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!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Living and Dying: The Why Behind The Bedridden Project

This is the Bedridden Project. I'm talking about how life was for our son Evan before he was adopted, how amazing his life is now here in our family, and other children in laying down rooms who are waiting to be adopted. If you would like to help us fund our current adoption, including two children who used to be in cribs next to Evan, there is an amazing fundraiser going on right now HERE. Please go check it out. And please share this post and the waiting children who so desperately need to escape these cribs.


"They stayed alive when they could and they died when they couldn’t."

These words are not my own. These are the words of Anne McDonald, a survivor who was able to escape a large institution for severely disabled children. She was able to prove that she was of average intelligence but unable to speak due to athetoid cerebral palsy. More of her story is at the following link. Please read it. 

Anne spent years in the same type of life that the children I feature here are living in right now. There are so many different directions I could take this post from there.

Yes, some of the children in these bedridden wards are of typical intelligence, but unable to communicate. Bedridden wards don't offer alternative outlets for communication for children who are unable to speak. In addition, the level of neglect is such that children often aren't even exposed to language. You are not born understanding a language. You learn it through exposure. How will a child learn a language if adults are only present a few minutes a day, never speaking to the child? A few places are lucky enough to have a tv or radio turned on for the children to listen to, but most are just empty rooms. This is a level of neglect so extreme that case studies are written on it. 

But I'm here to talk about living and dying. Some of these children are living and some of them are dying. More than six months ago I posted about the children who we spent time with while we were adopting Evan. They were transferred. They are not doing well. The new orphanage is not open to the type of charity help the children were receiving before. I am praying for a change.

This girl was in the video above, sleeping under the mural. When she was awake she never stopped moving. She would stim loudly, rocking all the way up and down against her mattress. She would sit tall and shake a rattle to listen to the sound. She was the chubbiest of all of the children in the room, the healthiest looking. She can't be adopted. Her family visited her before she was transferred and retained parental rights. She is also too old to be adopted. Since she has been transferred she has declined greatly. She is just a skeleton now, laying on her bed and gasping.

There are people who have documented these kinds of bedridden wards more thoroughly and more eloquently than I have. They exist in many different countries, all slightly different but mostly similar. Mostly places for children with "severe" disabilities to die slowly or die quickly. And so much of that severe disability is brought on by living in these places to begin with. A child with Down syndrome would never be assumed to be a bedridden child in America. Children with cerebral palsy don't need to be confined to a crib.

It isn't pleasant reading, but there is plenty of information out there about how badly children and adults with disabilities are treated. This exists right now.

It is here and it is here.  It is here as well. And here. It is here. Here. Here too.

I don't have the strongest words or a large audience to call to action. But I have the children I have seen and spent time with in my heart. I have my memories. I can smell the sulphur and rot and disinfectant that hit you as you walked in the door. I can see the bright yellow ant poison that was spread under the crib mattresses to keep the insects away from the spilled formula and immobilized children. The green ointment applied to scrapes and bedsores and raw, chewed hands. I remember the children's smiles and their cries. The workers bustling around for a few minutes changing and feeding and gone again. That is the world these children are living in.

But some of them are dying. They are being fed less. The same eager eater who was given the rest of Evan's bottle of food or formula when he refused to eat at the old orphanage? She was only drinking broth when her family came for her. They are being medicated. Children are so sedated that they rarely wake to eat. They are fading. There is no charity allowed here right now. No charity workers bringing kids to a playroom. No charity workers trying to coax children to stand or play with toys. No stretching and loosening tight muscles with therapy. No requests for extra formula to keep the children from starving. Some of them were in such bad condition before the charity began working in the old orphanage that their ability to digest food was damaged. They need special formula. They're returning to the same condition that the charity worked so hard to save them from.

My Lee is there right now. Look at his soft round face growing thinner. I'm sure they wouldn't have talked to him when they took his photo for his profile, but I hope he heard them talking among themselves. I hope he heard them saying it was so that a family would come for him, even if they were scoffing at the notion. I want him to have heard that to give him the hope to hang on until we get there.

These children there with him aren't the only ones. There are so many others out there living and dying in the same way. I want them to have families too. But I have seen these children. I have spent time with them. I have wiped their faces and spoken to them and promised to try to help them. I feel I am failing. I have been seeking a family for Denzel for so long. Now he will age out in less than six months, and he is still waiting. Will it be a race to see whether he ages out before or after he starves to death? Younger children continue to wait without families and are transferred into the same conditions.

The children in the bedridden area right now include the following kids. Each and every one of them urgently needs to be adopted:
Tiny V, an unlisted but adoptable boy with cerebral palsy, born in 2003

There are other children at this orphanage also. The other girls are in much better conditions. A family adopting one of those girls could easily save the life of a child in the bedridden wing by adopting them both at the same time.
The other girls at this orphanage are:

There are so many bedridden children listed right now and so few families stepping up to adopt them. These kids are amazing. Their special needs may seem more intense, but adopting a child from a bedridden room is a very different type of adoption. In a lot of ways I've found Evan's adoption to be much easier than an adoption of a neurotypical child his age. The birth order concerns some agencies and social workers express don't apply to Evan at all.

You don't need to dive into multiple therapies immediately upon arriving home. Focus on necessary medical issues, yes. But what Evan needed most was time to experience a family and be a kid and get good nutrition and be loved. All of those things have been life-changing for him. He has been life-changing for us. There are so many kids waiting for that. Some of them are dying while they wait. That should not happen, but we can change that. We can change it for each of these children that we adopt. We can show more people how awesome this kind of adoption is. We can show people in the countries our children came from how much more these kids are capable with if they are treated properly. We can change this, if we step up and give these children a chance to live.

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