I just posted the following on Facebook:
We are very sad. We found out Andre, the boy we wanted to adopt, still hasn’t been adopted. We still would love to find a family to adopt this 11 YO Ukrainian blind child; we still grieve that we can’t.
Two people liked my status.
I’m not sure what that means. The Facebook “like” button is strange. It could mean “I like this”, or it could mean “This is interesting”, or it could mean “Yeah, I agree”, or “I want to see this later”. Putting that aside for the moment though, it puts me in mind of something, maybe a challenge. Maybe a challenge for everyone, including me.
All the time, whenever we see something awful, or heart wrenching, or unjust, someone is bound to say, “Someone should do something about that.” It might be, “There ought to be a law”, or “How sad, why doesn’t someone step in”, or words to that effect, but it boils down to “Someone should do something about that”.
In our case, it’s adoption. Don’t get me started. Well, except this is my space, and I’ll get started if I damn well please. Generally speaking, when someone or some couple wants to adopt, and I’ve seen this time and time and time again, they want to adopt healthy babies. The younger and healthier, the better. In the case of international adoptions, Ukraine in particular since that’s where my experience is, people want kids as close to 18 month old as possible (because Ukraine doesn’t adopt them out any younger), and with “minor, correctable conditions”. “Minor correctable” basically means that they don’t want the kids with any sort of significant disability, so the kids with missing limbs, CP, kids who need wheelchairs or have seizures, no one wants those. Kids that are older, no one wants those either. Kids who are older and have some sort of disability? Forget about it.
But those kids need families, too. Moreover, they need families because once they age out of the system, they will not have the opportunities that the “healthy” kids have. You think it’s bad for people with disabilities here? We’ve got it pretty good.
Our adoption facilitator told us once that he didn’t like it when adopting parents talked about going over to “save” some child. He said, “They aren’t saving that child at all.” And, in the main, he may have a point. But the kids that most people don’t want really would be saved if they could just find homes with loving families. Our Alena, for instance, would, we were told, be dead by now had we not adopted her. She would be dead because the orphanages couldn’t keep her meds up. This is what they said before they knew of her seizure disorder, while they had her on prednazone from the age of two months old. Yeah, if they dropped her off that cold turkey, between that and the seizures, she probably would be dead. A world without Alena hardly bears thinking about.
There’s a place, a terrible, awful place, where kids that are severely disabled, are sent. Conditions there are described as being very like a concentration camp, with beds only 18 inches apart, where non-ambulatory children and young adults are left to sit (or lie) in their own waste. And that’s just the start. See a video (in Russian) here and see photos here.
These are, of course, the worst examples. We are fortunate that Alena was in a great facility when she was a toddler, and the one she got transferred to was also good, if a bit grim in atmosphere. Andre was in the same baby home as Alena, and he apparently is now at some school for blind and visually impaired children, although we aren’t sure what that really means.
All that to say this. Whenever we mention these kids to people, it’s of course the whole “Someone should do something” deal. Yet, when people look at adoption, they don’t give any thought to the kids with disabilities, or the older kids; “someone” is, apparently, “someone else”. Nope, not my family, not in my house, but someone really should do something.
So, who is someone, and what is something?
Sure, we’d love to find a home for Andre in particular, and in Buddy’s ideal world, all kids, no matter how old and with what disabilities, would have loving homes and families. I get that we don’t live in Buddy’s ideal world. Some people really can’t adopt these kids, because they’ve raised families already, or don’t have room for kids, or they’ve got a whole passle of kids already (or have all they can handle, anyway). Some people don’t think they can handle kids, or won’t have the patience or wherewithal or time or skill or resources to handle any sort of disability. Some people don’t want to take on the emotional baggage or damage that comes with an older kid. Yeah, I’ve heard horror stories, too, and I’m not saying that these aren’t real issues, because they are.
So if you can’t adopt, what can you do to make a difference? What thing can you, being someone, do?
Check places like His Kids, Too and other charitable organizations. His Kids has several aid programs that they administer, not just for kids in orphanages, but feeding the elderly, Bible camp in the summer, and so on. The director travels several times a year to distribute medical supplies, clothing, food, and other necessities. Anyway, check them out. There are no doubt other such organizations, but teresa and her crew are the ones who helped us through our adoption.
So, will you be someone who does something? Could be about this, could be about some other thing. But next time you say, “Someone should do something”, why not give some thought to how you can be someone?