Sunday, March 25, 2012
Roots and Wings
In reading over my first post, I realized it probably came across as me being disgusted with the institutional system in Arnold's country in general, or the people. I want to make clear that I have a great respect and admiration for the people in his country. I feel so blessed to have been corresponding with a kind-hearted, genuine, good woman there, who is a wonderful representation of her country. I don't believe the people in his area have a general hatred of people with disabilities. I believe the people in Russia are just like the people in the United States used to be not very long ago: unaware that people with disabilities, Down syndrome specifically, are capable of leading happy, healthy, productive lives if given the support they need. Even I wasn't aware how many individuals with DS lived on their own or with roommates, had boyfriends/girlfriends and even got married and attended college here in the US. Education changes everything, and Arnold's country, I believe, will one day be as accepting of people with disabilities as people are here.
I believe many who send their disabled child to an orphanage in his country feel they have no choice. It wasn't long ago that children born in the US with Down syndrome were quickly sent to institutions, the parents told by doctors to tell their families the child had died during birth. "Go home, and forget this baby," they were instructed. Can you imagine? Mothers in his country have very little to no support for children like Arnold, should they even dare to take them home. How can these women pay for extra health care, time off of work to go to therapies and doctor visits? The child may not have the opportunity to go to school, a day care, or be accepted in church or the community at large. I'm sure it would all seem so overwhelming, and given this or sending a child to a facility that may enable him/her to be adopted into a family and country that will be accepting of this child, the loving choice may be adoption, as heart-wrenching as I'm sure it must be.
I have no position of authority on any of these issues, but I didn't want to come across as judgmental about the people of Arnold's country or their intentions. None of us knows the hearts of these mothers who make the difficult decision to place their child in an orphanage. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt. The conditions in the adult institutions there are so very devastating and heart-wrenching. But it is an entire way of thinking that needs to change before conditions can improve. I am praying and hoping that it is something I will see in my lifetime. If not, I pray that my own children will advocate for change through sharing Arnold's story and their own stories, about how their lives have been blessed by the unexpected.
I am so excited to learn more about the rich heritage and history of Arnold's country. To know more about its people, traditions, and landscape. I never once in my life thought I would travel to this part of the world, so I consider this a blessed opportunity. I am proud of my new son's heritage and plan to incorporate its richness into our lives as well, so that he will always remember where his roots are. I'd like to think his roots are in Eastern Europe, but his wings are in America, and every child needs roots and wings.
Posted by Becky at 11:32 PM