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The head of the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated Christmas (Orthodox Christmas is January 7th) with a message to his nation emphasizing the Bible’s call to care for orphans and urging Russian Christians to adopt.
Patriarch Kirill expressed, “And as we celebrate Christmas I would like to appeal to everyone with a request: If you can take this important step in life aimed at adopting children, supporting orphans, take this step,” Kirill said. “There should be no orphans in our country.” (See the full Reuters’ article HERE.)
While roughly 650,000 children in Russia are considered orphans, and more than 100,000 live in institutions, adoption is rare among Russians. In 2011, there were less than 7,500 adoptions by Russian families. (In contrast, Americans adopted more than 75,000 unrelated children domestically in 2007, the most recent data available.)
In a society that does not value adoption, to see a culture of adoption grow within Russian churches—including the vital support families often need as they help children heal from difficult backgrounds—would be most welcome.
The Patriarch’s message comes on the heals of Russia’s ban on adoption by Americans of Russian orphans. It would be a false choice to pit nascent in-country adoption efforts against inter-country adoption. Both are needed. Until 650,000 orphans is reduced to 0, advocates for orphans should seek caring families for Russia’s orphans wherever they can be found—both locally and globally.
Even so, Patriarch Kirill’s words are most welcome: as an affirmation of God’s deep concern for the orphan, and a clarion call to Christians to reflect God’s heart for orphans in action.
The message also will likely lend added strength to the work that has been building under the leadership of Ivan Iklyushin and his organization, “Russian Without Orphans.” Ivan spoke at Summit this year about the potent impact of Orphan Sunday within Russian churches, and the slow-but-real cultural shift happening among Russian Christians in regard to adoption. See a clip of a private interview with Ivan below. (You can also read our prior post, Russia’s Adoption Ban Has Very Little to Do with Adoption.)