Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why Have We Been Called???

We have been asked multiple times why we would ever adopt special needs children??? I get it, I was once there, and then God BLESSED us with Hannah and Micah and He let us see through His eyes how He loves the world. We feel very privileged to be given Hannah and Micah. Is caring for Jonas an easy task. ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!! Would we do it differently if given the chance? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! God has not called us to an easy life. Jonas amazes us every day with his problem solving skills: even if it is how to get into a diaper that is impossible (mom thought) to get in to!!! :-) These are great signs of his brain developing every single day! Even if it does mean a poopy mess. I will show you my new invention, and if he can figure this out, he might be borderline genius!!! :-) (Katie Todd: you are going to be laughing!!!)

Jonas is pretty much potty trained, so if he poops while he is down for his nap, he wants it off... I get that, but it is soooooooo disgusting!!!!!!! So, I have no choice!!!!!!!!! It is my sanity... I can not clean up any more poop on him, in the crib, or on the wall!

The quality of these pics are bad...but you get the point. If he gets through the packaging tape, I will be in tears!!! :-) So far, so good...

But seriously... adopting a special needs child is not easy at all. Especially a child with developmental delays! Am I saying that I don't love him or that we regret adopting him? NO, I am just telling you it is not all roses. It is sooooooo rewarding and amazing to see how much progress he has made in 16 months. (By the way: 16 months marks us as having him the longest in his life. He was with his mom in Haiti for 15 months and she took amazing care of him!!! He was at GLA for almost exactly a year, and Sept. 8 marked our 16 month mark.)

What I am getting to is an article that was linked on The Livesay's blog. It makes me even more sure,not that I need reassurance, that God has called us to adopt children with special needs, because in so many countries they are left to be trash! Could you imagine Hannah being born in Haiti??? Look at how crazy intelligent she is, and she would be put in a room to be retarded!!! Kids only achieve to what degree they are pushed. If she was left to be an animal, she would act like an animal. I have no doubts!!!
Haiti struggles to raise abandoned, disabled babies

Published: September 12, 2009

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Her frail body lies almost motionless inside a rusted metal crib. At 9 months old, she weighs just 5 pounds. The staff inside the Abandoned Baby Unit at the government-run Hospital of the State University of Haiti call her Sarafina. She was dumped on the hospital's front steps: no name, no note.

But doctors know her story all too well -- like the dozens of other special-needs babies crammed inside the unit, she was tossed out by parents who could not deal with her mental retardation.

"We find them on the streets, in the hospitals, in sewers," Dr. Questly Bonne-Anne said amid the wails of children confined two and three to small cribs. "We guess their age, we give them their names."

Sarafina, named after a musical where students struggle against apartheid, is among the lucky ones.

In this grindingly poor country, disabled children seem to disappear, hidden away as burdens in a culture where parents count on their children to someday provide for them. Even the healthiest of kids here face starvation, violence and child trafficking, but getting anyone to pay attention to the plight of those who are disabled has been difficult, child advocates say.

No one knows for certain how many disabled children are abandoned each year in Haiti, but child abandonment is a growing problem, says Mariavittoria Ballotta, child-protection officer with UNICEF-Haiti.

With an estimated 50,000 children living in orphanages throughout Haiti, those with disabilities get lost in the shuffle.

The government's Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), tasked with ensuring their well-being, is ill-equipped and underfunded. And so, many end up at the public hospital, according to child-care advocates.

The hospital has been plagued by corruption scandals, striking workers and high turnover of administrators.

"Most of the children in the Abandoned Baby Unit are handicapped, mentally challenged, past the legal age of adoption or have terminal illnesses. This makes it nearly impossible for IBESR to find homes in orphanages for these children," said Susie Scott Krabacher, an American philanthropist whose nonprofit Mercy and Sharing Foundation finances the unit.

Two years ago, Haitian President Rene Preval sought to give the plight of the country's disabled greater visibility by creating an office for the integration of people with disabilities. He named a longtime disabilities advocate and university professor to head it.

Michel Pean, who is blind, recently drafted 85 proposals for parliament to adopt. All are aimed at social acceptance, and in the particular case of children, ensuring they have a right to an education despite their limitations. Parliament is expected to receive the proposals soon.

In the past few years, an effort also has been under way to get parents to understand that children with disabilities can succeed.

Recently, Haitian newspapers heralded the story of 23 disabled high school students who sat for national exams, including one girl without arms who uses her toes to write.

"Progress is being made," said Pean, who credits nongovernmental groups and disabilities organizations such as his Haitian Society for the Blind with leading the effort through advocacy, protests and participation in radio programs. "During the past 10 years we have been able to fight for the rights of the handicapped. We've done a lot of work. There is still a long way to go."

Krabacher first learned that unwanted children were being left at the public hospital during a visit 16 years ago. Back then, the unit was a dark, secluded hallway where 17 children, covered in bedsores, slept in cribs with no mattresses.

Eventually, Mercy and Sharing took control of the unit. It expects to spend $55,000 this year buying diapers, medicine and food. It also pays the salaries of the nurses and two doctors. The problem with unwanted disabled children in Haiti stems from a society that stigmatizes parents who give birth to imperfectly formed children, in a place where few women get prenatal care amid an exploding birth rate.

"We have a society that doesn't accept handicapped children," said the Rev. Sadoni Leon, the director of St. Vincent Center for Handicapped Children, Haiti's best-known school for disabled children.

Leon said that while it's hard to understand how a parent can discard their baby, "many parents see the children as a burden they cannot bear, and the only solution is to find a place to abandon them." Even at the school, which has produced some of Haiti's most talented artists, there are disabled students whose parents disappeared after dropping them off.

"For a child that is 10 years old, it's traumatic to know that their parents left him here because the parent doesn't want him, can't take care of him," Leon said.

St. Vincent, one of the few centers that cares for and educates disabled children, was founded in 1945 by the Boston-based Episcopal Order of the Sisters of St. Margaret. Today, its health clinic and school are supported mainly through donations. Parents are asked to pay about $6.25 a month, a fee that is still out of reach for many of the parents of the 350 students from throughout Haiti.

Leon, who is struggling to keep St. Vincent open amid a downturn in donations, says the government must step in financially to support special education so that families of handicapped children can feel they have some assistance. "As a society," he said, "we need to do our part to ensure that these children don't feel like outcasts."

What are you doing to help these children that do not have a voice???


One Crowded House said...

you are blessed! And you are a blessing... not only to your kids... but to the people you help educate!

Thanks for all you do!!!!!!!!

pinkdaisyjane said...

Thank you for sharing your blessings with us!

Laurie said...

That packing tape gettup is halarious! And way to go that Jonas is potty trained!

Whoever thought that packing tape would be part of the 'diaper changing station ensemble." :)

Jessica said...

having had to clean up a few of those poopy messes i sympathize with you and hope the tape works ;) can't wait to see you in Nov! (that's forever away...)

Katie Todd said...

Ahhhh, the tape comes out again! I love it!! I told you that would come in handy! Ours was duct tape and masking tape. Bet the people that invented tape of any kind didn't think it would be used to keep diapers on kids! HA! HA!