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'Let the children come to me

 

Last updated 11/17/2006 at Noon



One local pastor mentioned to me that when their church offers any event with a mission theme the event is not as well attended as the average service. Why is that? Do we want to stay in our comfort zones? Are we afraid of the type of commitment that is sometimes encouraged at a mission-themed event?

Maybe others are like myself and afraid of the way it will affect their psyche. “Psyche” is defined as soul, self and mind. When I attend a mission event or hear about the plight of hungry children in foreign countries I become sad. We don’t want to be sad. However, this sadness doesn’t have to be negative but can be an indication that somewhere in the corner of our psyches we have compassion for people in need.

We are all needy people in one way or another. Are the needs of a starving child in Africa or a lonely orphan in Russia so radically different than ours? Not really. We all need food, shelter, clothing… and love. I think the difficult job is to recognize the sadness and push through it – to push beyond the sympathetic to the empathetic – and then take action.

That is just what the people involved with a mission organization called International Christian Adoptions (ICA) have done. The group is based in Temecula but reaches out to help orphans in Russia, Asia and other parts of the world. As well as being a nonprofit licensed adoption and foster family agency they provide humanitarian aid and relief services. The staff at ICA has not only become empathetic but have pushed through barriers and uncertainty to emerge as champions for orphans throughout the world.

The group feels their commission is wrapped up in this simple Bible verse: “Pure and undefiled religion…is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.” (James 1:27) However, the staff at ICA are only the facilitators; the real heroes are the men and women who push beyond their own needs to accept the challenge of becoming adoptive parents. Several families in Fallbrook have recently become adoptive parents through ICA and other Christian organizations such as the Fallbrook-based Bring Me Hope, which specializes in Chinese adoptions.

Christi Brotherton of Fallbrook, who is outreach coordinator for International Christian Adoptions, and her husband, Brent, adopted a brother and sister from Russia four years ago.

Undocumented information has been circulated regarding a movement within Russia to ban all foreign adoptions. The Brothertons have heard that Russian President Vladimir Putin fears that the future of Russia is in question because there aren’t enough people to make a prosperous society. To alleviate this problem it has been said that he is considering a ban on all foreign adoptions.

Foreign adoptions have been recently halted in Romania, and in Slovakia adoptions of the neediest segment of society, the Roma, or Gypsies, have been closed to all countries except Italy (for some unknown reason). It seems that each country has different reasons for closing the door on foreign adoptions.

According to Nona Baker, who was a Christian missionary in Slovakia for sixteen years, “I’ve had people tell me that they don’t want the Gypsy children to have more than their own children.” Nona mentioned that the majority of Slovaks consider Gypsies the dregs of society. “They would rather have them on welfare than see them live in comfort,” she said. Slovaks have a verb in their language that essentially means “when something bad happens to someone else.” The word is “skodaradost.” According to Nona, many Slovaks wish “skodaradost” on the Gypsy children.

Six years ago a two-year window opened up concerning foreign adoptions in Slovakia. That’s when Nona and her husband, Bill, took advantage of the situation and worked on their own to facilitate 50 foreign adoptions of Slovakian Gypsies. The Bakers, who are also quite familiar with the plight of Russian orphans, say that some suffer from what is labeled “Detachment Disorder,” which makes the children appear detached or standoffish to their adoptive parents. Nona explained that this disorder springs from being reared in an institution without the love and affection that would come from a functional family.

The Brothertons have no such problem. Their adoptive Russian children are loving in the family atmosphere and active in their schools and the community. Roman, who was adopted when he was twelve and is now sixteen, recently joined Christ The King Lutheran Church. He will travel to Mexico over the Thanksgiving holiday with the church youth group to work in an orphanage. He looks and talks like a typical American teenager. Roman was a gymnast in Russia and now plays on the Fallbrook Union High School junior varsity football team.

Tatiana was eight when she was adopted and is now thirteen. In Russia she excelled in drawing, but in Fallbrook she enjoys soccer and studying mathematics. Both of the youth miss the snow. “In Russia they would slide down ice mountains for fun,” explained Brent, their adoptive father.

In Russia Roman and Tatiana led a grim existence before the government stepped in. Their mother had remarried and the new father was not interested in raising someone else’s children, so the children’s grandmother paid for them to live in a house but didn’t have enough money to also provide for food.

Roman was eight and Tatiana was only four when they began life on their own. The children lived in the house by themselves for a “long period of time” and Roman “asked neighbors for food,” but often the children went hungry. “They would fill their stomachs up with snow to take the hunger pangs away, and then they would go to bed so they didn’t think about it,” explained Brent. “That was their life for a long time.”

Their road to adoption really began with a negative incident. Roman stabbed a man in the leg with a fork as he was threatening to harm Tatiana. The police became involved and noticed that both children were emaciated. The authorities then placed Roman in an orphanage and Tatiana in a foster home.

Christi and Brent Brotherton already had four adoptive children, but in 2001 they heard about a temporary host home program with International Christian Adoptions and took Roman and Tatiana into their home as guests. “Of course, we just fell in love with them,” said Christi. The Brothertons adopted the brother and sister in 2002.

There are many children like Roman and Tatiana who need homes, not only in Russia but throughout the world.

ICA distributes bookmarkers with photographs of Russian orphans. Some of these children appear happy, but others have eyes that betray an emptiness and loneliness that develops when children are raised in an institution.

To find out more about International Christian Adoptions call (951) 695-3336 or access the Web site http://www.4achild.com.

 

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