Human Beings as Political Footballs

We’re sneaking up on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  It is absolutely staggering to consider the willful destruction of 50 million human lives.  Often lost in the midst of political battles is what is actually being debated – precious human lives.  What could be more consequential than that?

In recent weeks there has been another front in which political considerations have crowded out human ones.  This one is the not front-burner for most Americans.  Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin put into effect a law that bans all US adoptions from Russia immediately.  The law, known as the Dima Yakovlev Law, is named after a toddler adopted from Russia who died when his adoptive father forgot him in the car for nine hours.  This is a horrific tragedy.  But is this really a situation in which Putin and the Russian leadership is suddenly concerned about the welfare of its orphaned children?  Hardly.

My friend Larry Taunton summarizes the hypocrisy of this concern, “Just consider Russia’s own track record with its millions of orphans (according to the government’s own statistics): 30% of Russian orphans with disabilities are dead by the age of 18; 60% of Russia’s female orphans end up in prostitution; 40% of Russia’s male orphans end up in prison; and 10% commit suicide. The numbers are beyond staggering (and probably much higher, in reality), yet an American family is somehow deemed an unfit situation for these children? If a single Russian politician believes that, then the powers of self-delusion are very mighty indeed.”

This isn’t about the welfare of the children at all.  What is it about?  Politics.  These kids are being used as pawns in a larger game of geo-political intrigue.  This isn’t about protecting kids, it is about punishing America for it’s political policies.  It is about Putin advancing his own political position (Anti-Americanism is “in” right now in Russia).

Putin, and other reprehensible Russian characters (including church leaders) charge that Americans are arrogant, that they try to bribe their way to these adoptions.  But dear sweet Uncle Vlad has the best interests of the children in mind.  This is a classic case of transference – projecting onto others your own attitudes and emotions.

Larry Taunton (quoted above) came face to face with the disgustingly corrupt process of adopting a child from the former Soviet Union.  He wrote about it in his outstanding book, The Grace Effect (recommended reading – you can borrow my copy).  His family was seeking to adopt a little girl named Sasha from an appallingly neglectful orphanage.  It is a tale of heartrending pathos, as you consider children living in squalid conditions, uncared for by their own people.  It provokes anger simply to read about the injustice perpetrated on would-be loving parents who seek to give such children a good home.  There is bribery, but only because the corruption is so great that it is impossible to get the simplest appointment, meeting, or court date without a bribe.  In the Tauntons’ case, Sasha was ultimately successfully adopted and brought to America and a very loving home.  Not so for the nearly 50 cases that were immediately upended thanks to Putin’s law.

There have been 60,000 children adopted by Americans who have given them a loving home.  It is tragic that another 740,000, currently languishing in Russian orphanages, won’t be given that chance.  It is another example of politics trumping the value of a human life.

As Christians we must be at the forefront to speak out for the least of these – for the orphan, for the unborn child.  We must uphold the value of human life, and speak out when human beings become political footballs.