Jan 31, 2012

Kori's Story

Reposted from Micah Six Eight:

This is Kori's story...
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The doors open. We are treated to tea and cookies and treats in the director’s office. Afterwards they walk us to meet the person we had been waiting so long to see. Doors swing open left and right. Joshua, barely able to keep from vomiting. Something about the unusual smells and triggers he is unprepared to face. People of all ages and levels of disability stand. And watch. And one after the other speaks the word: “Amerikanskis”.

The word multiplies and follows us like the roar of a huge wave. No one believes that these Americans have come to their mental institution. Could it be true? Are they coming to adopt a child from HERE??
Plastic slippers. Flickering TV screens. Oriental rugs. Old drafty windows. People with Down Syndrome. Cerebral Palsy. Cleft Palate. Deformities. Mental illness. Hidden from society, where only the perfect are welcome. Discarded. Unwanted. Alone. Day after day here, never leaving this building.
She sits in a ball pit with colorful toys surrounding her. The six month old baby with the sweet little hat that makes her look like a little old lady. Her eyes crossing. Cute. Now where is Masha?
But wait. This is an Eastern European mental institution. They only take ages 4 and up. A second look. There is no freaking way.
There is no way in heaven or hell that this can be…..she is almost eight……
I drop to my knees, grab the tiniest baby hands and stare into the eyes of the eight year old trapped in a body no larger than that of a small six month old infant. What in the name of God….
“Masha. It is Mama. Mama is here”.

I manage to say these words while the room suddenly fills with caregivers. People in white coats. Women weeping. So many crying women. I ask permission to lift her out of the ball pit and she immediately rests her weary head against my shoulder as if to say : "You have finally come. I assume this is what kids like me do with ladies like you.”
I tell her : "Hi beautiful princess” and a caregiver behind me bursts into tears. “Princessa Masha!” she exclaims, now crying so hard that I am worried for her for a moment.

We are asked if we will accept the referral of this child. We accept.

And as we spend a month daily visiting her in the only home that has cared for this beautiful small girl after she aged out of the baby orphanage, we learn about the reality of the imperfect people in this country. Beautiful people. Tucked away as far from society as possible. Out of sight. Out of mind.
We walked among angels. The souls that live out their lives under these conditions have left their indelible mark on mine. Their faces. I see their eyes. I still see their eyes.


I saw the children in their "bedridden" room in their beds alone, begging for some attention and love. The small guy with his hands tied in a cloth. I saw the old building that needs so much work. I saw the older children with CP scooting on all fours down the hall, too old for adoption and no hope of a life outside of that institution.

I sat on those couches with some of the teenage girls who brushed my hair...and held my hands...and got hugs and kisses... I called them Princess V., and Princess I. (and all the other beautiful names of all those sweet kids) I went on this adoption trip with some rings and necklaces, and the girls wore them proudly. They learned some English....but I hope that most of all they learned what love is. My heart broke leaving them.. Every day when I got Kori from her room, I blew kisses at the children there and I said my "pryvet" to each and every one of them there. The smiles were priceless.

When we got to the institution after court, the director's assistant ( who was in court with us to represent the institution) was very happy and told the director that we had passed court.

We went upstairs and they brought Kori to us. While playing, we noticed that a number of children were being walked down the hall in nice outfits. Maybe it was a holiday?

One by one the children were being photographed. We stood, we watched. We were amazed. Kori's adoption had made them realize that people DO want these kids and permission was granted to list them. Every single one that was legally available. They were being photographed for their adoption listing. I wish I could have gotten video of this. The excitement. The joy. It was contagious. As the pictures were being snapped, we stood there and clapped and yelled: "Horosho!" (good) along with the caregivers. Random caregivers stopped by and showed us their little ones and asked us to bring them home too. Doors were being opened and the joy on the faces of the caregivers was wonderful beyond words.

Within 24 hours of Kori leaving the mental institute she had a seizure. It is common for European mental institutes to sedate some of the residents, and although no one could say for sure, it was suspected that Kori's seizure was related to sudden withdrawal of sedative medication. After a day or two without the drugs, while still in country, her tiny nearly eight year old body could not handle the sudden change and she began to seize. An ambulance was called. The EMT's called hospital after hospital, trying to find one that would agree to take Kori and treat her.

They were turned down at four hospitals. She was not wanted. Finally, after negotiations, the last hospital relented and decided to admit Kori.

Sometimes adoption breaks a Mama's heart so badly that the words cannot come for a very long time. Sometimes what is seen and experienced is so gut-wrenching that it takes time and distance to begin to heal the pain. Sometimes.


Time stood still. Seconds seemed like minutes, minutes seemed like hours. We had adopted her and had only had her in our custody for about 24 hours. Her little body shook violently in my arms. She gasped for air over and over. Her eyes rolled back in her head. Our daughter was having a massive seizure. I feared that this was it. That she was going to die before she would ever meet her brothers. She would quite possibly never experience more than just a 12 hour train ride, cradled in the arms of her daddy.

It would be twenty minutes before the ambulance would get there.When the ambulance finally arrived the seizure was over. Kori was lethargic and weak. The EMT ladies placed her on the bed and undressed her. Apparently her temperature was extremely low. They gave her several injections and then the yelling began. One of the women argued loudly with our facilitator. I could tell it was about Kori’s condition. I am sure this was a shock to them.


A seven year old child with Down Syndrome who weighed 16 pounds and looked exactly like a 7 month old infant. Her eyes infected. Her teeth so rotten that the smell was noticeable even from a distance. Her legs limp and stick like.

I experienced first hand the disgusted look the EMS people gave my little girl. The way they left her barely clothed on the bed. The way they spoke the words: "Down Syndrome'', spitting them out with anger and repeating over and over. We were unfit parents and she should have remained in her institution. Five hospitals refused her medical care. My facilitator held her hand out for 200 hrivna bills more times than I can count at the hospital that finally admitted her. That money was paid to the doctor, to the nurses, as "incentive money". One nurse was especially horrible to Kori and caused her pain on purpose. My facilitator met her in the hallway and handed her a 200 hrivna bill in exchange for humane treatment for my daughter.


I used to say I could never go back. After she had a seizure in the city, and we witnessed first hand exactly how poorly people with Down Syndrome are treated, I thought I could never ever set foot in that country again.

On days like today though, all I want is to go back. To sit on that couch in the hallway. I long to hold the children I came to love while I was there. I want to tell them they matter. Oh, how they matter. I want to simply walk the halls and make eye contact with the forgotten. I see you. And you. And you. And you. Who will see? How can I make people SEE?? See these amazing spirits, these survivors, these quietly fading people
?

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Heartbroken. Utterly devastated. Ashamed of my own heritage. To have to bribe a woman to treat a child humanely - how can that be, that people can be so cruel to someone so small, so defenseless.

I don't know how to make them see either. I pray God reveals His plan, what's my part in this? For now I can only weep in desperation with dozens of parents who found their precious children across the sea in ..basically a concentration camp.

I want to get angry, but anger breeds more anger. So instead Ill just weep and pray.

Jan 30, 2012

Call for prayer: Boy needs a home

Dear friends, please take time out to pray for Brandon.

From his RR page:
Brandon is a sweet little boy who was born with CP. He is said to have "severe mental delays" and his speech is also very delayed, but he is at least able to get around on his own and is not bedridden. The change in him, to be in the loving environment of his own family, would be remarkable, surely!
He also has crossed eyes and astigmatism.
Brandon is blessed to still be at the baby house. He is facing the institution.

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Please forward this to your friends and orphan advocates. He needs a home badly, much like many other children, currently living in baby houses and institutions in Eastern Europe. Please consider donating to their fund, but most of all, please consider giving him a home.

Jan 28, 2012

Really trying time

I don't' really get it,
i was so excited about coming to C4c this year, especially after getting over some reason tough stuff that I dealt with spiritually, and I'm just so not in the game this year. It doesn't help that all 3 of us have picked up some stomach bug, and been feeling weird. I'm just exhausted all the time, I've spent most of the day in bed.
I've had at least 2 breakdown/anxiety attacks, which I did not have since I started taking my new medications a few months ago.

So between feeling like I don't belong, because I think I am the only woman here that has not adopted yet (or haven't even started the process), and being an absolutely dork, when it comes to meeting people - Its been a strange weekend.

It had a lot of good moments too, and
I'm grateful that I came, don't get me wrong. The team, who put this together did and amazing job, and nothing can take away from me, especially not my own little problems.

I'm also grateful that God is patient with me in my self-pity party moments. I guess I was just expecting to be filled spiritually this weekend, instead, I felt more barren that I have in weeks. Maybe I am just truly spiritually starved, and it took a few hundred of "well-fed" Christian women to show it to me.

Oh maybe it's the stomach bug and being naturally awkward about people. I am not sure yet.

Jan 27, 2012

Created for care, day 1

IM at the retreat with my girls, we got here last night. So excited, getting ready to go for the registration. Just got back from an awesome breakfast at Cracker Barrel. So thankful for my best friends , my awesome sisters in Christ.

Have to admit though, I am a bit nervous of the crowds. But I think it's going to be a great weekend!
I am typing on an IPad (not mine) and I must admit- I am somewhat jealous. This is neat!

Jan 20, 2012

Why I hate Religion...

Something I wanted to share with you, because it is so striking right into the heart.

Jan 12, 2012

The Warrior Duchess

From Global Post:

"Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is facing up to 22 years in prison after a court in Turkey leveled charges against her for secretly filming state-run orphanages in Istanbul and Ankara."


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Please lift up this soldier in your prayers. May Heavenly justice be done, and this incident open the eyes of many, and God's work to be done through this. Would YOU go to a Turkish prison for orphans? What if you were wealthy, famous, and royalty. Would you still make the decision to fight for those who have no voice?

I pray for this being a spark that starts the fire, and captives to be set free.

5 ways to be the village (how to handle adoptive parents - the guide)

I have come across an excellent post by Jen Hatmaker (via Our House blog), that gives some excellent pointers on how we can be supportive and useful to the friends and family that are int he process or have adopted a child.

It is honest, well-intended, rooted in personal experience, and sprinkled with humor. If you know of someone who is about to adopt, has adopted, or are an adopting parent yourself - please visit the site.

I know that I have done at least a couple of "no-no's" that probably made my friends cringe. But thank God for forgiveness, right? =)

Jan 10, 2012

Memorial Box Monday : My first Car Accident



I've been driving for about 7-8 years now (I started late :P), and luckily I have never been in a car accident. Something that I actually used to pride myself about. A few months later, glancing at my driver's license, I realizes that it expired. I was shocked: I only got the license a year ago - issued by the state we moved to. How could that be?

I called the DMV, wondering if it was a mistake. No mistake - apparently due to my non-citizenship status at the time, it was issued for only a year. I had to come back to the DMV and get a new one.

I get there, and surprisingly, only within 15 minutes - I was at the window of the DMV lady. I always pray for favor when I am at that place. I have just got my citizenship a little less than a year ago at that time, so I was elated - there should be no issues.

But the lady said - I will need your passport, as your status had changed, and the INS did not update the proper records. But, she added, if you come back today, simply waive to me, and I'll take care of you.

Grateful(as this was during my work day), I drive away, to pick up the passport from home, as a pick up truck backs into me. My hands were shaking, but I thanks God that I had my updated car insurance on me. I asked the driver for the same. He was a pleasant elderly african-american man - very sweet and apologetic. The cops were called, and he admitted that it was his fault.

After appraisals, and some phone calls, his insurance sent me a check. I have not cashed the check to fix the dent - there is no damage to my car, except for the hole in the bumper and punched out grill. So I put it off. And then put off some more. Feeling too lazy to go to a dealership, leave my car, etc, etc. Its been a few months, and that sizable check is still laying on my dressers.

A couple of days ago, I realized that I have an opportunity to go to Uganda for a short-term mission trip. My mind scrambled at the opportunities to raise the money. Then it occured to me - the check that's been laying on my dresser will probably cover the cost of a plane ticket.

What a blessing! My car is fine, no one was hurt, insurance went through quickly. But that check can finance my very first mission trip to Africa.

When the other driver said: "You just never know who you will meet" and I agreed "There is a reason for everything, including fender-benders." He said "Bless you, you are very sweet." as we parted.

Blessed indeed am I.

Jan 9, 2012

News in Russia International Adoption

To read full article in Russian, please visit this site. I took the liberty of translating (Google).

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28.12.2011



Pavel Astakhov, Children Rights Commissioner of Russia, proposed a moratorium on adoptions of Russian children by foreigners. At the same time, this would be hard to do, legally and practically. Meanwhile, the statistics on the adopted children is not in favor of the United States. He sees the solution in a series of measures: both specific and systemic in nature.
Summarizing the interim results of the year, authorized the president of Children's Rights Pavel Astakhov presented data statistics and outlined the key direction for the future government and his department.

Statistics and Tendencies:

Thus, the children's ombudsman said that last year the situation with the living conditions and upbringing of children without parental care has improved markedly, but conducted audits revealed numerous violations across the country. In addition, the growing number of people wishing to adopt a child, and in some cities it is a few hundred people. However, over the past year were adopted into the family boarding only 121 children, less than 1% of the total.

" Children should be put out of orphanages and boarding schools, and arrange them in a family boarding for 7 - 10 people, no more, - said Pavel Astakhov. - Whatever good children's home, out of its walls, at best, dependents, and at worst - the criminals "

The Ombudsman has presented the North Caucasus as a positive example, where, most of the time, the institutions are of a family-type, where children of different age and sex lives as one family under the name of the older boy. According to Pavel Astakhov, each region has its own national and cultural features that work with children must be considered.

Orphan statistics:

According to statistics, the country's 682 thousand children without parental care, of which 86% - children whose parents are alive. For the year were selected almost 5.5 thousand children from disadvantaged families. The number of repeat "rejects" - children who were returned to childcare after adoption, more than 8 thousand


Who is responsible?


As a priority, in addition to the transition to family boarding, Pavel Astakhov, called also change the entire system of child rearing. In particular, it calls to unify the management of such institutions to develop uniform standards of education and training.

"We have a boarding school for the Ministry of Education is responsible for the orphanage in penal colonies - FPS for children's colonies - Ministry of Internal Affairs, and for spetsinternaty (internat for special needs)- Ministry of Health. What kind of uniform standards can we talk about?" - He stressed.


Children on the export


Very sore topic was the relationship with foreign adoptive parents. In this regard, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Child tried to dispel the myth of the welfare of overseas adopted children in Russia and expressed hope that in the coming years, the country can opt out of this practice and to solve the problem as a whole.

"Russia will be without orphans, this phenomenon is drifting to the past - he said. In our country we have every opportunity and treatment, and detention of such children. Are we not ashamed still exporting oil, gas, and children abroad?".

The argument resulted in the Ombudsman showgirl in the U.S., which was disappointing. Over the past year in this country registered 3.6 million cases of child abuse, while 10% - are crimes of a sexual nature. This year, Americans were adopted almost 10 thousand children, and a little more than a thousand - children from Russia.

Pavel Astakhov, also dispelled the misconception that foreigners are basically taking the education of disabled children and provide them with medical care there. According to statistics, foreigners taken from Russia, only 4% of children with disabilities, while the Russians are being adopted to 7% of these children.

The main reason such a high percentage of U.S. citizens involved in intercountry adoption of children from Russia and the low number of us, he sees kriminalizirovannosti this market.

Kids as Business


Thus, according to expert estimates the annual turnover of a foreign adoption agency is more than $ 270 million average price for each child - $ 25 thousand, while in Russia this amount for various reasons and barriers twice as high. Total in the country there are about 80 such agencies.

Due to the tense situation and a lot of scandals, now at the Foreign Ministry and the Ombudsman for Children is working to consider further ways of cooperation. Can not exclude the possibility of introducing a temporary moratorium on adoptions by U.S. citizens. However, this procedure is possible only by mutual agreement of the parties and must be notified 3 months prior to the entry into force.

Meanwhile, experts in this approach are skeptical, calling to solve the problem first in the country. So a psychologist dealing with the problem of adoption of children, Lyudmila Letanovskaya sees no serious problems in foster care in the U.S., and blamed all the ills of Russian society.

"It has been proved that children adopted by foreigners, more opportunities and chances to recover, if they have congenital abnormalities. Another question that the American public and experts often simply not ready for our children, already disfigured system in institutions. Hence, problems, "- said in an interview with an expert Firstnews.

According to her, much more important to make the transition to family boarding schools, that will solve the problem. Restrictive measures, she says, only breed corruption in this area.

The same opinion is shared by the chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Committee of Russia Kirill Kabanov. He calls on his part to begin with the law and change the whole system of adoption as our citizens and foreigners.

"This long-standing corruption system, which would be difficult to break because of her podtochennosti under procedures of the majority - said in an interview with Kirill Kabanov Firstnews. - It is necessary to prescribe clear, transparent, clear and strict rules of adoption that has no loopholes."

At the same time he opposed the moratorium, believing that it is more a political move that will deprive many children of a happy and meaningful childhood.

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I definitely feel that this situation warrants some serious prayer. Unfortunately, the news source (this one and others) have not given any sources of their statistics, so whether the information that they are feeding is correct or honest - there is no way to tell. I am glad to see that there is some discussion and opposition to this decision, and I am frankly puzzled as to why only US adoptions are mentioned.
Is it because mostly US families are adopting children from Russia?
It various articles, dating from the beginning of December, they are quoting Pavel giving examples of two - three supposed cases, or alleged abuse/criminal behavior/murder of adopted children from Russia.

The problem remains, that sensational stories without context reign in the media business - in Russia, just like in US. However, there is little background-checking, context, or even information on the details in the situation.

I digress. Anger aside - I invite you to prayer for hearts to be changed, and doors to be opened. If not for US - for other countries, or even better - for Russian families to start adopting Russian children, and have financial opportunity to do so.

What God will do with your "I would never"s, Part II

Hello, my friends. Long time no see, I know. But I am back now, and ready to resume my writing. I would like to kick-off the next chapter of my life with a reference to my older post :What God will do with your "I would never"s

To summarize it briefly, before I started reading about African missionaries, my heart has been closed for possibility of actually going to Africa. Most of it was fear. Fear or the unknown world, people, customs. "Anywhere else is fine, God, just not Africa."

But overtime, as I read the stories of other missionaries, and other Christian men and women, who found themselves across the world on the African soil, I felt my heart change. I felt God fill me with yearning to do more. Do be more. Do do something. Start somewhere. Learn something about Him and myself.

Without going into too much detail, I must admit that I have distanced myself from blogging. I will talk about that at some point, but this story is not about that. Few days ago, after reading a book about an orphan, I had an urge to go read the blogs of my bloggy friends. By chance, I came across Linny's post: Could this be the trip for you.

Immediately, I felt a stirring in my heart. Well, what's holding me back? Money? I have the money. Fear? I do not fear anymore. Not having a group to go with? Well - here they are - reaching out their hand. People that you know and love, as if I met them in real life.

I want to go. I want to go. Maybe not in Febuary (too soon), but definitely in June. Still, not trusting myself I began praying. Because whenever I really WANT something, I start thinking that its just me wanting. What's my motivation? Am I seeking glory for myself? To feel good about myself? To have others admire me?

Well, I prayed for a sign. For guidance. This morning, out of the blue, my sister in Christ Kim, by pure chance came across a book. She shares a link with me:



The funny thing, is that we both know the author. We have met him before I was even a Christian, and somehow, this person we met many years ago was in our life. We did not keep contact, but always remembered him. He got up and did something, tired of being a pew-warmer.

I am a pew-warmer, only I don't even bother warming pews. But I have a strong desire to do this, and thus it is decided: I am going to Uganda. Unless the Lord tells me strongly NO, I am going to Uganda. I am so excited, beyond words.

I don't expect the trip to be fun. Honestly, I don't know what to expect. I'm letting the Lord to decide what I will be doing - whatever it is, doesn't really matter. He will work the details out.

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