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This week Ukrainian deputies will have their eighth chance to decide if Ukraine accedes to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, aimed to regulate the mechanism of this procedure. Unfortunately, intercountry adoption is often the only hope to find a family for elder and disabled children. Press service representatives of the Alliance for Ukraine without Orphans had a chance to talk to His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar and ask him what he thinks about orphans, orphanages, domestic and intercountry adoption.
- Your Beatitude, could you render us a service and comment on the situation concerning the intercountry adoption of orphans in Ukraine and in general the attitude of policy-makers to the document named the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, which has been already put to vote in Verkhovna Rada [Supreme Council of Ukraine] 6 times. The deputies did not support this Convention, saying that we would not be able to control the children, and here in Ukraine everything is fine as it is. Though those children grow up, they can’t wait for a family to be found for every sick child, for every elder child. Some political powers even suggest: “Let’s prohibit foreigners to adopt our children at all!” What is your opinion about it?
- We need to remind ourselves that in the recent months special attention has been paid to what the Ukrainian orphanages for children look like. If I am not mistaken, one of these days even the President, paying a visit to one of those places – Flash of Hope in the village of Makariv in Kyiv region – remembered that a focus should be on the state of orphanages, on how they are maintained and what their benefits are, and what should be done for them to be really helpful. Many people bring evidence that the state of those orphanages is very bad, that there are many cases of abuse, appropriations, that children do not receive what the state means to give them, that the children starve, suffer. Briefly speaking, it is a burning issue. So I think that postponing it as it has already been many times postponed – it is on the one hand a sign of indifference, and on the other hand, sorry for using such a strong word, is a kind of violence, lack of understanding. I think that such important issues should be given a careful consideration. If we are talking about those who are most responsible – the deputies – such actions from their side show their lack of care to children – suffering children.
When we are talking about the content of this Convention, it seems to me that we should understand that the best situation is naturally when a child has a mother and a father who care about him or her. There are many cases when a child is left without natural parental care due to a variety of reasons – losing a parent, both parents, or parents being unable to ensure such child’s well-being – so what’s left to be done is such cases? For many-many years different countries try to organize orphanages, boarding schools, try to use various ways to provide those children with care and attention for them to be able to develop in a normal way and go to life as healthy individuals. We should take into consideration that the option of adoption is a very good one as there are people who are really ready to accept a child as their own. Even those people having their own children are willing to take other children who don’t have parents and bring them up together with their own sons and daughters. There are such groups where qualified people try to organize a community – almost a family – where a small number of children live and grow up together. But all those measures are not enough. It would be perfect if every child could be adopted or the best would be if there were no orphans at all! But, well, we have still got those children, and so it is good when they are adopted. But what if it is not an option? Then another way should be found.
There are no hesitations about what the President has said – a lot of efforts are needed to ensure that those existing orphanages work at some level, so that children do not suffer but develop and grow up there. But anyway, orphanages will always be institutions, not families. That’s why there is an option of adoption outside of Ukraine. Someone could say, we don’t want to send our children abroad, don’t want to lose them. But is it really better to put a child to death in Ukraine? Or, maybe, give this child a possibility to live a normal life, even in foreign environment, where nevertheless this child will remain a human being and will live a life of a human being? I personally know at least 1 or 2 cases of adoption outside of Ukraine, when a sick child was accepted, cared for, and now even if such child grows up outside of his or her normal national environment, he or she has everything needed for the normal development: care, school, other things to prepare this child for the adult life. We shouldn’t convince ourselves that it is an ideal option but it is a completely reasonable one taking into account all the other circumstances. Of course, some guarantees should be given by the countries, where those people live who want to adopt – there should be a proper supervision and clear agreements with Ukraine.
Today we are talking about Ukrainian children being adopted abroad, but why do we exclude another option – maybe there are foreign children who will be adopted in Ukraine? I will give you a specific example – when Nazi came to Ukraine and started liquidating Jewish people, there were very many cases when Ukrainian families adopted Jewish boys and girls, took care of them, raised them, ensuring their proper development and proper living conditions. We, Ukrainians, raised foreign children. I heard the evidence of one Jewish woman who was raised in a Ukrainian family who not only hid her but took care of her, treated her like their own daughter. And she was full of gratitude, speaking about those people who raised her.
- Could you please tell us what would be your response to people who ask why foreigners come here and adopt Ukrainian children, if in their countries there are also children who have no parents?
- Here we should remember one thing: that it is a political point of view, not human, not social, but merely political. We know that Russia refused to let Americans adopt their children, but this decision has purely political grounding. I would ask this question: “Why do Americans, being a part of a big nation, of more that 300 million people, go to other countries to marry, aren’t there enough American women for them?” No, for some reasons this person has a certain attitude to another person of different nationality. Maybe those Americans want to have links with Ukraine by adopting a child in need? Why do we still have children who look for families here in Ukraine? Don’t we have parents here? Of course, Ukrainian families should be encouraged to adopt Ukrainian children, but we can’t force anyone. Life is very strange and there may be different circumstances. I can imagine, for example, why someone from Italy would want to adopt a Ukrainian child – maybe his father or grandfather died in Ukraine during the war? But I don’t think that all Italians have one thing on their minds – to adopt Ukrainian children. In the same way, it is not a wide-spread trend in America or any other country. But, in my opinion, there shouldn’t be any extra obstacles.
- And another little question. When the deputies in Verkhovna Rada were voting on this Convention, which says that when all the possibilities to find a family for a child in Ukraine are exhausted, only then we turn to find a foreign family for this child, the deputies were divided into several groups. The Svoboda Party and the Communist Party voted unanimously against this document, saying that everything is fine in this sphere and suggesting prohibiting foreigners to adopt our children at all. Other deputies voted for this Convention realizing that it is an important document. And the President’s party just abstained from voting although the President was the one who brought this Convention to vote. What can we tell to those who are against or who abstain to attract their attention, to encourage them to support this document as those children can’t wait any longer?
- You asked me a very difficult question. I would take a whip and would give them all a good beat, maybe then they would start to think. I think that those who engage in voting in such important issues should first and foremost love people because this is the thing that matters most. They should try finding ways to take the best possible care of those children, not making harm to their development. I think that it is as they say political maneuvering, when some as I see it false, unclear principles start regulating the issues relating to individuals, especially those who are not protected. Every child is unprotected, but those poor little things who are deprived of parental care, they are the ones least protected. That’s why I think that those who make a decision how to vote – for, against or abstain – each of them should bring this issue to his conscience, and not think so to say – I will use this word in its negative meaning – from the political point of view.