Tatyana, 66, adopted her first child in 1975. Her late husband was an orphan and determined to spare as many children as possible from the experiences he endured growing up in a state-run orphanage. The Sorokins had two biological children and went on to adopt or foster 74. Tatyana calculates that, including grandchildren, there are 120 members of her immediate family. She currently has 17 children living with her. ‘You can put off everything until tomorrow, except for eating,’ she says, in a kitchen hung with drying laundry. Around her, her children take turns to eat at the table. Her newest arrival, five-year-old Kolya, has been with her for two months. He’s settling in after having been rejected by a previous adoptive family. As we speak, she is waiting to hear about three more children whom she hopes to adopt from a children’s home in Irkutsk, in Eastern Siberia. Some of Tatyana’s children belong to the category known in Russia as ‘social orphans’: a classification that applies to those with parents who are living but unable to cope. The former lives of the children she has adopted are like a catalogue of Russia’s chronic social problems: poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism. Increasingly, religion is being prescribed as the solution.