Russia (MNN) — There are roughly 21 million children under the age of 15 in Russia. Nearly 730,000 of these are orphans.
The large percentage of orphans who have simply been abandoned by their parents is frightening enough, but even more disturbing is the fate of those who are never adopted.
Strict adoption laws can make intercountry adoption from Russia difficult, but so can uncontrollable factors like a child's age. After age three, the chances of adoption for a Russian orphan are slim, by early elementary school, opportunities to find a forever family are virtually unheard of.
"After seven, there is no chance," Natasha Votrakova, country director for Buckner in Russia, told Buckner International. "I mean, it's zero. There are no adoptions in Russia that are done by Russian families after the age of seven."
The consequences of overlooking these children are severe. Adoptive parent Garth Wilkins says, "After they are emancipated from the orphanage at 16 or 17, 10 percent of the kids commit suicide within the first three years. Forty percent turn to alcohol and drugs, and 40 percent fall into a life of prostitution or crime."
Buckner has impressed the desperation of this situation on many in the past but was reminded afresh at a recent reunion in April. At a reception for families who have adopted older children through Buckner's Russia program, many kids and families shared their stories with people considering adoption.
Twenty-two-year-old Natasha Potts was adopted with her brother when they were 12 and 13, respectively. "I have dreams that I never would have dreamt of back in Russia," Potts explained at the reception. "I have grown, learned, expressed, and loved every step of the way that made me who I am today, thanks to this loving family."
Many others shared similar experiences and sentiments. Parents expressed challenge but immeasurable joy in adopting their older children.
Most excitingly, adopted kids are exposed to the love of Christ through the power of the Gospel as parents have opportunity to share it and shape their children according to it. Older kids are given a life they never dreamed of, and the hope of eternity.
"For older children, adopting them is really like giving them a chance in this life," Votyakova noted.
There are currently eight Russian children between ages eight and 13 available for adoption through Buckner. Learn more by calling 1-866-236-7823. Or, if you can make it to Louisville, Kentucky May 12 and 13, head to Summit VII to learn more about orphans worldwide and Buckner International. Read more on the Summit here.