for orphanages throughout the world, especially those in Eastern Europe who struggle to provide basic necessities such as food, clothing, and medication. As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic crisis that followed has resulted in government cutbacks of orphanage funding. Simultaneously, there has been an increase of abandoned and displaced children.
Pray for orphanage director’s and their staff whose responsibility is to care for their charges with inadequate resources.
China — Whose government only allows one child per family. Pray for the ” Lost Daughters of China” who are given up for adoption in favor of a male heir or because her parents have already meet their quota.
Infertility — One in every 10 couples will experience some type of infertility. Pray for those couples who desire to have a family and are struggling to conceive. Especially for those who are undergoing evasive medical procedures and those who are coming to terms with their infertility.
The adoption process — Adoption is often a long and difficult process. Pray for guidance for those who have recently decided to adopt or those who are just beginning the adoption process. Pray for those who may be struggling to finance an adoption and for those who may be experiencing unexpected delays in bringing their child home. Pray for those who have lost a child during the adoption process. Families who have lost a child they were in the process of adopting experience a grieving process similar to that of a death in the family.
Unsupportive friends and family — Pray for those who usually have adoptive parents best interest at heart but have preconceived ideas of “defective children,” have been overexposed to media sensationalism concerning adoption as fraud, undisclosed medical conditions, or racial motivation.
Transracial adoption — Adopting a child can be hard enough, and adopting a child of another race can layer on a whole new set of family issues. Pray for adoptive families, especially for those who have adopted African-American, bi-racial, Asian, Hispanic and Roma/Gypsy children from Eastern Europe.
Victims of adoption fraud — Pray for those who have been adversely effected by adoption fraud and those who exploit adoptive parents and children.
Lawmakers — Pray for lawmakers, adoption advocates, and all others whose responsibility it is to introduce legislation to protect adoptive families and their rights as well as those of the children that they may make adoption easier and more affordable.
Orphanage graduates — In Russia approximately 15,000 children a year “graduate” from state run institutions when they turn 18. According to one statistic, the average life span of an orphanage graduate is 30 years of age.
According to Mira-Med Institute (a nonprofit Organization that aids orphans), 50 percent of graduates in Moscow will serve prison time, 40 percent become drug users, 10 percent commit suicide, and only 4 percent attend universities.
The children — Pray that children who are in orphanages receive enough to eat and that they have clean clothing and their shoes are not too small. Pray that they not experience long-term effects such as sensory deprivation or attachment disorders as a result of being institutionalized. Pray that their caretakers are compassionate and that they treat the children with love and affection.
And last but most importantly, pray that all available children will be adopted. Pray that older children will be adopted and that children “stuck” in the system will be released for adoption. Pray that more families will be willing to adopt.
According to the U.S. Department of State, 18,539 children were internationally adopted in 2000. This was an increase of 13 percent from 1999. Also, in 2000, 4,269 children were adopted from Russia. There are 60,000 children in Russia available for adoption.
Denise Harris Hoppenhauer is a member of the adoption playgroup at St. Mary Church in Greenville. She is the author of “A Disturbing Trend of Adoption Fraud and Failed Adoptions,” which was presented at the April 2 meeting in Washington, D.C., for implementation of the Hague Treaty on Intercountry Adoption. She and her husband adopted their daughter, Callie, in August 2000 from Saratov, Russia.