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Orphan Outreach

Orphan Outreach Adopts Family Support Center in Russia


There are few services available to help adoptive and foster families in Russia. Sometimes children end up back in an orphanage or foster care due to that lack of support.

That is why Orphan Outreach had to step up when it was learned that a local program which offers these services among many others was losing funding. A ministry partnership was quickly formed, and Family Support Center will continue – and expand – its care.

“In Russia, there is a high rate of disruption for these families who adopt and foster,” says Director of Programs Amy Norton. “Russia doesn’t have the same requirements that we do in the U.S. in terms of requiring a certain number of supervisory visits and so on. So, without these programs, these families may not have any support at all.”

Seventeen-year-old Dasha, a second-year-student at St. Petersburg School of Fashion, attributes a lot of her family’s success to the support she received from the Family Support Center.

“I lost my parents when I was very little,” she says. “I have very few memories of them. Then I was raised by a grandmother, but she passed away when I was only 10. Then my godmother adopted me, and it was like a miracle.”

“Being part of the Family Support Center helped me and my family a lot. Psychologists helped me manage my emotions, and I know my mother also attends a lot of meetings and consultations, getting help. Social workers helped us find my sister and establish good relationships with her and her family. It was a very emotional period for me and for her. I am very grateful for everything this program offers, and we continue attending a lot of events and meetings there.”

The Family Support Center supervises more than 100 families with adopted children, children in foster care, kinship care and guardianship. The children are ages 0-18.

“Our families with adopted children as well as foster/guardianship families are supervised by three professional psychologist-social workers,” says Natasha Votyakova, who oversees Orphan Outreach programs in Russia and eastern Europe. “Each of these professionals works with up to 30 families. They provide any kind of help needed such as psychological, medical, legal and educational.”

Besides strengthening the foster and adoptive families, the Family Support Center now does preventative work by offering family preservation programs for parents who are at-risk of being separated from their biological children.

“One of our priorities is to identify the families at risk of being separated, and provide help before it is too late,” shares Natasha. “Our task is to prevent children from becoming orphans, and help the family to overcome difficulties that they face and determine if there is a potential for this family to stay united, or if the kids are in danger and need to be taken away and placed in institutions or with relatives.”

These families receive case management services through social workers and psychologists, Amy explains, adding that trainings, group therapy and events are all provided.

The Family Support Center has earned such a high reputation with the government that its staff is now collaborating with city employees to determine how to place the children who need care, whether in an orphanage, an adoptive family, a guardianship family or a foster family.

"With the addition of the Family Support Center in Russia, Orphan Outreach will now be providing community-based services in every country we serve, except for the Ukraine," shares Amy.

"Our prayer is that people will come alongside us to, not only pay for salaries, but also to provide services for the families in terms of programs, get togethers, support and even educational opportunities for the children."

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