Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why we like the institution director:

Though we were hurt by the decision he made not to allow us to adopt, we have never spoken ill of the institution director.  There’s a good reason for that.  He’s really not a bad guy.

Yes, he turned down our adoption of Aleksa 2 1/2 years ago.

Yes, he had a very strong personality and was pretty intimidating.

Yet, in the great scheme of things, we still left the institution knowing that Aleksa was dressed, fed, and being generally cared for ok. 

Any institution is just that- an institution.  A place where there is no family, no support of brothers and sisters, and no dedicated person who love you unconditionally and will teach you both in educational ways and in social graces. 

In many if not most institutions for older childdren, there is very little structured learning time.  There are generally rooms lined with benches where the residents sit.  A majority of the day.  There is a room for eating where, however they are capable, they eat.  There are rooms for toileting and if you are able to toilet and are mobile, then that is what is done.  Bathing in general is not a very regular occurrence.

The residents never leave the facility for walks or to visit a park, to go to the zoo or the ocean.  They don’t attend school with other children or learn how to eat nicely, to walk in a group or line, to respond to general social graces of the world (hello, handshake, goodbye, or even not to rip your glasses off your face or not to spit right in your face when you bend down to them), and it’s not just that they haven’t done these things, but that they have no idea that they are missing this link to the rest of society.

Here’s the kicker…  We, Michael and I, know very well that any child will do better in a family than in an institution.  That there are many more opportunities for them in a family to be able to learn, to be able to grow, and to be able to develop in society and take part in a more fulfilling life with opportunities that FAR reach the walls of one facility.  If we’d never seen that happen… how would we feel?

What if all we’d seen of disabled persons overseas were news stories of the children being ridiculed at school?  Or the standpoint of the abortionists that says they don’t even deserve to live?  What if the viewpoint we saw was of homeless people with intellectual disabilities standing on street corners asking for money?  Or if our viewpoint was based on reports of abuse in both families and schools of disabled children?  What if our reports all came from the Child Protective Services about the number of adults and teens with developmental delays that have been abused in their alternate housing?  What if that was what we used to build our viewpoint of how disabled persons in America are treated??

We understand the director’s hesitancy to allow us to adopt Aleksa when we went there in 2008.  We see that he has a viewpoint of Americans and disabled persons and adoption which isn’t going to change based on meeting one family one time.  We knew that there would be no way for us to get him to put his neck on the line for us because he had no reason to believe that we would treat Aleksa any better than the person that sent their Eastern European-born son back to his birth country on an airplane. 

That is where the story changes for this visit.  Now we have three things.  One, is that we have completed an international adoption of two disabled children.  They have gone from the video I posted last week into the healthy, active, HAPPY, and growing children that they are today.  Second is that our missionary friend has prepared the way for us.  She has given a bit of our story to him, and has shared with him that we’re coming.  He now has time to prepare for us.  The third is that the general climate toward accepting people with disabilities into a family has begun to change in Ukraine.  We are seeing more and more people come and speak out and say “I want to take my baby home.” There are photographs of children with Down syndrome and advertisements about “I can” during Down syndrome awareness month in the Metro stations.  There are support groups much like the ones that Shelley and I visited.  The climate has begun to change there… maybe the director will recognize the potential that is already in effect here.

What we need now, is a whole lot of prayer.  Prayer for the director’s heart, his attitude toward us and our coming, and the potential release of Aleksa to be adopted.  Of course we want God’s will and that is what we have been seeking from day 1 with this experience!  Though I cannot imagine that God’s will is for an orphaned little girl to remain an orphan again, I also couldn’t have imagined that it was God’s will the last time we visited her—yet we knew after meeting Emma and Micah, that His Will was for us to bring them home and nurse them back to health.

Please pray with us for this director’s heart and attitude.  He really isn’t a bad guy.  He just has a picture of international adoption and of family with disabled children that isn’t a real account of what it means to have disabled children in the US.


  1. Will be praying without ceasing til you get that precious child home.

  2. Well stated and you are exactly right. These people are not monsters who we should look down our noses at. These are people who do a job and in my opinion keep a bit of emotional distance from the children to remain sane.

    And every one of these children would do better in a home than one of these institutions. Our son lived in one of these buildings with benches, feeding room, therapy room (which was used for storage and a get away for the caregiver), a toilet room (with little pots toilet in sight) and a wooden pallet area where they were bathed (sprayed down).

    This place has left it indelible mark on my wife and I when we can help it, a child won't have to go there. Ever.

    Thanks for this heartfelt, thought-provoking post.

  3. You know when we adopted Steven, the deputy director was absolutely convinced that we only wanted him to sell his body parts. She made the adoption extremely difficult for us. But if you look at it from HER point of view, she was desperately trying to spare his life. From HER perspective she was doing the humane thing.