Ministry sheds light on Russian orphan life as a teen

By August 14, 2007

(MNN) — Every year, 15,000-20,000 orphans
"graduate" from Russian orphanages. These "emancipated"
orphans, however, have few skills to cope with life outside an institution. Because
these children have spent most of their lives in an institutional setting, they
are unprepared and unable to meet the challenges and make the decisions
necessary for successful lives.

Buckner International's
Debbie Wynne says the future is
frightening for a Russian orphan who is aging out of the system. "So often you find statistics of
children that leave the orphanage system at 16…living on the streets, going
into prostitution or drugs." More than half fall into
lives of crime or join the more than one million homeless teenagers living on
the street. Ten percent commit suicide.

Agencies like Buckner want to see the placement of older
children and sibling groups. That's
often difficult because of perceptions that older children might provide more
challenging parenting situations. 

However, Wynne says girls like Anastasia (aka "Nastia") still
have a strong desire for family, but time is running out. "As she turns 15 next month, we only have
a one-year window of opportunity to find her a forever family. That might sound
like a long time, but when we're trying to find the best family for an older
child, that doesn't happen overnight."

Complicating Anastasia’s adoption has been an almost
two-year wait for accreditation of foreign adoption agencies by the Russian
government. Because of the unknown timetable and the halt it has placed on
adoptions by Buckner as it waits for accreditation, many families have
postponed their orientations and preparation to become adoptive parents.

Anastasia participated in the Buckner “Angels from
Abroad” hosting program in Dallas
in 2006. A Buckner Angels
host family, David and Marla Jenkins,
had adopted their daughter Stacy in
2005 from Orphanage No. 60 in St.
Petersburg, where Anastasia lives.

Marla Jenkins says Stacy described Anastasia as a "good girl, with a sweet, gentle spirit and very loving." Jenkins adds, "Our prayer is that Anastasia will find a wonderful Christian
family very soon.”

Buckner is a Christ-centered
ministry that believes adoption is a profound way to change a child's life
forever. Explains Wynne, "There's such a need where there's
children, like 'Nastia, in orphanages that need help, and need to be sought out
to know that they are not alone, that the Lord is there. I think one child can
be touched by somebody and feel like the Lord is there with them when they
might not have a family and they might not have anyone else." Click here if you want to help.

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