Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Imagine a different life (repost)

I originally wrote this post a couple of years ago, but feel it's very timely to repost it again, since I'm now sitting in a hotel room in Bulgaria.

Last week I experienced something most never hope to witness in their entire lives-the inside of an orphanage in Eastern Europe. Tomorrow I'll be at another in Bulgaria. The institutions I am visiting are considered "good ones", but still, there are plenty of images I wish were not etched into my memory. Of children bound to their cribs, force feedings, severe isolation. I'd hoped I could come here and tell you the reports I'd read were wild exaggerations, and that Ann Curry's report was sensationalized reporting meant to draw an audience.

I was wrong. They are right. If you haven't read this post before, please do. If you've already read it, please pass it along, then be sure to read my other posts from this week. Please don't turn away because you don't want your heart to hurt. The only way to stop this madness is for more hearts to know the truth.

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Imagine you're a newborn baby. Born in a land far different than where you are now. A place where the value of human life is much different than it is in developed countries. Now imagine that you were born with something like Down Syndrome, or something as minor as a hand deformity.

Your parents will be told to send you away, that there is no care for you, and you're going to die anyway. So your parents follow the advice of doctors and bring you to an orphanage. But remember, this is an orphanage in a 3rd world country. You spend your days, weeks, months and years cold, hungry, and without medical care. If you're lucky, there will be one caregiver who takes a liking to you and tries to give you some extra attention each day.

But there's something looming over you. Something that most children in the world celebrate...your 4th birthday. Only for you, this birthday brings a death sentence, because in many of these countries, if you turn 4 and have not been adopted you'll be moved to a mental institution where you are no longer available for adoption. For all intense purposes, to the rest of the world you are dead.

There you well spend your days like this
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You will be straight jacketed in sheets. Why? Because of the intense boredom and lack of human physical contact you will resort to desperate measures, even if it means gouging your own eyes out. The only contact you will get with people is if you're lucky, someone will notice that your sheets are full of urine and feces and decide to change them. You will never see sunshine. You will never smell fresh air, only the overpowering odor of urine and feces from several hundred children just like you crammed into the same building getting the same lack of care. You will likely die within the first couple of years from some terrible illness, severe dehydration, or hypothermia from lack of heat in the decrepit building.

Or perhaps you would be like this little girl. Bound by her wrists for years already, left alone in a state of severe dehydration. TIED TO HER BED!!!!!
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If you don't die within the first couple of years, your body might continue to grow. But don't think it will get you a bigger bed. Instead you'll be forced to spend more years in the same crib, just like these TEENAGERS have been crammed in.
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But it doesn't have to be this way! It doesn't! While governments and organizations like Mental Disability Rights International will have to deal with the indidual countries, there are ways to save these children! Reece's Rainbow is an adoption organization dedicated to rescuing children with Down Syndrome from certain death in these countries. There are many children who are approaching their 4th birthday. While not everyone is in a position to adopt a child, Reece's Rainbow has established a fund for each child to help with the adoption expenses so that nobody can say, "I would do it if I had the money."

Even if you can't adopt a child, can you spare $5, $10 or more so that someone else can? Please...this makes me sick to know these children are dying. Read through the child profiles. You'll find children that have nothing wrong with them other than an eye that needs surery, or a hand that has a mild deformity, yet they have been thrown away. But we can save them!!!!

1 comment:

Aimee Crane said...

This is heartbreaking beyond words. I remember a 20/20 expose back in maybe 1990 or 1991. I'm speechless that these conditions still exist. Thank you for bringing this out to the light. I am praying this tragedy can be eliminated quickly. When these little ones suffer, we are all diminished.