Someone asked me to comment on the scandal in the baby hospital that was uncovered recently in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The basic story is: someone witnessed a roomful of babies lying in a hospital with their mouths taped shut to keep them quiet.
My reaction? I’m not shocked. I’m dismayed and saddened, but there’s nothing surprising to me about the situation. 1-2 overworked and under equipped adults+dozens of screaming babies leads to desperate measures. What would you do?
This particular article made reference to the nurses having a medical degree but lacking knowledge about how to cope with the babies’ emotional/psychological needs. Honestly, I don’t think you need a degree in psychology to care for babies. Otherwise, a lot of mothers out there are in trouble! It’s a BABY. You pick it up, hold it, love it.
Why are these babies abandoned in hospitals for their first year of life, and what can be done about it?
According to the article, “the main reasons why mothers give up their babies are lack of money and living-space along with problems such as alcoholism.” Fair enough.
What is to be done? A solution suggested by the article: Open more orphanages. " 'We simply do not have enough children's homes in Sverdlovsk [the region around Yekaterinburg] and Russia in general.’ " Not ENOUGH orphanages????!!!
I’m tired of orphanages. I spend a lot of time there. I’ve seen a range of living conditions. In some of the best St.P. orphanages, the kids win prizes in regional competitions in sports, arts, etc. They study in public schools with other children and may even go on to get a higher education. Photographs and artwork of the children are hanging everywhere. Graduates sometimes hang around, or return to show off their diplomas and their own kids. The counselors proudly welcome guests and show how they, on their meager salaries, have made the rooms look beautiful.
It’s not the orphanage that is the problem per se, but rather the fate of those who leave it. According to the Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund (ROOF), “Each year in the Russian Federation approximately 15,000 young adults 'graduate' from the orphanage system utterly unprepared to support or to take care of themselves in a country where, at present, it is difficult for even the most privileged to find gainful employment.”
So how do we stop the vicious cycle in which more and more children are orphaned and end up unable to achieve successful independence?
Upscale orphanages (or “children’s homes”) are not the answer.
Foreign adoption is also not the answer. But it should not be prevented. I encourage foreign adoption because it is a way to affect the life of an individual child, and it is a way to raise awareness. But it will not save the children. And it will not save Russia, with its declining birth rate.
Charity work is not the answer either. But it should not be prevented. The Bible encourages us to visit orphans. If those hospital workers had a few helpers who held the babies, would taping their mouths be necessary?
Abortion and birth control are not the answer. Preventing “unwanted pregnancies” doesn’t guarantee that children will not be abandoned later on.
The best answer is a family. Adoption whenever possible; anchor families for when adoption isn’t possible or a child is too old; halfway houses or transitional homes for orphanage graduates.
Another answer is repentance. Most of these children are neglected not due to death or tragedy, but because of someone else’s sin. Having sexual relations outside of marriage is a sin. Not performing your work to the best of your ability is a sin. Drinking alcohol to excess and otherwise engaging in self-indulgence is a sin. Oppressing people and not paying them a suitable salary is a sin. Being irresponsible with your finances is a sin. Ignoring your own needy neighbors is a sin. Not taking care of children, who are an inheritance from the Lord, is a sin. All of us are guilty of one or more of these. And all of us will be held accountable.
What do you think?