November is Orphan Awareness month, it seems, and any one of several Sundays therein are known as Orphan Sunday. Today (Nov. 20) is one of them, so here’s to remind you all that orphans are still out there awaiting a home. International adoption is such a mixed bag these days, as evidenced by this article on adoption in Uganda and what the country is doing to try to keep their children with them.
I have seen a lot of pieces lately about the difficulties of adoption, such as this piece that ran earlier this year in Christianity Today. I’m glad that the flood of folks who adopted kids in the aughts are speaking out about how hard it really is! I’ve said this before and will repeat it: The horror stories about foster care that I hear in my support group have caused me to decide never to do it. Not as a single mom. More on that in a minute.
Some time ago, I ran across a fascinating blog essay titled “The Silence of Adoption.” It says everything I’d like to say about what goes on with kids from overseas. Because my daughter was adopted fairly early in her life, I thought I had escaped the issues described in this essay but as the years have progressed, it turns out that I have not. As the author says:
It happens to many many families after they come home. It is a disappointing reality for those who are watching and praying the child home. The family is so great about sharing the adoption story and so many jump on board to support and encourage and then the family hits American soil and suddenly the family is silent.
A blog here or there with happy pictures or maybe hints that things are tough but few words and little information.
It’s the silence of adoption.
Read it all. I’ve found some other helpful links, including this Facebook page for people considering adopting special needs kids from China. These days, special needs kids are what (or who) is available overseas.
I spend a fair amount of time these days going to parent support groups for special needs kids and the situations I run into would tear your heart out. I was at one where one parent wearing a green Seahawks T-shirt confessed how he himself is high-end autistic, but he had dreams of his children not inheriting his problems. Imagine his reaction when his daughter was discovered to be not only Down Syndrome but non-verbal. She’s about 18 and cannot be left alone.
“I can’t even talk with her,” he told us. “Can you imagine what that feels like?” He shuffled out of there, his head drooping, his shoulders sunk forward. My heart went out to him, as he has no hope. Most parents of special needs kids don’t have a lot of money, as insurance doesn’t always cover the specialists and medications they need. I sent Veeka to several week-long camps this summer; two of them overnight camps. Except for one bad day, she got through them all. I’ve had parents tell me what a luxury that is and that they cannot imagine their kids making it through one night away from home, not to mention 5 or 6 nights. I guess that’s one luxury single parents have, as we’ve had to farm out our kids when we go on business trips starting at a young age. So our kids are used to staying with other folks. Still, people aren’t lining up to take care of kids with mental illnesses for several days so the parents can take a break.
Back to foster care: An investigative journalism group recently came out with a depressing series of stories about the mess that the Washington state foster care system is in and how even the good parents are getting out. Click on the above link as well as here and here to read about it.
My brother Steve has written a lot in the pages of the Oregonian about Oregon’s foster care system, which isn’t a whole lot better!
One of his projects was to try to find 884 more foster families among the evangelical Christian populace of greater Portland:
If you’ve ever gone through foster care training, believe me, they don’t make it easy for you to get certified! So far, in this 2014 update, 49 homes had been certified among evangelicals. That may not sound like a whole lot, but if you knew what was involved in foster care, you’d be crowning these folks as saints. The idea behind churches getting involved in this effort was the wish that no child in Oregon be without a home and that Oregon’s churches had a moral responsibility to do something about it.
My brother also wrote about one DHS nightmare in that the agency was taking foster kids out of their foster parents’ home and putting them back into really dangerous situations with their natural parents.
And then another piece – by another Oregonian writer – about a lawsuit against Oregon DHS. This is so disheartening because even when people get the courage up to try fostering kids, they get overwhelmed by the insanities of foster care systems in the Pacific Northwest.
I close with the thought that 10 years ago at this time, I had a picture of my little girl in my purse that I carried with me at all times. I had just told my employers that I was going on three months maternity leave, not because of their generous leave policies but because I had three months of sick leave saved up. Thank God for the Family Medical Leave Act. Thus, I was able to draw full salary during the entire time I was overseas, then home for 6 weeks with my little girl.