New radio program combats negative perceptions about foster parenting

By October 9, 2007

Russia (MNN) — Jesus calls believers to accept orphan children into your own family. Far East Broadcasting Company has created a program to encourage Christians
to do just this.

In Russia, there are more than one million social orphans: children abandoned simply because their parents are consumed  by drug addictions or alcoholism. As Russia tries to solve the orphan problem, their population is declining. "Many just don't bother to build a family at all," said Victor Akhterov. "They are trying to imitate Europe by not having children, so it's a huge problem." 

FEBC is trying to change the perceptions of foster families so orphans can have a more normal life outside of an institution. However, according to Akhterov, the challenge is that "foster parents are not really honored in Russian society. If you talk to good people, normal people, you know, a person on the street, and if you ask them about being a foster parent they
would say ‘Why would you do that if you can have your own children?' And that's the perception that we're trying to change in Russia."

FEBC's programs are designed to create dialogue about foster parenting. "We have a special weekly program now, and we are going to be expanding that program and creating a huge
campaign talking about what foster parents do, what challenges they have, what rewards, and why this is a good thing to do," said Akhterov.

Their Christmas campaign will focus on Joseph as the foster father of Jesus. "We are, of course, working with churches, and we are trying to bring gifts and make a huge celebration with
the help of the local church and make a lot of celebration with foster parents," said Akhterov.   

Today, between 70 and 80 percent of children who "graduate" from institutional orphanages get involved in prostitution and crime. With the greatest purpose being to share the Gospel, Akhertov said foster families are always better than institutions. "Of course we are sharing the Gospel with those children, and we are sharing the Gospel with the greater society, talking about what Christians do, what Christians promote, and why Christians support this kind of outreach." 

Perceptions are already changing as a result of this programming which is being broadcast from the FEBC stations in Moscow and St. Petersburg. FEBC has received letters from people who have attended celebrations or heard the programming. " It was just amazing how people are changing. They never thought about adoption or foster care as something great, something that you really could do with your life. Those testimonies are the greatest reward that we have," said Akhterov. 

The programs are also being broadcast form shortwave stations throughout Russia and on the internet. 

Akhterov says this Christmas they will hold a celebration of Russian foster parents and provide gifts for the families. Akhterov says prayers are coveted, and with the expense of such a celebration he says, "We also appreciate your financial support."

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