Dear Mr Putin,
When my beautiful, 9 year- old son opens his mouth to sing – people stop to listen. He has been bringing joy into people’s lives since he first started to talk at 3. He won his first singing prize as The Most Entertaining Singer when he was only 6 – beating seasoned 16 year olds to the post. And just yesterday he stood with his choir bringing season’s merriment to the visitors of the renowned Kew Gardens in London. His music teacher states that ‘He has the makings of a great musician’.
And as his parent I know he has the makings of a great adult. It has been a rich and rewarding privilege to see this child literally blossom in front of my eyes. From a curious toddler to a well adjusted pre-teen who is proudly and staunchly Russian.
Yes, my son was one of Russia’s disadvantaged children. Deprived of parental care due to neglect he spent just short of two years under State care before ‘coming home’ to the United Kingdom. My decision to adopt a Russian child came from compassion when I first discovered the number of children living in orphanages in Russia and the poor prognosis they have as the age out of the institution. The more research I did the more I knew that I could offer a child a chance, in the words of the Orphanage Director, ‘to have a normal life’.
A chance to have a hug when hurting; encouragement when trying; support when falling. A chance to know what a family is and what security feels like. A chance of hope and a future.
If I have given one of your children anything, it is a voice. And you would have been so proud to hear that voice in the Olympic Stadium this summer. Undaunted by the 80 000 predominantly British supporters, my son, wrapped in a Russian flag shouted out for all the world to hear “Go Russia”, “Go Russia”.
I do not think he will be saying these words today when he hears of your choice to deny the same opportunity to his compatriots. Already at 9, he has an understanding that life is tricky and it does not always work out as planned. He knows that people say and do things that are designed to hurt, but he also knows that to take anything away from someone who has done nothing, is simply wrong. He will ask “Why Mummy?” and I simply could not answer him.
In three weeks time, 120 of his compatriots, now friends, will come together to dance with Ded Moroz around the Christmas tree and to break bread. Each year events are organised by my support organisation RUKA - Russian UK Adoption (whose Russian meaning I am sure is not lost on you) to bring together Russia adopted children, so that they can create bonds with each other, learn about Russian ways and maintain contact with their homeland.
To be at one of these events is incredibly moving. These children are alive, spontaneous, energetic and happy. And why not, they are loved and cherished and the future is in their hands – through adoption they have been given their life back.
And each year we make a prayer for those left behind – praying that they too will be given a chance to lead a happy and normal life. We pray hard, because we all too aware of what their real future holds.
We urge you Mr Putin carefully consider your decision, we urge you to value the lives of your children and of your children’s future children. Do not abandon them; do not destroy their hope and their dream of one day finding a family to love them.