St. Petersburg; Moscow, May 31, 2019
The Synodal Department for Charity and Social Services of the Moscow Patriarchate has several new projects underway.
A new “school” for parents preparing to adopt children with disabilities has opened in St. Petersburg under the auspices of the Charity Department of the St. Petersburg Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church. Psychologists, social workers, lawyers, doctors, and priests, many of whom are adoptive parents themselves, will conduct individual and group training at the “Tenderness” school, the second such institution operated by the Russian Church, reports the Department’s press service.
Candidates for adopting children with disabilities will take regular classes for two months, studying the needs of the child, the structure of family roles, the stages of adaptation, medical aspects of child care, and the basics of legislation and interaction with the bodies governing guardianship and custody.
The school is officially licensed by the state and its program was approved by the St. Petersburg Committee for Social Policy. Upon successful completion of the course, the prospective parents will have the opportunity to adopt a child. Eight potential parents have already begun classes at the school.
While the number of orphans is decreasing in Russia, children with disabilities are rarely placed in homes, noted Fr. Theodosius Ambartsumov, the father of 9 adopted children with disabilities. “We have created a school for adoptive parents to help orphans, children with disabilities, and those who want to be parents of these children but don’t know how to do it,” Fr. Theodosius said.
In addition to the mandatory program for the preparation of adoptive parents, the school will also offer classes on the education of children with disabilities, and the school’s specialists will continue to work with families after the completion of the program. Material assistance to such families will be provided by the St. Seraphim of Vyritsa Children’s Orthodox Mission.
The Russian Church’s first such school opened in 2011 at the Sts. Martha and Mary Monastery in Moscow. Over the past 8 years, 448 people have graduated and 122 children were placed with families.
Meanwhile, the Church will also open a rehabilitation center for drug addicts in Moscow this summer. It will operate at the Holy Trinity Church in Kozhevniki and will be the only free outpatient rehabilitation project in the city, the Synodal Charity Department also reports.
All who come to the program seeking help will be treated, regardless of citizenship or religion. The center will be organized in the format of a day clinic, with an intensive, 7-day a week, 3-month program with individual and group work with psychologists, chemical addiction consultants, and an art therapist. A social worker will help with employment and the clergy will hold regular meetings.
Up to 15 people, both men and women, will be able to undergo rehabilitation at one time. The center is scheduled to open in July.
The Russian Church has opened 70 in-patient rehabilitation centers, 18 re-socialization centers, 67 counseling centers, 16 outpatient and 9 motivational programs, and more than 60 support groups for addicts. The new center will be the Church’s first in Moscow.
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