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Sochi Olympics: Beyond the Stadiums. The Grim behind the Gold.

The Olympics have garnered many criticisms directed at the host country this year, from hotel room accommodations, to the way they treat their stray dogs.  People express outrage or laughing shock at what they see and hear.   Americans are taking a hard look at Russia and their smiling leader, grinning at the crowds, but what I want for people to know most of all is that behind the impressive stadium, the elaborate, newly constructed rinks and showy, over the top visual declarations of wealth and importance, that there are hundreds and thousands of people who you will not see on videos broadcasting around the world.  Tucked away, hidden from our view, are the voiceless and frail.  In abundance.   The money is not spent on the ones who survive, or don’t, in the care of the government.  And when you see the glitz and the show, remember the ones who have no allotment for their care, by Russia, their country.  They sit in filth, alone and cold, digging holes in the wall, their only view, tied to their beds, as we laugh from our abundance at their hotels and empathize, become called to action to adopt and care for their lonely dogs.  What I want you to do, is remember the ones who have no voice.  Have no care, in the care of the host country.  There are more than you could count, behind locked doors in water stained, crumbling cement buildings.  Many don’t survive.  But we won’t hear live tweets in their defense. IMG_0163Living in tattered clothes, in cold buildings, under fed, while funds are poured into rinks and decorations to enchant the crowds to earn acclaim and a world standing.  Russia is a powerful country, but know, their press is state run.

51 billion dollars, a colossal event, leaves many out.

The truth is, their children without parents are just not important enough.  You won’t hear one of their voices, or see their faces from the world’s cameras now flooding into Russia, but I want you to know they are there, the grim behind the gold. photo_2

{Our son, in his first bath in Russia the day we took him from his orphanage}

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Enjoy the Olympics and cheer for your teams.  People have worked their lives for this season.  And while criticism is stirred and people exclaim and mock, remember that you can use your voice for people and children.  Issues of the Russian adoption ban, and basic human rights can be lost when you hear world leaders speaking out about yogurt, the press focusing on accommodations.

But as people, please know, things are happening and children living in ways that you would not feel comfortable with.  That would outrage you.  That would hurt your soul if you were to see, smell or touch.

If you could hear their voices.  If the cameras found them.

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Knowing is power.

Action is important.

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Laugh if you want at what the news shares, but with our voices, we want you to see the truth, that effects the smallest, the most in need, and the most forgotten.

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{ 53 comments… add one }

  • Cheryl Schalk February 14, 2014, 11:25 am

    Thank you Amy for this post. The suffering of children cannot be dismissed because of a successful show put on by Putin. The coverage by NBC that brags of Russia is disgusting. I don’t watch the Olympics this year because of all the tragedies in Russia, especially orphans who are part of a political game. There was a genocide committed in Sochi also and the hypocrisy is maddening.

    • tinyteam February 14, 2014, 2:27 pm

      I know, I hear you on that.

  • Rachel Jobin February 14, 2014, 11:37 am

    Amy, I am so glad you’ve shared your thoughts on this. I’ve thought about you and your family many times through these Games, and during the coverage before. I feel so exasperated and sad every time they show Putin.

    • tinyteam February 14, 2014, 2:29 pm

      Totally. It’s not an easy sight to see.

  • Katrina February 14, 2014, 11:50 am

    Thank you for blogging about the forgotten children. It really is sad to think that so many of them could have been home watching the Olympics from the comfort of their new homes. I was a guest blogging here and wrote some about the children who met families and the broken promises to them. http://babynumber10.blogspot.com/2014/02/broken-promises-post-that-needs-to-go.html

  • Karen February 14, 2014, 12:46 pm

    GREAT post. So many hurting innocent children who need nothing more then a family. It is unbelievable that they would be denied that.

    • tinyteam February 15, 2014, 11:55 am

      I don’t see the point in it all either, it’s destructive.

  • Candice February 14, 2014, 2:35 pm

    Your words ring in my heart. I’ve been there too and the faces of the little ones in my daughter’s groupa still haunt me. I would do anything for the opportunity to go back and bring more of them home.

  • Candice February 14, 2014, 3:02 pm

    You’re talking right to my heart sister. I’ve been there too and those little faces from my daughter’s groupa still haunt me. Wishing and praying for a way to go back…

    • tinyteam February 15, 2014, 11:56 am

      Yes, I feel the exact same way as you. They are not forgotten.

  • t... February 14, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Wow so powerful…

  • B February 15, 2014, 12:23 am

    Thanks for all you do to speak out on behalf of those left behind! There can never be enough of us giving a voice to those who cannot speak out for themselves. Some are working toward awareness. Some are working for an amendment. Some are working toward enabling more Russian citizens to care for the children in orphanages. Some are working toward enabling Russians to keeping their biological children rather than abandoning. I have to stay optimistic and believe that this situation WILL get better…much better and hopefully soon.

  • Katie Jay February 15, 2014, 5:19 am

    Thank you for speaking up for the Russian orphans.

  • Sharon Dennehy February 15, 2014, 5:24 am

    Thank you for sharing this grim truth with us. I am an adoptive mom of nine internationally and my heart breaks for the ones I can’t help.

    • tinyteam February 15, 2014, 11:56 am

      But thank you for doing SOMETHING to change the life of many. You are awesome!

  • staci February 15, 2014, 7:28 am

    Yes this breaks my heart. I adopted a child from there. Born blind and abandoned by his mother. At the age of 5 he was going to be locked away in an institution because he was an “unwanted burden” defected in the eyes of their country. He became my son at the age of 6 and is now 15. He reads music in braille, plays the trumpet, runs track, records music and dreams of becoming a music teacher someday. Russia, open your eyes, open your hearts, open your borders, and let Americans adopt those children again!!

  • Tricia February 15, 2014, 8:06 am

    My husband and I feel so frustrated every time we here the people losing their minds over the dogs (we are HUGE animals lovers also) or the silly whining over the toilets or who knows what. It hurts my heart my heart that so many innocent children are being hidden away and treated worse than those dogs and yet no one is screaming and yelling to save them. Every time I see another report about a celebrity or some big shot we are “supposed” to care about crying over the treatment of the dogs or that they are going to donate all their proceeds from this or that to save the dogs I want to scream. I am so glad for your two sweethearts that they are safe and loved but I wish the rest of the world would open their eyes. Being a young couple it is so frustrating when it seems so many people our age are only concerned with themselves and getting the newest car and phone. It is so difficult when you have been in these horrible places and love the children who are being forced to live like this and 99% of the world would rather pretend it is not real.

    • Susan February 15, 2014, 9:44 am

      I too am and adoptive mom, and struggle with the issues raised here, but let us all remember that we are not all called to the same path. Whereas we may be called to speak for the plight of the orphan, this young athlete may have been called to speak for the animal, who also has no voice. In a society, where, as you mention, everyone is focused on “self” and accumulation of wealth, this young man is taking a stand and is at least doing something for another of “the least of these” and should be commended for doing so. We each cannot do everything, but we can at least do something, and he is at least doing something.

      Perhaps through this blog, the reality of the lives of Russia’s forgotten children will be brought to the surface and change will happen. Amy, bless you for speaking up for them.

    • tinyteam February 15, 2014, 11:58 am

      Yes, I hear you on that. We are all for people being brave and standing up for the vulnerable, animals too, that is a much needed gift. It was a bit unnerving to be only hearing this end of it, when the plight of these little ones is huge.

  • Susan in Kentucky February 15, 2014, 8:39 am

    There are at least seven orphanages and institutions – some for children with special needs – in and around Sochi, according to online listings of Russian orphanages. I wonder if Putin and his cronies have bothered to visit any of these places, or have invited any of the institutionalized children to visit any of the Olympic events?
    Even worse, just a couple of days ago, Russian laws were changed so that now, only Italians may adopt, due to anti-gay legislation. Purely punitive – but it’s the children who are being punished most severely.

    I am so glad your two are free – but hurt for those left behind, and am outraged at the hypocrisy of Putin and his ilk.

    Susan in Ky
    Cousin to 2 from EE

  • Beth February 15, 2014, 9:07 am

    Thank you, this post is spot on and beautifully written. I will be sharing on FB. It is so frustrating to see the focus on stray dogs and hotel rooms, are we so shallow as American’s – as a global community that we refuse to notice true human suffering? Heart breaking…

    • tinyteam February 15, 2014, 11:58 am

      I like what you said about a global community. I agree.

  • Katy February 15, 2014, 9:09 am

    My heart is broken. How I want to go care for and love each of those children. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us of these beautiful children!

  • Debby February 15, 2014, 9:49 am

    Great blog. One of the photos you have looks exactly like our daughter when we met her at the Russian orphanage. I am so glad that I have my little girl and feel heartbreak for all the babies left behind. I pray that one day all the children will be loved by forever families but fear this won’t ever happen in my lifetime.

  • Cheryl February 15, 2014, 11:43 am

    This saddenes my heart….. Putin is putting om a show—- expect tne unexpected!!!! Many countries will be caught off guard, especially the goid old USA

  • mommyof1 February 15, 2014, 12:23 pm

    they’re just babies….how could anyone do this to babies or children….I thought the dogs were harsh but babies take it way too far I’d take them all

  • Claudia February 15, 2014, 12:37 pm

    and if the child is disabled it is even worse- doctors only come buy to show their medical students “real life examples of the text book picture”.
    the man who runs this country is the one to blame but any one who speaks out against the way things are going- like the singers a couple of years ago- pays dearly.
    even if he would visit these places he really would never see what we have seen because for that day everything will be perfect- because if it is not, somebody pays.
    but we also need to remember how much money is made on these games and if Russia wants to be playing with the big kids it needs to get it right, and that means hotels, rinks, and all that goes with hosting the Olympics.

  • sharon February 15, 2014, 12:38 pm

    I do not think Americans are shallow by focusing on the dogs…from what news reports have said, stray dogs are running around everywhere, kind of hard to miss…and I am quite sure Putin is not letting international community anywhere near Russian orphanages…It is not any different from when China hosted the Games in Beijing, and made sure to have any special needs children shipped outside of Beijing.
    How can Americans, and the rest of the world be empathetic to these children, if they do not know about them? Your post is helping to address this, but this is not being done on a large scale..
    so it is simplistic and incorrect to categorize people as shallow because they care about the stray dogs..
    By the way I am the parent of a child from China..

    Also I am not boycotting the Olympics, not happy about Russia being the host country, but it is the spirit of the international community coming together for competition that I honor, by watching the Olympics..
    Just my two cents

    • essere February 17, 2014, 5:16 am

      Well stated, Sharon. When Americans learn of an injustice, whether toward a helpless animal or a child, they respond like no other country. I am tired of the American bashing on every level. You cannot expect people to respond when the press is not bringing this information to the public. There is more focus on gay rights than basic human rights. Hollywood and the press publish the pictures of gay pride, and parade around in rainbows while these little children suffer behind the scenes. Really sad.

  • pat February 15, 2014, 4:45 pm

    Thanks for saying what all of us who have adopted feel about Russia and these Olympics.

  • Ali February 15, 2014, 5:20 pm

    Important message …and before we are too hard on Russia we must remember and hear the unheard of the USA! Those hundreds who go to school hungry and those who aren’t even given life as newborns! Those who are lost in foster care and those who are neglected in their own homes while neighbors look the other way! In a country as wealthy as ours surely we could care for our own and those of other country’s who have less than us to start! Keep it up! Speak for those who aren’t given a chance!

    • tinyteam February 15, 2014, 5:24 pm
  • Karla Smith February 15, 2014, 5:39 pm

    My husband visited Russia and was invited to tour a few of the orphanages….what he witnessed were deplorable conditions, babies and children alone in cribs, malnourished, no hands-on care, very, very sad, heartbreaking! One would think that if Russia were as wealthy as they are desparately trying to “show the world” that first they would take care of their future generation. Shame on Putin for spending billions “showboating”…..

  • Carolopolis February 16, 2014, 11:38 am

    All I can say is thank you through tear stained eyes, spread the word, people need to know this is communism at its finest.

  • Laura Bailey February 16, 2014, 4:39 pm

    Exactly! When we turned on the TV and saw the “Iceberg” the first thing I said to my husband was, “All of that money that they spent on this thing and they’ve got babies suffering in horrible conditions?! Really?!” Each time that I see Russian athletes, I wonder if they know about the children in their own country – do they care? Do the Russians even know what conditions their children are in? Has their government done a spectacular job at hiding this disgrace from them? Are we privy to it because we are the ones who are adopting their unwanted children (and being the “big mouthed Americans” that we are, we expose the truth?)? My heart aches for these children, these “unwanted” souls who are dying to be loved. I tried to adopt from there….

  • michelle February 16, 2014, 5:50 pm

    Ali, I am a social worker and have devoted my life to helping America’s children. I have also traveled to Russia and seen first hand what deplorable conditions these children live in. For the most part, the U.S. has a pretty good system and certainly strives to properly feed and clothe our children. This is simply not the case in Russia. While I certainly agree that ALL children need to be well cared for, there should never be a time that we chose to ignore suffering children just so that we can “care for our own first”.

    • Marcella Pollock February 17, 2014, 6:48 am

      In our country “social workers” steal children to give to the rich who cannot have children. And it is easier to look the other way and say “our government wouldn’t do that” I have seen first hand. So this person is not wrong for at least trying to also bring a voice to those in this country. Our government is far from being beyond reproach. This country has more than it’s share of corruption and voiceless. I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about the plight of those in Russia. Because if I hadn’t read this post I wouldn’t have known and we can’t help if we don’t know. But we should care about what is going on here as well. And when we live in glass houses we shouldn’t throw stones.

  • Lou February 16, 2014, 6:34 pm

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is what I’ve been trying to put into words since the beginning of the Olympics.

  • Heather @ It's a Lovely Life! February 16, 2014, 9:50 pm

    You summed it up perfectly! This is the only think I can think about with the Olympics being there. I can’t think of the completion aspect, or the events… I only can think about all the children sitting in these horrid conditions when there are parents out there that want them. So sad.

  • Sam February 16, 2014, 10:21 pm

    Sharing this everywhere I can and praying.

  • Ashley February 16, 2014, 10:42 pm

    The very first baby picture (in pink in the crib) – does anyone know what has happened to this baby? Did he or she get a family?

  • Melissa February 17, 2014, 6:23 am

    This hurts my heart and makes me sick to my stomach. :(

  • Ola February 17, 2014, 6:42 am

    It’s a sad piece of legislature for sure, sickening to some, I’m sure.., but what does the Olympics have to do with it?? We KILL our babies here.. China has certainly had plenty of human rights issues going on ( from alleged forced abortions to I don’t what), probably while their events in Beijing were going on.. ..i understand when people feel strong about some issue, they are going to bring it up every chance they get, and now that Russia’s in he world’s spotlight seems like a perfect time to do so. But what good does that do? What exactly does it accomplish to bad- mouth a country hosting a world-wide athletic event, and doing a top -notch job of it? Are we really that arrogant and full of ourselves that we can’t even appreciate and offer our due respect to the sportsmanship, the sacrifices and the height of human excellence that is reflected in what these athletes from around the world do over there ( yes, even from some of those “horrible” countries, like Iran and Russia)? And yes, in the setting of splendor and grandeur that they all fully deserve! I wish people would just hush and enjoy the show for what it is ( and not making something out of it that it s NOT). The focus is on the athletes right now, and THAT’s where it needs to stay.

  • Sandy Clabaugh February 17, 2014, 10:20 am

    So much of what you describe about the spending on things that aren’t necessary while the people go without can equally be leveled against the US.

  • Laurie February 17, 2014, 1:52 pm

    I wish I could wrap my arms around and hold each of them. :( my heart hurts also

  • Emily February 17, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Did you see the story world news did last week about Russian orphans? They highlighted a family that adopted an 8 year old and were planning on adopting his 5 year old brother but hadn’t completed the process before the ban went into effect…

  • Crystal February 18, 2014, 5:31 am

    I’ve been saying the exact same thing since the Opening Ceremony! Thanks, Amy. I’m so glad you have this platform.

  • Cammie February 18, 2014, 9:48 am

    I have been saying this since the start of the Olympics. How much money do we as not only Americans but human beings waste on things that don’t matter while innocent children are treated badly & neglected in any corner of the world. We need to also walk the walk.

    I am sorry but what can you expect from a government that is run by individuals so ignorant and heartless that they made a public statement on the world stage asking any homosexual’s visiting their country to “just leave the children alone”!!! The hypocrisy in that statement alone made me sick to my stomach. If they care about the children so much why do they spend billions on Olympic venues while babies don’t have clean clothes, food or love? Despicable!

  • Deeanna McClard February 19, 2014, 5:57 am

    Thank you, Amy for speaking out for these voiceless little ones. They were the ones I thought of first when I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. I want to urge people to pray, pray, pray!! DO NOT underestimate the power of prayer!! God has delivered many of these orphans because the faithful prayed them out of their deplorable conditions and treatment. IF YOU ARE NOT ABLE TO ADOPT, PLEASE PRAY!! Pray for the families that are now in the midst of their adoption journey and pray for families for the ones that are still waiting. I have seen God do amazing things for these families and children because of faithful prayer warriors. Focus on one child or one family if you like, but PLEASE pray!!

  • Beth February 19, 2014, 8:11 am

    Thank you for this. I have a friend who adopted a beautiful boy from Russia, one more out and saved!

  • Dawn February 19, 2014, 2:51 pm

    Brings me back to when we adopted our kids from kazakhstan

  • Rose-Marie February 20, 2014, 12:30 pm

    Please, let all believers amongst us agree to pray there may be a break-through concerning the opening of foreign adoptions … God can break through any wall.

  • Joseph Magyar March 14, 2014, 10:47 pm

    As an adopted parent and now an adopted (Russian) grandfather I understand this blog but the politics of Russia is making their children’s conditions a poker chip in the international seine. This must be tackled as a humanity issue not as political issue. Remember the Russians are the same type of humans as we. They want the same things we want, so when you deride them you do not build, but tear down the possibility of positive change. In the name of my Russian granddaughter (who I love dearly) build bridges don’t tear them down.

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