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Old 06-20-2013, 05:13 PM
 
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[quote]

Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
It appears that lots of "very sweeping broad
brushes" are being utilized in this thread. So - once again - let me reiterate:
every family is unique and different. I'd wager the vast majority of adoptive
parents adopt for what most of us would consider "good reasons", not solely to
save souls.
I agree that each family is different.

 
Quote:




As far as adopting multiple kids with DS because they are pliable, happy
kids: come on. That's the stereotype. In reality, people with Down syndrome have
just about as broad a range of personalities as do any other group of people.
Many are sweet-natured and happy; others - not so much so.

Also, considering the poor physical, mental, and emotional conditions
resulting from neglect which far too many orphaned kids with DS endure prior to
adoption, and the many issues which must be overcome, I hardly think it's likely
that adoptive parents choose kids with DS just because they think they're going
to wind up with an "easy" child.

It's not easy to have a child with untreated serious heart problems, hearing
loss due to multiple ear infections, vision loss due to untreated crossed eyes,
lack of speech because no one ever spoke to the child (or due to uncorrected
cleft palate), severe underweight due to malnutrition and parasites, skin
problems due to parasites, malnutrition, and harsh soaps used on the fragile,
dry skin common in DS, eating disorders due to weak mouth muscles and neglected
teeth combined with the haste with which the overwhelmed orphanage nannies all
too frequently shovel food into the far too many children left in their care,
stimming (rocking, head-banging, finger gnawing) due to sheer neglect and
loneliness and lack of any affection...

This doesn't even include the lesser issues of new parents, new rout8ines,
new environment, jet lag, language barriers...which all internationally adopted
children face initially. However, by comparison, these concerns are minimal.

No, I hardly think people who internationally adopt kids with Down syndrome
expect "easy children", if they educate themselves at all about the conditions
their children have all too frequently endured. Even the "good" baby house
orphanages, where children's health concerns are addressed, food and clothing
are adequate, and children are kindly treated cannot take the place of a loving
family - and in almost all cases, children with DS are transferred from the baby
houses at age four or five, into adult-level mental institutions, where many of
them do not survive long.
I agree with you that each child with DS is an individual which is why I am concerned when I've seen blogs where they are adopting multiple children with DS. I think they do so because they think that if they can get them out of the country and into the US, then that is the main thing. The children probably do thrive in the short run but I wonder whether they always get the individual attention they need as they get older because, as you said, they have different personalities and needs. I've seen other blogs where, when the child doesn't work out, the blogger has asked their regular readers if they know of someone who can take the child (not necessarily DS) and there seems to be an informal disruption situation where children can be passed from one family to another.

As for education, I think it is not just important for Americans to learn about adopting a DS child but also for Russians to learn more for the opposite reason. When reading Downside Up (a UK/Russian DS site), they mentioned that it was often not the parents that didn't want to raise the child, it was apparently still doctors telling them that the child should go to an institution - it is like they are stuck in the 40s attitude-wise. Craig, is it more the perception of DS that is the issue re Ukrainians/Russians adopting children with DS or is it more the medical issues (heart problems etc) that is the problem? Are DS children are ever seen on TV in the Ukraine/Russia? As much as we may mock TV at times, it is often a medium where we do get to understand about various different things and I think that the western perception of children with DS has changed because of seeing them on TV and showing what they can be capable of (of course each child is different). I think organisations like DS Up are trying to change that perception.

Quote:
It's also a blessing that churches are encouraging their members to consider
adoption, either domestic or international, of both typical children and
children with special needs. I think those who adopt for the questionable
reasons cited by others here are a very small minority. If all were as it should
be in the adoption procedure, such families should be encouraged to postpone
considering adoption until they have better educated and informed themselves
about the realities and needs of children coming from institutional backgrounds,
and until they've spoken with other families who've successfully adopted such
children, be those families fundamentalists or not.

Involving religious beliefs in adoption is not an automatic red flag - but it
might be a yellow, caution flag.
Yellow, caution flag - I like that, Craig

As I said above, my main concern is that when some churches are talking about orphan/widow/oppressed people care, they have put adoption at the forefront of that care
and, by doing so, other types of care may receive shortshift. There are definitely cases where 1) the members of the church feel that to be a good Christian, they must adopt; 2) when church members don't have the funds, there are multiple fundraisers at the church for them, which could lead to donation fatigue. There are quite a fiew blogs out there where people are adopting children while having no funds and relying on people to donate. 3) Because adoption has a live child being brought home at the end of it - thus pulling on the heartstrings of donors - it can mean that the money goes towards those adoptions and other organisations may miss out due to not being as "sexy" as adoption.

Also, as I said above, the process MUST be above board for ALL adoptions. I can't imagine that God would want any child adopted via an adoption that had irregularities and thus is it is important for all to make sure that proper steps have been followed. Turning a blind eye and feigning ignorance doesn't it cut it these days.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:40 PM
 
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As I just stated in a PM to another poster, it's been a very long day - and an even longer week - and I am weary, so I will have to respond about what I see as the church's role in adoption more fully later, but to address your questions about how Down syndrome (and other special needs) are typically viewed in Russia (and by many, if not most, of the countries of the former Soviet Union and Soviet bloc): it's not just the medical complications that are viewed as "difficult", but the very idea of having a child who is seen as flawed, imperfect, "defective". This applies to many, many other special needs, in addition to Down syndrome.

No, I doubt if people with DS ever appear on television, unless they somehow make the news, as happened in a country to which I'll refer later in this post when a particularly hellish orphanage's terrible conditions were uncovered by the western press, then picked up by the local media. That place has improved considerably now but still has a long way to go - increased government support would help with the material needs.

And yes, doctors often urge parents to give custody of such children to the state - i.e., "baby house" orphanages, and parents who are hesitant are often told that the child's needs can be better met by the baby house than by parents, who lack experience and training in coping with the various issues presented by a child with special needs.

There is no place in these societies in for anyone with significant special needs: elevators in those concrete apartment towers erected after WWII to house the formerly rural population and to take the place of housing lost to war do not accommodate wheelchairs. There are no curb cuts. There's no special education, other than a few places for deaf and blind children with typical intelligence, and precious few physical, speech, and occupational therapies.

People - adults and children - with visible special needs are routinely stared at by others, who've never seen people using crutches, wheelchairs, braces, or people with DS or CP or limb differences....perhaps the older people, survivors of WWII, remember limb differences, crutches, and wheelchairs, but the rest - such people are hidden away: "defectives", they are termed. Children with typical intelligence but with physical differences are routinely grouped with children - and often, adults - with mental delays in the orphanage/ institution system. These children don't remain typical in their intelligence very long when this happens...

In Eastern Europe, old folk beliefs viewed the birth of a child with special needs as being a punishment for the parents' sins. After the rise of the USSR, such children were viewed as being of no use to the State - and thus, of no use whatsoever. People with developmental delays were considered unable to learn anything beyond perhaps the very basics of existence (usually feeding themselves, toilet training, and dressing themselves. Many who were capable of much more never receive any education or training beyond what makes life easier for their caregivers. And many don't even get the basic training in self-care).

In many isolated orphanages and institutions, these beliefs are still evident. I've seen very recent photographs of small children with DS tied to their cribs. I know of a family who just brought home a boy of fifteen, with CP - who is the size of a typical THREE YEAR OLD! He understands some of his native language, but cannot speak or walk, though there is still light in his eyes and he has received much better care during the last few months than during the fourteen previous years that he was in this terrible place. The same family adopted a little girl with DS from the same notorious orphanage 18 months ago - she was nine and weighed less than my cat. This was in a country formerly part of the Soviet bloc.

In other institutions, small boys, older boys, teenagers and young men with special needs that include
DS, arthrogryposis, and CP are taken to an open shed each morning during the summer months, where they sit on long benches. The shed's door is blocked so they cannot play in the lovely flower gardens which surround this rural institution, which was once a dacha and is still surrounded by high walls, so the boys and young men cannot see out - and no one in the nearby village can see in. The boys have no toys, no books, no education, nothing - but a bench and a shed. So they rock, and moan, and stim...anything, to break the terrible monotony. The winters are worse, for then they are kept inside for months and months - no outsiders have been permitted to visit the dormitories and other rooms in which these boys live (instead, they are taken to a sort of parlor/reception room).

Two or three small boys have been adopted (by American families)from this isolated place, which is in another country once part of the former USSR. I do not know of any domestic adoptions from this place.

There is a LOT of education needed in this part of the world about people with special needs. A little girl with DS died recently in a Russian orphanage, due to untreated heart defects. She had an American family who had committed to adopt her, but Putin's decision made that impossible. The little girl was only two years old...she walked, was responsive - and was in one of the better baby houses, evidently. But she didn't get the basic health care she needed. I only know about her because of the family that loved her and wanted her to be their daughter. I expect there are many, many more like her, about whom outsiders never learn...

Conditions like these, and the resulting cruelties, tragedies and utter waste of human lives are among the many reasons I advocate for international special needs adoption.

Last edited by CraigCreek; 06-20-2013 at 09:22 PM..
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:10 PM
 
Location: Liberal Coast
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
Two or three small boys have been adopted (by American families)from this isolated place, which is in another country once part of the former USSR. I do not know of any domestic adoptions from this place.
Three boys have been adopted, and at least one of them is with what would be considered an Evangelical family. None of them adopted these boys in order to convert them. Another family is expecting to travel in August for a boy from there, and another is in process for a boy who is there only because he is paralyzed.
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psr13 View Post
Three boys have been adopted, and at least one of them is with what would be considered an Evangelical family. None of them adopted these boys in order to convert them. Another family is expecting to travel in August for a boy from there, and another is in process for a boy who is there only because he is paralyzed.
Thanks so much for sharing these updates.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:25 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigCreek View Post
There is a LOT of education needed in this part of the world about people with special needs. A little girl with DS died recently in a Russian orphanage, due to untreated heart defects. She had an American family who had committed to adopt her, but Putin's decision made that impossible. The little girl was only two years old...she walked, was responsive - and was in one of the better baby houses, evidently. But she didn't get the basic health care she needed. I only know about her because of the family that loved her and wanted her to be their daughter. I expect there are many, many more like her, about whom outsiders never learn...
Just out of interest, I was wondering whether it was possible for someone to ask and what the reply would be if a potential adopting person asked the Russian Government the following question:

"I don't know if this adoption is going to happen but in the meantime, I'd like to pay for heart treatment just so that this child could stay alive"

I hope the help wouldn't be refused but am genuinely wondering what the situation would be if one offered to pay for the medical care of a child in an orphanage, whether available for adoption or not.

I just ask because I think if I were in that situation, i.e. in the midst of adopting a child who needed urgent medical care and the adoption wasn't able to go through, I would still want to make sure the child got the urgent medical care, whatever the outcome re the adoption, and would hope it would be allowed.

Hypotheticallly, even if my prospective adoptive child didn't require urgent medical care, I would try and do something for them. For example, if they are in imminent danger of being sent to the mental institution as apparently happens when they turn a certain age, does one still let them just go? Can one not offer to pay to have them sent somewhere much better in the meantime (just in case the adoption never happens)? It is just that if one has a heart for a particular child, would one not want to do anything for them, whether one is eventually able to adopt them or not? I am sure there are many adoptive parents who feel similarly, i.e. that they would like to still be able to provide some sort of help to the child they care about, whether adoption is possible is not.

Last edited by susankate; 06-20-2013 at 11:04 PM..
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:43 PM
 
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Also, Craig, I will take your word about the Ukraine special needs because I do believe they are trying there but there can still be issues with special needs adoption.

The reason I do have an issue is because I do have an online friend who was adopted due to special needs because her bparents couldn't afford to ever be able to pay for the operation and who wouldn't have been allowed to take the child home until they had. Now that was years ago and one hopes that the not allowing to take the child home until the bill is paid is not so prevalent nowadays. However, her needs were very minor, a couple of quick operations well within the range of an American family but way out of the range of her bfamily. This situation is not unique. I know that when a child has a very rare condition then overseas medical help can be forthcoming but wondered what organisations you'd heard of, Craig, that help pay for more minor operations for the poor in various countries. I know they exist because there is at least one I know of here in Australia that helps the poor in other countries but wondered whether you knew of any (you can DM me with them).
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Old 06-21-2013, 05:49 AM
 
Location: Kansas
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I have hesitated to post regarding children with Down syndrome and as I have stated, we adopted a 4 week old infant with DS. I also subbed as a teaching assistance in a large school district in AZ for a couple of years, keeping very busy because not a lot of people are willing to go into the special education classrooms. Higher functioning children with DS are not the norm and most are in the "moderate" range. I had read the range was approximately 4 to 12 years of age for mental functioning with most falling around 8 years when an adult. Our son functions at less than 4 years, slightly. People with DS have personality differences and mental health issues just like everyone else and are at a higher risk of mental health issues. It has been extremely difficult raising our son with DS as he has "issues" beyond DS. He is the most stubborn person, well 2nd only to me anyway, and he lacks compassion so if you hurt yourself, he'll stand there and laugh at you. He makes EVERYTHING hard. We have had to involve a lot of outsiders in our lives to try to get the best outcome possible.

In order to properly parent a child with special needs, you must be able to acknowledge you need help because, you will. Help beyond prayer. You have to be willing to have your entire family dissected. You have to be willing to accept that the child might make you look like not that great of parent because of their behavior(s) and you have to be strong enough to not give a darn what other people think. You just have to be really confident and have patience. I know a lot of families exist behind a veil of silence when there are problems and that is my concern about families adopting so many children. My ex-husband's family had 10 children and I stayed in their home for 3 months while he was away at basic training and I learned a lot about the difference between a family of 4 like I grew up in and a family of 12.

I got a message once that the birthmother always keeps us in her prayers. I said to my husband, "That's got to be why we haven't went off the deep end yet!" Seriously.

If parenting seems easy, you're not doing it right!

We are lucky to have family history on the birth parents. I cannot imagine the added difficulties of bringing in children from different cultures and unknown backgrounds.

That statement though about how the children couldn't recognize the flag of their birth country but could sing "Jesus loves me", will continue to haunt me.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by susankate View Post
Also, Craig, I will take your word about the Ukraine special needs because I do believe they are trying there but there can still be issues with special needs adoption.

The reason I do have an issue is because I do have an online friend who was adopted due to special needs because her bparents couldn't afford to ever be able to pay for the operation and who wouldn't have been allowed to take the child home until they had. Now that was years ago and one hopes that the not allowing to take the child home until the bill is paid is not so prevalent nowadays. However, her needs were very minor, a couple of quick operations well within the range of an American family but way out of the range of her bfamily. This situation is not unique. I know that when a child has a very rare condition then overseas medical help can be forthcoming but wondered what organisations you'd heard of, Craig, that help pay for more minor operations for the poor in various countries. I know they exist because there is at least one I know of here in Australia that helps the poor in other countries but wondered whether you knew of any (you can DM me with them).
There are several American NGOs which have sponsored individual caregivers in some institutions to which many children with special needs have been sent, or otherwise provided much-needed assistance: Life to Orphans (has sponsored needed surgeries); His Kids, Too (has blown the whistle on negligence and very poor conditions, also provides basic necessities), Project Hopeful (educates about and advocates for kids with HIV), Grace Haven Ministries (advocates for and assists kids with a wide variety of special needs), and more.

In Zhitomir, Ukraine, tiny little Bible Orphan Ministry, with an unpaid staff of four, has worked wonders in over 10 orphanages and institutions. In addition to assisting children with special needs, older children in orphanages, teens who've aged out, young mothers (often those same teens), and young adults in mental institutions (most of whom are not mentally ill at all, but have developmental delays or physical special needs), BOM, like the rest of these organizations, welcomes assistance of many kinds - financial, sponsorship of individuals, material donations of clothing, toys, medicine, health supplies, and so on. All have good websites and welcome inquiries.

But results are very scatter-shot - in most cases, it's up to the orphanage/institution directors to determine where the money allocated or donated to their orphanage is spent. Some directors would be thrilled for a child with special needs to receive needed medical treatment with the financial assistance of sponsors such as you describe - others, not so much so. Yet others would decline such assistance - out of pride? Out of feeling that it would be money misspent? Who knows?? I only know that it has happened, and more than once.

Thankfully, most directors seem to be decent people who do their best in challenging to very difficult circumstances, though they may have antiquated notions about people with special needs, and who may genuinely fear for the fate of children who are internationally adopted. There are many absurd rumors about such adoptions - the most notorious one is that kids are adopted for their organs! Some older children have refused adoption into absolutely wonderful families because of these evil tales.

It's also sometimes possible for adoptive parents (and others) to donate both material goods (clothing, medicines, diapers, toys, playground equipment, washers and dryers, and so on, often to the orphanages or institutions where their children previously lived. Thus, some orphanages whose directors support adoption by making sure that the children's legal records are all in order, and who assist and encourage visitors who are considering adopting a child or children, benefit when later on, grateful parents provide gifts of this sort for the children who continue to live in these places.

But - if a director is not pro-adoption or doesn't welcome visitors (usually out of ignorance and fear; sometimes out of wanting to keep the orphanage population high in order to receive increased financial support from the government), then the corresponding numbers of adoptive families will be lower, information about orphanage conditions will not be widely known, and children are likely to suffer from very Spartan levels of "official" support. Toss corruption into the mix - it's not unknown for directors and other orphanage workers to skim off the top or to take donated items for their own uses - and the children suffer once again.

So - it's a very mixed picture, but those who are moved to assist and to try to make a positive difference can do so. Changing the societal patterns which lead to the orphanage system is another issue - but many children and institutionalized adults can be helped meanwhile. A child may live out their days in the orphanage system - while we cannot provide a family (or insure that the child's biological family reclaims custody, or encourage those who share the child's nationality to adopt), at least we can help provide adequate clothing, vitamins, toys, etc., and make life far more comfortable for that child than it might otherwise be.

I encourage anyone who wants to help in this way to check out the above groups, which are just a small sampling of such groups, and see if there's a way that seems right for you.
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sheena12 View Post
It's not silly to criticize it, if you have seen it in action. The Fundamentalist ("Evangelical" is theologically not the right word here, although the words seem to be used interchangeably by the press) are adopting souls - not children)

Parenting is not what they do. They warehouse children, some with severe disabilities to lead them to Christ. Not to raise, enjoy, have fun with, vacation with or laugh with.

To take to church several times a week in buses. To live in bunk bed lined rooms and feed cheap food and clothe minimally. There is ridged discipline that is applied liberally and affection is given conservatively.

The children's souls are what is adopted. The theology of "Serial Adopted Mega Families" is among the worst and most self serving that I've ever encountered.

Many of these people specifically choose high functioning Down's Syndrome children to adopt because they are generally cheerful and complaint.

They seldom adopt domestic kids or infants. Adoption is also a way to travel! And travel they do! While they are traveling they are also doing missionary work...How convenient!

If children with disabilities are adopted, they focus of older orphanage girls who can kiss their childhoods away. They clean and do the loads of laundry in institutional style washing machines donated by the "good people of the church."
I have seen it in action and what you are saying is a stereotype and inaccurate. They adopt many children with different congenital disorders not just high functioning Down Syndrope children. Most of their travel is third world countries or impoverished areas in 2nd world countries. They are not traveling to the Bahamas, Cancun and Maui. Even at what you may define as minimal care requires a considerable amount of time and work.
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Old 07-08-2013, 11:38 PM
 
Location: Warren, OH
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There is a Fundamentalist adoption movement. Could some Fundamentalists who adopt have healthy and normal reasons for adoption? Certainly.

There is an actual movement like this. These families exist.

I think that any family who adopts more that one or two children with a disability, should be closely examined. I also think that any family with more than 6 or 7 children who wants a larger family should also be rigorously questioned.

If these people are independently wealthy, there is less of a chance that they are seeking financial gain or other inappropriate secondary gain.

Most of these children come with financial benefits. Not only the 13,000 plus that the government provides, but frequently, Social Security Disability.
I have also read of web sites that direct people on how to milk the system.

They are also highly regarded in the fundamentalist community.

No one is saying that ALL Fundies adopt with these motives. No one is accusing anyone's relatives of doing this.

But to deny that there is a movement like this in the United States is to stick one's head in the sand.
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