I’m sure you can begin to see a new trend being born on my blog. I’ve been doing a little research to find out about different types of adoption, and also about adoption laws and requirements. If little Masha is to find a good family here in the U.S., I need to read up on the subject as thoroughly as possible to help give her a fighting chance!
Now I realize that children with special needs face many unique challenges when they are awaiting adoption. The facilities of orphanages, foster homes, and other housing provided are one issue. Depending on the country they are currently living in, awaiting adoption, yet another challenge might be overcoming stereotypes and the stigma that may often be associated with a “disability” (I always use quotes, old habits die hard!) in other countries.
To tell the truth, there is even a stigma associated with physical or mental challenges here in the U.S. I’ve been a victim of that many times. So, imagine living in a country with less resources, underdeveloped medical technologies, and limited supplemental income for people with disabilities. In the U.S., there are people who might manage to live comfortably, just with their social security or SSI. That’s not a luxury to be enjoyed in other places. In most countries, someone like me should be grateful for making it through the first year of life.
So, in case I’ve got your heads spinning, here are the points I’ve covered:
1) Orphaned or abandoned children in other countries (even “developed” countries) who have a physical challenge often don’t live in fully-accessible, medically-equipped housing.
2) There still exists a negative stigma in many countries about children who have a “disability,” and many are overlooked for adoption.
3) Children with physical challenges awaiting adoption seldom go out into the “real world.” Often they are kept inside and have very limited opportunities to engage in social contact with people other than their caretakers or other children in their orphanage.
No, none of this information is cited from an actual article or particular Web site. But a lot of it is gleaned from my recent communications with Elizabeth (“Lisa”), my new “ally” in helping Masha. She claims that several volunteers told her of their visit to such an orphanage with children with disabilities, and that these volunteers accompanied the children on an outing. According to them, she told me, there were five-year-olds in the group who were going out for the very first time.
That is a tragedy in itself, never mind medical care and personal attention.
Perhaps the reason why I am becoming so passionate about this, and why I am badgering the subject to death, is because I feel so ashamed that this is the first I’d heard of the conditions of orphans with disabilities in other countries. But, maybe I’m not alone. Maybe you were shocked, as well. That’s why we have to address it, and soon. I’d like to write to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (remember the late founder of Wendy’s restaurants?) and ask them, along with the ambassador of Russia to the U.S., to support us in helping save Masha from her uncertain fate.
According to the foundation’s Web site, their vision is that “every child will have a permanent home and a loving family.” We are shamefully far away from that goal, but I think that, with a little effort and a lot of compassion, we can help make a huge difference for many children.
In a 2005 study surveying the need for special school services by children adopted from Eastern Europe in the U.S., 435 children were assessed for different physical conditions, developmental delays, and psychiatric disorders. Of the children surveyed, 140 were found to have neurological impairments (47.8% of survey sample).
In fact, Dr. Dana Johnson, from the University of Minnesota, said, “Although it is not necessary that a child have medical or developmental disabilities to be eligible for international adoption from Russia, adopting parents should consider all children adopted internationally to be special needs. Adopting parents should expect developmental delays.”
So, that’s something to consider when thinking about adoption. One can’t choose their biological children (to the best of my knowledge!), but one can afford to be precise in their specifications about adopting a child. It kind of makes the entire system unfair for children like Masha, who must continue to wait.
Let’s make it worth the wait for her!
Remember to pray for and support our friends in Haiti by visiting www.cnn.com/impact.
I want to give a special shout-out tonight to Andrea and her daughter, Rowan. I’m praying for little Rowie’s health! I love you guys. 🙂