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!"

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Defending the fatherless

Most of you know that my family is in the middle of adoption from Eastern Europe, but I have a lot of new readers in the past couple of months, so I'm going to take the opportunity Down syndrome Awareness month offers to talk about the plight of orphans who have Down syndrome living in Eastern Europe. Please allow me to repost:

There are many children in the orphanages who will never be adopted, either because nobody wants them, or because they have been deemed "unadoptable".

When I met "M" (pictured below in my previous post) and after spending some time with her, I made the comment, "She has so much potential! She will take off if only she is given the chance at a family." The staff looked at me as if I had just grown 3 heads right before their eyes.

You see, in their culture, "having potential" doesn't have the same meaning it does to me. To them, it means being able to have a college education, or at a minimum go to a regular school. To me it means the child has the DESIRE to live, and ABILITY to communicate, even in the smallest of ways, and I can see how quickly he or she attempts to interract with me. (sadly, there are some who have lost the will to live, and you can see it in their vacant eyes.) For M, it took less than 5 minutes to teach her three signs. "Me", "More", and "camera".

There comes a point when someone has to decide which children's names will be placed on the list that says they are free for adoption. "M", wasn't one of those children. When we asked why, we were told, "Who would want her? There are so few families, we save the spots for those who are more likely to find a family."

Later, a staff person asked me to explain to her what I meant when I said a child had potential, because clearly "smart" to me had a different meaning than it did to the people of their country. You have to understand, this person has a heart for these children. She will FOREVER be a friend to me. She is working against a society who doesn't understand WHY in the world we would want these children. Is it any wonder their biological parents don't want to take them home when they will only be stared at by strangers, and ridiculed by their friends?

I explained that there is a family for EVERY SINGLE CHILD THERE, no matter how severely delayed they are, even if they are nothing more than breathing lumps of skin and bones taking up space. To be honest, after years of institutional life, there are many children who would fit just this description. But somewhere, deep inside them, is a spirit, and a spirit doesn't need a whole, fully functioning physical body to live! So yes, there is a family for every child, but those families will never know their child is out there...waiting...unless they are made available for adoption and we can talk about them! Without exposure to the world of parents who are searching for THEIR child, these children will die a miserable death. Just last week, two children died in this facility...and they died alone.

I pray that we convinced her to get every child on that list that they can. While it seems an impossible goal to find a home for every child, God has no limits! HE knows where every child belongs, weather it be in his arms or in the arms of earthly parents.

Here is a child who is considered "unadoptable".

Do you see how big my hand is on his chest? Guess his age. No, you're not even close, guess again. He is 21 months old, and he is the size of the average American 4 month old. This lack of growth doesn't have anything to do with his heart condition, but rather his life in an institution with a lack of physical stimulation. Don't get me wrong, the caregivers are trying, but they are short staffed, and there are soooo many children.

He has Down syndrome, and a severe heart defect....and he is blind. He was afraid of me when I first touched him. A voice speaking sounds he doesn't understand, a hand he couldn't touch because he had socks over them to stop him from chewing on them. And yet, it only took a few minutes of stroking his face, and talking to him softly, telling how much God loves him, before I got this

Giggles that came all the way from his toes!!!! And with that giggle the tears came streaming down my cheeks, because the reality was just too much for me to comprehend. Holding him proved to be more than I could handle. You see, he snuggled into me, sucking the love out of my heart like a sponge as my tears spilled down my cheeks. I turned away from the rest of our group, afraid that my "weakness" would get us kicked out.  Putting him back in his seat was indescribable. I fastened him back in, then quietly stepped out into the hall to collect myself. 

This boy spends his days in a crib, either sitting in an infant seat on the floor (or sometimes it's sitting in the crib) or just laying in his bed, waiting for the next time a caregiver has a moment to come check on him. If he's lucky, they'll have time to hold him. He has a roommate who will be going home to his forever family soon. A little boy with no arms and legs, but is cognitively normal. His other roommate cries all the time, but her cries are not always answered. Even so, she'll go home to a family before too long. But this boy? No. Not him. He will spend his days isolated in the darkness of blindness, listening to the sounds of the world go by in the hallway, all the while waiting.........just waiting.......and eventually his waiting will end and he'll find himself in the arms of a father who loves him more than any of us ever could.


Cara and Doug said...

I would gladly take him!! He is too cute!

Christine said...

Leah your heart just sings in this post. What a beautiful little boy. Is he is Bulgaria?

Kimberly said...

I am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks. Thank you for sharing the story of these children. I am praying that the hearts of those who determine which children are "adoptable" will change, and this precious child will find a forever family.

Linnea said...

I would adopt him in a heartbeat!