Wednesday, December 16, 2009

God Help Us!

I have added a video to the blog; have you watched it yet? NBC did a short documentary on the conditions of mental institutions in Serbia.....where four year old orphans with Down Syndrome are sent.....just because they were born with an extra chromosome. Hope is four. Hope walks, runs, knows 50 signs, laughs, entertains, hugs, kisses, loves, uses crayons, & feeds herself. If Hope had been placed into an orphanage in Serbia, Russia, Asia, or the Ukraine, she would've already been sent into a mental institution like the one in the film clip to spend the remainder of her life.....because she is four and has Down Syndrome......just like the video depicts.....she would be drugged and tied to a crib all day every day. Tortured. Neglected. Left to die a miserable death and never understanding why. Rage boils up inside me just thinking about it.

We had our first homestudy appointment today, and I have to tell you, I left in tears. I have cried most of the day. The person who is doing our homestudy told us in the last four years, she has personally witnessed FIVE adoptions disrupt. In each of the cases, the child was either an older child or a special needs child. In other words, parents went to another country to adopt an orphan.....brought the child to the USA and made him/her part of their family.....and then changed their minds and "undid" the adoption. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine being unwanted and given away one time.....much less two times.

I believe our society is upside down. Scripture clearly states: "Faith without deeds is dead" AND "By their fruits you will know them". Quite the opposite, many believers live their lives always expecting something in return: gratification, entertainment, or leisure. Come to think of it, from the time we start working, we are told about how great retirement is going to be: "Work hard and retire early"......."Live the good life". THAT kind of thinking is not Biblical. We are brainwashed by the media to believe we deserve an easy life, and the truth is, we don't. We should be afraid of easy, because "easy life" does not equal "God life".

We adopted Natalie from Russia eight years ago when she was three, and most of you are aware she has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Being institutionalized and neglected for the first three years of her life plus the FAS has impacted her greatly through the years. Natalie is a child who strives to be "normal", but is very aware of her "not-normal-ness". Raising her has required alot of patience and work. Chappy and I didn't adopt Natalie for what we would receive from her; however, we adopted her for what we could GIVE to, a home, a family. If we had adopted her for what we would get out of it, we would've sent her back to Russia after a few months, because she was very needy for a long time. The point being, we knew going into the adoption that Natalie was going to need us to GIVE all of ourselves to her. All the work is worth it. Eight years into her eleven year old life, we have a daughter who loves the Lord and is seeking to live her life in a way that honors Him. She still struggles some....but, don't we all? Natalie knows the Lord; if she had stayed in a Russian orphanage, statistics would not be on her side. Hallelu-Yah! Natalie's life has been radically saved!!!

If you are considering adoption, resolve this moment to NEVER disrupt your matter what. When you adopt, you are terribly naive if you expect things are going to be perfect, especially if you adopt a child who has been institutionalized in an orphanage. For the first few years, it may not even be good. Orphan children are neglected and often abused; they are damaged goods. Before adopting, do your homework. I think it is wise to consider keeping your birthorder in other words, don't bring an older child into your home and take away the current birthorder that is already in place unless you are prepared for what that might entail. In addition, find out as much information as you can about the child you plan to adopt ----medical status, emotional status, etc., so you can be as prepared as possible. Then, talk to other adoptive parents and ask lots of questions; develop a support team to walk your adoption with. As adoptive parents, vow to go against the flow of society and choose to GIVE instead of receive without expectations......choose to do the hard work required to heal the wounds through love and understanding.....don't ever give up on your child. I can guarantee God will never tell you NOT to adopt an orphan. Likewise, He will never tell you to un-adopt your child. I am speaking as one who has walked the path, so I know it isn't always easy. But again, believers aren't called to "easy".

If you stop to think about it, we are on this earth for a very short period of time. If we believe the Bible is true, and we agree we will stand before God someday to give an account for the way we lived our lives, then we will GIVE our lives away. We will care for orphans and widows, feed the hungry, and clothe the poor. The problem is, most people don't believe. As a result, they live their lives like this is all there is.....collecting stuff and seeking constant entertainment.....each decision based on "what's in it for me?" This life is not all there is. God's Kingdom is coming. The King is coming! And we have to prepare and be ready.

If you can watch the video above and not be moved to action, then something is seriously wrong. Scripture says "Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we do not see.....God knows that we know, and He holds us responsible to act." Those children are God's kids.....they are our brothers and sisters. They never asked to be born with an extra chromosome or with a handicapped body, and they can't help their circumstance. They need to be rescued and saved.

As for me, I want to be acutely aware of what God feels when He sees these children being tortured because of their disabilities.....I want to be sensitive to His broken heart over how we have totally messed up His plan. His plan was for us to care for "the least of these", not lock them up, tie them to a bed and forget about them. Have you ever thought, by turning our heads, we are condoning the atrocity? It is just as if we locked them up and tied them to the bed rails ourselves.

My prayer is for everyone who would say they are living a comfortable life today to feel convicted in a way that turns stomachs into knots and eyes to tears. If we are comfortable, we are not living like Jesus. If the Spirit of God is living in us, how can we be satisfied with status quo when we have seen evidence that children are being tortured just because they were born with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy? There is much work to be done while we are here. This isn't the time to sit back and seek a life of luxury....we have Kingdom Work to do. We need to get our hands dirty and our hearts pricked with the sorrow of the Father.

Here are some questions you may be asking yourself:

What is it like to raise a child with Down Syndrome? It is not as easy as raising a child who doesn't have Down is different.

Do people stare at me and my two children who have Down Syndrome? ALL OF THE TIME.

Does that make me uncomfortable? ALL OF THE TIME.

Does God gift some people with a special ability to raise special needs children? NO! I have no special ability other than I want to serve my Lord and Savior with every fiber that is in me. When I serve Hope and Charlie, I am serving Him.

Do I think most people look down their noses at individuals who have special needs and think they are somehow "too good" to invite a special needs child into their family? YES! Every single time someone says to me how wonderful I am for adopting a child with Down Syndrome, what they are really saying is: "Better you than me." AND when someone says: "I could never do that"....what they are really saying is: "I don't want to do that."

Will God call you to lead a Bible Study while He calls others to adopt orphans? No. As long as there are orphans in the world, we are ALL called, because these children deserve to have a family and a chance at life; they need to know God loves them. If every Christian family in the United States adopted only one orphan, we wouldn't have an orphan crisis around the world, and many Christian families have room for one more child in their homes. I firmly believe EVERY believer is called to care for orphans unless you are aged out of the system, are financially limited or have a physical condition that prohibits you from adopting.....and in those cases, you can still help raise money to assist others in adoption.

Some of my words may be tough to digest, but I am sickened by the prejudice against the orphans.....especially the orphans with Special Needs. For goodness sake, they are children. They are children. They are children. They are children. We cannot turn our heads and pretend it is not our problem.

God, help us! There is much work to be done.

(Since we have several children who read the blog, I deleted a few of the comments that were left following this post. I appreciate all of the input, but want to make sure the content is always appropriate for our young readers....including my own! ha! ha!)


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  3. I'm blown away by that video. I'm sitting in my very comfy King size bed with my three year old cuddled up beside me and my three other children sleeping peacefully in their beds and I am beside my self. Feeling guilty and hopeless to help. Guilty because I know I have the ability to help and hopeless because I don't know how.

    Can I ship them my bed, I don't mind sleeping on the floor.

    My nephew has Cerebral Palsy and I know what it takes to care for him. It's not easy. My sister spends thousand of hours and money trying to give him the best possible life. I can't imagine his precious soul in such a place.

    Those children need all of us. Gods children should never have to live such a life.

    I'm disgusetd by such a place that would do that to there children.

    Thank you for sharing. I'd like to pass your post on if you don't mind


  4. I really needed this post today. I have adopted six kids with FAE. My 15 year old is giving us a run for our money right now and your post reminds me to keep my thinking and actions about helping him and not about what it is doing to me. It is really hard work and I get angry which makes things so much worse.
    I have to say that I don't like blanket statements about what does and doesn't work. I have seen very successful adoptions out of birth order. I do think it has to be approched carefully and thoughtfully but not ruled out in all cases.
    Thanks again, Kath

  5. I could not have said it better myself. This post was challenging and encouraging for us ALL to do more. We rescued Marcus AND Macey earlier this year from Ukraine. We couldn't be more blessed to have been chosen by God to be thier Forever Family. I am looking forward to following your amazing journey. Thanks for keeping it real!

  6. Melanie,

    As the parent of a special needs child, adopted from Russia, and two other adopted children, and a bio mom, AND a former adoption counselor in International adoption, I can say that you're post is right on. Yes, there is the RARE occasion when a child will come to a family so traumatized that they traumatize others. However, this information should have been known to the family in advance, and if it was, then they never should have adopted these boys and put their daughter at risk. They should have adopted a child who could safely be brought into their home. I'm not questioning the heart with which this family accepted these children, clearly they wanted to offer them a life. These boys DO!!!!! deserve a family. They are humans and their lives are worth everything! They are not statistics, pictures on a web-site, or victims in a video. They are YOUR children. They are MY children. They are GODS children! And He expects us to do something for children like these boys.... talk about loving the least of these. What have we done if we love those that everyone loves? We've only accomplished God's work if we love the ones no one else loves. And I'd say these boys fit that criteria. In that rare occasion that this happens and another child is endangered by an adopted child, then there really are no choices. This is a prime example how some agencies are failing their families. They are failing to educate the families about the difficulties. They are failing to insist on more information on the children. They are failing to give them appropriate post-placement resources after the adoption. They are failing to see that not just any home is always "better." And is "better" a good enough standard anyway? I don't want my children to live by a standard of "what's better", I want them to expect a standard of "what's BEST!"

    I could go on and on. But I will tell you I had two clients disrupt during my 7 years as an adoption case worker. It devastated me! It eventually drove me out of the field for a time just because I had to process my own grief over what these children went through because I somehow missed the lack of commitment on the part of these families. These kids were not extreme. They were not a danger. They just required someone to value them and think they were worth the extra effort it would have taken to heal their broken and scared hearts. I could go on and on about this. All I can tell you is that I am SOOOOO thankful our Savior and Father does not have the option of "disrupting" our adoptions! Can you imagine God saying to us, "I'm so sorry honey, but you have wounded your sister, perhaps beyond repair. You have not measured up to my hopes for you. You haven't been able to love me the way I thought you would. You aren't thankful enough for the price paid on the cross. You're going to just have to find some other god and hope for the best! Sorry it didn't work out." Thank you Lord, praise Jesus, that He never says that and His mercy is new every day!

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  8. I just happened to come across the Reece's Rainbow website earlier this week and saw the story of your family/daughter raising the money to adopt your next child. It is amazing to me! Way to go!

    My husband and I are in the early process of doing foster adoption in our state. BUT after looking at the Reece's Rainbow site I am wondering if God wants our family to go another direction and persue international adoption. Looking at the website I saw a child named Chole in the "other angels" section. She has not left my mind since seeing her picture. Not having the $25,000 to make the adoption a reality I'm scared to contact them and find out more information about her. I would love to add her to our family...When I saw her picture earlier this week I prayed that if this is the the path that God wants us to take that he would show me what to do and provide for the adoption. I'm still not sure.

    I just wanted to say that is was a pleasure to find your blog and I will be following along with you on your journey as long as you wish to share it. God bless and good luck!


  9. Once again a beautiful, thought provoking post. I have just recently heard of a disruption that has really upset me of a little 14 yr. old girl who has been in the family about 6 yrs.!! Can you imagine. No scandals, she just "didn't click" with the mom. REALLY??!! This week I've also heard of some really good people already doubting what they have done just 3 weeks home!! Please do your research people but I agree. Nothing God asks us to do is easy. Despite what this world says, it is NOT about us and our "comfort" and what we get out of a relationship. This is about others, and precious children. Thank you for that reminder.

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  11. You know something, I have been called since my teen years to adopt a special needs (specifically a child with Down Syndrome). And I look at the Reece's Rainbow site daily and ache to bring one of those babies home. I believe somehow God wants me to. But the countries they live in won't let me, because I have a wife instead of a husband. And it pains me because people would rather these children die than have two moms.

    I'm at a loss. But I will not stop praying for these kids. God bless you for all you have done.

  12. I quoted you in a recent post you inspired me to write. I hope you don't mind :-)