This has been a hard Christmas season. Some good things, some joy, but also a lot of hard.
I am missing people. I am missing people who have passed away or who live too far away to celebrate with us. I am missing children who aren't yet here. I am missing connections with people that I thought would be supportive, but do not understand why we have chosen this path. I am also rejoicing that we have received support from unexpected places, even strangers.
I feel like I am failing to convey the urgency we feel for this adoption. People don't understand why we are doing this if we need to fundraise. People don't understand why we need paperwork filled out quickly and accurately. Is this a personal failing? How do I better communicate this need? How do I shout, "Look at this need!" without scaring people away? How do I share enough that people are no longer in the dark, but not so much that they are overwhelmed? How do you make people care? Can you?
This is something that falls heavily on me. If I could be more eloquent, more passionate, more concise, maybe I could inspire people to care. I could make people see what I see, feel what I feel, maybe I could make the people who care move to action. But my explanations are not brief, and my passion has not inspired others to help us. So I will take this opportunity to explain myself, and embrace the fact that these mere words will fall short of sharing the true depth I wish I could express. I hope that if you have had these thoughts and left them unspoken, you will read my words and feel the things I could not say.
Why should we help you? We didn't ask for help when we had our kids. If you can't pay for the adoption, how can you pay for their needs?
Okay, for starters, we have come up with about $25,000 in cash without fundraising. International adoption is expensive. I wish it was as simple as seeing that children need families, but most of our expense are for documents, filing fees, and travel costs to pick up the children. If we waited another year or two, we could come up with the whole amount in cash. So why not wait? We don't want to wait because children die while you wait. The children who aren't dying aren't really living either. Even in "good" places, the conditions are bad. You can have school age children the size of infants and teenagers the size of toddlers. Children are drugged so they will be more manageable. Girls have their heads shaved to prevent lice. Children lay alone in cribs all day because they have a disability, but they would be attending mainstreamed classes in school if they were here. Things go untreated. Some children lose sight or hearing; others never learn to walk or talk.
We feel a sense of urgency because it is urgent for these children. Since we began this process, a boy we were considering adopting died unexpectedly. If we wait for two more years, Theo will no longer be eligible for adoption. I do not want to be depressing, but the truth here is depressing. If you age out of the system as an orphan, your prospects in life are not good. If you age out as an orphan who is not able to walk, who has spent his life in a mental asylum because he was born with special needs? You don't exist.
Why are you adopting when you have children already? Other people want to adopt too.
If other people were willing and able to adopt these boys, they wouldn't be orphans at almost 13 and 14. The truth is that not many people are interested in adopting children with disabilities, and even fewer are interested in adopting teenagers with disabilities who have lived in institutions. People in their country will not adopt these children. If they were willing to, they would have done it already. We are not on a five year long waiting list for healthy infants. These are children waiting for families, not the other way around.
Why are you adopting when you have children already? Why aren't you thinking of them?
First, I want to reassure people that we are thinking of them. Through every step of this process we have considered how the decisions we make would affect our whole family. The idea that we are bringing new people into our home, who have had their own life experiences and been shaped by those experiences before they come into our home, can be scary. I will say that there are many children who have needs, both physical and emotional, that our family is not equipped to handle. We know that. We know that this will be hard, and that there will be sacrifice from everyone. We are okay with that. We feel that we will all be gaining from this also; that we are the ones who are lucky, blessed, by the opportunity to add these sons to our family.
Think about what your thought process would be before you make a lifetime commitment requiring $30,000. Not something to take on lightly, right? We discussed this long before we made our decision. My husband and I were talking about adoption, and having a large family, before we started dating! We have had meetings with counselors and with the social worker granting us approval, questioning our motivation and level of preparedness. We have completed almost 20 hours of coursework required by our homestudy. We have done extensive independent reading about adoption and the particular special needs we anticipate dealing with. We have talked with real, live families who have adopted real, live children from the orphanage we will be traveling to and similar institutions.
It really isn't anyone's business, but many people have asked, so we will add this. We are able to continue getting pregnant and giving birth. Adoption is ALWAYS an option to build your family. We are choosing this because we think it is the best choice for our entire family right now, not as a second choice.
Why are you adopting older children? They will be predators.
Whew, this is a tough one, but it comes up a lot. I like that it recognizes that these children may have been victims of abuse. Our children will be coming from a tough place, and the potential for previous abuse is a part of that. As for the rest of it, we recognize that people who have been victims of abuse may repeat those actions. We don't know whether or not these boys have been abused, but if they have, that is their information to share when they are ready. Not ours. We are aware of that possibility, and we are arranging things to make sure everyone in our house will be safe. If they have been abused, we will help them heal from that abuse, and be mindful of it.
If this is something you are worried about, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that statistically, relatives, friends of the family, and significant others of single parents are all highly probable risks for abuse. Beyond that, you are calling our children predators. If you have actual evidence of harm at any point, of course we would act immediately. Otherwise, consider how you would feel if we called your spouse or child a predator with no evidence for the claim. This is something we have considered, and we do not have the impression that our children have predatory behavior, based on the experiences of people who have spent time with them.
Why would you want to take care of all of them? You can't take care of all of them. You can't afford all of them. Taking care of them will ruin the lives of your other children.
These ones seem to go together. For starters, I am a stay at home mother right now. I love children. I have my own things that I love to do also, but I love caring for my children. I am an effective advocate for my children and their needs in therapy, to the extent that new providers ask if I have a professional background in their specialty. I am familiar with our local special needs network because of the needs of one of my sons. We live in a small community, and while our county has less resources than a large city, everyone knows us and is familiar with us. In addition, we have several major hospitals for needs like cerebral palsy within a reasonable drive. We have world-class speech resources within an hour's drive. There are therapy options for children and adults with CP. I have been in contact with all these resources, and many more, as we have made our decisions. Our current insurance covers our medical costs, in addition to the potential coverage of costs by the state. We have considered the possible needs of these children in terms of cost, emotion, and time, and we still feel that this is the best choice for all of the members of our family. We do not think they will ruin our lives or the lives of their siblings.
There are so many children here. Why are you going there instead of taking care of children here?
There are many children here who need families, and there is a need for foster families. Adopting domestically is great! Fostering is great! All children need families. That means that children here need families, and children in other countries need families too. The conditions for children with special needs in other countries are not good. Special needs, particularly speech delays and cerebral palsy, are very near to our hearts because one of our sons has similar needs. If he had been born in Eastern Europe, he could have ended up in those same institutions even though his needs are really quite mild. This is why we feel drawn to adopt children with special needs from the country we are traveling to. If you would like to pursue domestic adoption or foster care and don't know where to start, check out AdoptUSKids.
How do you know it isn't a scam? I know someone who was scammed by an adoption agency. How do you know that the grant foundation isn't a scam?
This is a very real problem in the world of adoption. We too know people who have lost money and had their hearts broken by unethical individuals and agencies. For multiple reasons, we are certain that these are real children. In this country, there is always the chance that a child could be adopted by someone else before you get there. It is rare for that to happen with older children with special needs. The majority of our expenses are not due until we are actually about the meet the children. I am willing to discuss this more privately.
Who will take care of them after you die?
This is a good question, although somewhat morbid. We did consider that there are many people who need to support their adult children who don't have special needs. If these boys have special needs, that means they are even more likely to live with you forever. Right? Well, not necessarily. There are a lot of options for independent living and living in a good group home setting. Our county has a training center for individuals with developmental disabilities and also helps people find jobs. Our property is set up so that we could add another house here, and we intend to do that. That would give us the option of using our current home as an apartment for them if they wanted to stay here but live separately, and we also intend to build an in-law suite into the other house. That is a little ways into the future.
For the financial aspect, we have been talking with a planner about the best way to establish insurance and trusts to provide money for long-term care without affecting benefits.
I have filled this page with words, but words fall short. Less is more. What is the answer to all of these questions? The answer is that we want these boys to be our sons.
We are home with Amos, Daisy, Lee and Violet! Meanwhile we have jumped in again for one last very special girl. If you would like to help with that, you can make a non-tax-deductible donation HERE that we can access immediately. You can also make a tax-deductible donation HERE that we can use once we receive travel dates. Or by donating HERE you can help provide her and other children at her orphanage the care and nutrition they desperately need. See all of our current fundraisers HERE. We are thankful for any support you can offer!