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, June 16, 2012

Children of Serbia

I have been in the orphanage in Belgrade four times now. Three times I have looked into the eyes of children who have never had someone return the look with love in their eyes. I have loved on children who have never before felt love. I have seen children who's lives are spent in a crib, waiting for the next time someone else chooses to move them. I have seen children who are blind left alone in their darkness. I have seen children who are deaf left alone in their silence. I have seen children with autism left to linger in their own solitary world. I have seen children with Down syndrome left to do nothing. Nothing at all.

Many of you reading here have read about the stories from all over the world. The horrible facilities where the "useless eaters" waste away to nothing. These same facilities exist all over the world, and Serbia is no exception.

My heart lies in Serbia. It aches for the children left behind. Unfortunately pictures of the orphans of Serbia cannot be posted on websites or blogs. As much as I want to get their story out, I also must respect the laws of Serbia regarding child privacy. And so,  I need to ask you to use your imagination a bit, to picture Pleven  to remember the investigation done by MDRI in 2007. (we have reason to believe Axel is one of the children pictured in the Serbia video).

According to the MDRI report: "Children with disabilities come directly from the hospital to the orphanage. Doctors encourage this. There is no interest in adopting children even with the mildest disability. Children without disabilities will go to foster families or will be adopted. Children with disabilities are left behind." – doctor, Subotica Institution for babies

Because the pictures cannot be posted, people forget these children exist. Adoption agencies don't make money on a child who's face can't be shown. Nobody is knocking down the doors of Serbia to find homes for these children. Families seem to hardly think twice about spending $20, $30, even $40,000 to adopt children from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia, China, Haiti. But Serbia, the least expensive country in the world to adopt from, free of all corruption - my adoption of Asher totaled $7100! - and yet nobody is saving the children. All because of one measly picture.

I must tell you, there are plenty of Ashers, Axels, Ivans, Marys, and Nicks in Serbia. There are laying down rooms, there are rooms no outsider will ever get into. There are institutions in Subotica, Kolevka, Kulina, Veliki Popovac, Veternik, Stamnica, Kovin, Curug...and more. *note not all of these facilities have children residing in them.* According to the report done by MDRI in 2007, in a country not much bigger than the state of Minnesota there are 78 institutions. Among them are 5 residential facilities for children.

I've posted before how Serbian adoptions work. No, you won't find pictures of Serbian orphans here or on any other website, but if you choose to pursue a Serbian adoption you will not travel without knowing information - and having had the opportunity to ask questions - about the child you'll be bringing home. It is like getting a prenatal diagnosis in a pregnancy; you know the child's diagnosis, age, height and weight, (and depending upon the child's social worker you might even get a picture of them before you travel) Just in case you need a reminder of the face of Serbian adoption, here are our two Serbian princes!

Axel at 4 months home

Asher home 5 months


Hevel Cohen said...

Time for a very visible awareness campaign I think.

Mary said...

Jacob, DS, home since 2009, was a child in Kulina in that 2007 report. He was 10 years old and weighed 30 bs when we adopted him. We saw the "good orphanage" where we adopted him from, with a child in a pack and play who NEVER got out. They said he was self abusive and they needed to decrease his stimulation. We saw workers (Nurses) sitting at the end of the hall under the "no smoking" sign, smoking, doing their hair, laughing and enjoying each other's company, while ROOMS of chidren were left totally unattended and the children left to "play" with no toys and no supervision...for HOURS at a time. We saw chidren THROWN into bed at 5:55PM, after 2 minutes of feeding them their dinner, diapers changed at 4PM, no jammies, just what they wore for the day. THROWN because they were crying for more food after 2 minutes of feeding. And we saw, when we left with our son, not one nurse with a tear or a hug for him. When we asked that our translator explain to him what was going on, that he would be getting on an airplane with mama and papa, she would not since he woudl not understand anyway. It is very sad

Amy L said...

I've been told that Serbia will make an exception for a single mom to adopt if the child is older and/or disabled. Is that true? I don't think I will ever be able to swing another adoption, but I would adopt from Serbia if I could. My heart is with the "older" boys with Ds. And I'm not afraid of a blind referral either. Elijah was a blind referral. It's actually very exciting!

DandG said...

Could you please give me the contact information? My husband just agreed to look into special needs adoption, so we will be starting our homestudy soon. At the same time, I am working on starting an advocacy community in my congregation. I would love to be able to create more awareness of Serbia in this context.

Destany is in my prayers,


Lorraine, AKA Forever Blessed said...

Our precious princess, Chrissie, was from Serbia. She lived in the Kolevka institution in Subotica. She was 1 of 3 children in the institution (which had hundreds of children) who did not have Down syndrome or some other physical disability. (She had severe congenital heart defects, which took her to meet Jesus sooner than we would have chosen, but she did not die an orphan.) There were several children at Kolevka who I get to play with daily, several I was told were available for international adoption. I would adopt from Serbia again in a heartbeat. Oh how I would love to go back there and meet Chrissie's birth parents, give them a photo album of our sweet princess, whom we loved, treasured, and adored with all our hearts. She was indeed a rare treasure, and I know there are many more waiting in Serbia. Thank you for advocating for these forgotten ones.

Beck Gambill said...

I'm excited to find your website through a friend. I have a heart for Serbia and her disabled children too! I've never been there and I'm not at this time adopting. But my best friend and I are traveling this October to Veternik. I contacted the institution to see if I could come visit and find out how best to help them care for the children residing there. I'm praying to build healthy relationships and to begin moving toward improved quality of life for the children. As well as advocating for their adoption. I was surprised by how warmly my request was received. My dearest hope is that in time these children and adults will no longer live lonely, painful lives. I also long to adopt a precious Down syndrome child from Serbia as well.

Melissa said...

A year into researching I'm done with the whole picture thing. I didn't know what any of my birth kiddos looked like either and we were just fine. Plus the pictures actually make it harder to choose, like you are picking based on looks. Thanks for the info!