For most, the warmth of spring eventually comes to swallow winter. But for the 842,000 children presently living in government-run orphanages in Russia, reports Childrens HopeChest, an evangelical organization doing multifaceted work with orphans, a piercing cold permeates their futures in the form of a social, spiritual, and emotional freezeregardless of season. From the time they enter an orphanage until they "graduate" into a society that has few, if any, productive placements for them, the motherless and fatherless in Russia struggle against staggering odds for legitimacy, hope, and freedom.
Without a viable adoption or foster-care system, the orphanages are the default destination for the Russian children who, at a rate of 113,000 a year, are abandoned by their parents due to alcoholism, poverty, or other stresses.
In 1998, Human Rights Watch reported that Russian policy toward orphaned children violated as many as 20 of the 41 articles in the U.N.s "Convention on the Rights of the Child." Descriptions of brutal practices like tethering children to their beds and sadistic, staff-condoned violence against younger children by their older peers created a damning portrait of cruelty, neglect, and oppression during these childrens institutionalized years.