The first and most important answer to both questions is; God has set us on this path. Josh and I both feel confident that we have heard God's calling here, and after much prayer, discussion, research and more prayer, we decided to answer that call. It may sound trite, but that's honestly how we feel. Where God is leading, we want to follow!
The second most important answer to both questions is this; He is our son. And our son wasn't born in the United States, and our son just happened to be born with special needs. Period. If he was in the foster care system, we would pursue him there. If he was born in Asia, we would pursue him there. But he currently lives in Eastern Europe and therefor that is where we are going. And as far as his special needs are concerned we feel comfortable with them, and will work hard to help him in any way we can, just as we would with our biological kids. If someone gives birth to a child with special needs, do we take them aside and say, "Now wait a minute, what makes you feel qualified to care for that child? Do you have any experience?" No. Instead we pray for them, offer support, and just be a friend to them!
But here is another reason. First, my disclaimer. Foster care and domestic adoption is super important and is definitely needed. I respect anyone who is a foster parent or who has adopted domestically. EVERY child deserves a family. And every adoptive family is called differently. Some feel pulled to Haiti, some to China, some to Latvia, and some to the good old US of A. If God called us all in the same way, not only would this world be a really boring and uninteresting place, but there would also be a lot of unmet needs out there. All that being said, I have no problem with people wanting to adopt locally or become foster parents, and I hope more do so! It's definitely needed. But God has opened our eyes to the plight of the orphan internationally. Our eyes cannot be shut. Orphaned children in Easter Europe (EE for short) and other countries face a very different reality than those in the United States do.
In the US, children who are given up for adoption, or whose parents are unable to successfully parent them, are placed with foster parents who are trained how to care for them, they receive medical care, counseling and have social workers checking up on them. They have food, clothes, a home and they get to participate in a family unit.
Orphaned children with special needs in EE and many other countries are taken first to what is called a baby house. When I hear the term baby house, I imagine a home filled with loving nannies, rocking babies and shaking rattles. But that image would be false. A baby house is an orphanage for children age 0-5 with rows and rows of cribs where the kids spend the majority (if not ALL) of their time. The room with the smallest babies are often termed the crying rooms. The babies cry and cry and cry until, they learn that their needs are not going to be met, they are not going to get another bottle, they are not going to be rocked or held and they give up. They do not get adequate amounts of food and it is not uncommon to hear of toddlers and even much older children being bottle fed only. Less mess and fuss for the orphanage workers who are unable (or unwilling) to take the time to teach children how to feed themselves. Very often these kids will get only ONE diaper change a day. Many orphans in EE and elsewhere do not have language. This is not usually because of their special needs, but is because they are simply not spoken to. Many orphanages do not have any toys. Others have lots of toys, but do not allow the children to play with them unless an adoptive family is coming for a visit. Mostly these babies and young children spend their days laying or pacing in their cribs.
And what happens after the baby house? Transfer. Transfer is an ugly word in the adoption community. Little ones with special needs who are not adopted by age 5 (usually age 5, sometimes as early as age 4, sometimes a little later) are sent to an ADULT mental institution. The baby houses are Disneyland compared to these dark, despair filled institutions. Here, they get even less attention, less food, are often drugged constantly to keep them quiet and docile, their heads are shaved (both boys and girls), and they are often beaten and abused. A very sad yet real statistic is that about 85% of children transferred out of the baby house will die within the first year. In the baby house there is at least a glimmer of hope that they might be chosen, a family might come for them. In the adult mental institutions, all hope is lost. Take a look at these faces. The before pictures are when they still resided in the baby houses. After photos are after transfer.
Sweet little Sonny lost his beautiful hair and the twinkle in his eye.
Kolya breaks my heart. Look how his charming smile has become a hardened frown.
Poor little Donovan is wasting away...
Darling Holden has clearly been mistreated...
And precious Ksenia...there are no words.
And here is the memorial page on Reece's Rainbow. Many of these children had families coming for them.
These are real children. And their reality is unfathomable. We cannot stomach the thought of our boy ever having to set foot in an institution. So we are working hard to raise the ransom needed. This is why we are going. For God. For our son. And for love. Please consider helping us bring our little one home...
Next post I will show a very different kind of before and after photo. Stay Tuned. And just a reminder that all contributions will added to our Guardian Angel wall. I will soon be posting a picture of what we have so far.