...and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27
Charrissa and I in researching Down syndrome, happened across a website a couple of months ago, www.ReecesRainbow.com. This is a website with a bunch of pictures of disabled children, mainly children with Down syndrome, like my youngest son. These children are from other countries where the outlook for them is not good. On this website there was a lot of terminology for these children that I was unfamiliar with like “will be sent to the Institution soon.” I was unclear exactly what that meant other than that some of the children had statements about them like “once sent to the institution they cannot be adopted.” After further research, we found that these institutions were really referred to by their countrymen as insane asylums. We ran across articles like this one where volunteers working in an Eastern European Institution cataloged what they saw and experienced …(Read with Caution – not for young eyes)… following is an excerpt from the article I read:
"When we arrived at the orphanage we were met by older children without coats, they were begging us to give things to them and not to the directors. It is very hard to write about the rest of this part of the trip. I cannot give a step by step account because we were all in a state of shock. We spoke to the director about our program and he told us that he knows the children need more but he said, "I cannot ask my workers to do more, they work very hard, clearing the road, shoveling snow, cleaning the floors and the children, they have not time, they must work very hard all day and then they must dig graves and bury children." What do you say to that?
"Still, the staff took us around to show us how it is. Words don't come to mind, most of our team was crying and could not stop. Dark hallways, screaming, children clustered together in freezing rooms, some in strait-jackets, haunted looking crying, asking if they were good, asking for food. Water dripping from the dark ceilings, mold everywhere. We held children who were 10 and 13 years old in our arms like infants. One team member said later that she never knew that humans are like fish and will only grow to the size of their environment. One team member threw up outside. Children never leave their beds in some rooms. These children are ages 4-16. In other rooms they leave to go to a room with just a bench and nothing else in it. They hold each other -rocking one another. I have never seen such deprivation and our photographer said it best when he said it was a concentration camp for children. Sorry, this is such a hard part to write but I looked in the eyes of many children who are dying. Their tiny bones fit into the palm of my hands. Their skeleton faces begging for help. No one in our team has really slept since. We talk about it but just end up in tears. I promised the orphanage staff we would come back with a team of people to help them. They are counting on it. The director told one team member that 20 years ago he asked for help there and the soviet minister came and visited. The visiting soviet minister told the director, 'why do you keep these animals alive? You can kill them, you know how to do it you are a doctor.' He never sent any money or aid to the orphanage."
We also read current stories, like of a family who was just in the same country for an adoption of a Ds child about a month ago, and was told by the orphanage head and the judge that saw their case that these children would not survive had they not been adopted. In their own country they know of the problem.
My son is not insane nor is he lacking anything that should deprive him of an opportunity for life. Yet these children are cast out because they are considered undesirable, or beyond real help. That is where the Christian in me says that this is no different than my story of salvation. I am undesirable and yet God loved me enough to send His Son to pay the penalty for my sin on Calvary. He loved me though I am, in terms of righteousness, undesirable.
We have been forever impacted by this reality and we as a family cannot sit by and just be moved with compassion. To put it in a biblical context, we cannot walk by on the other side of the road. We are embarking on a journey to adopt a couple of these undesirables. We do not know where it will lead as far as ministry opportunities down the road, but we have to act.
The blessings we have seen already have been amazing. I will have to save those for posts at another time. However, one of them thus far was a most delightful and sweet spirited woman in the UK who decided to donate her time to help us create a blog to catalog our journey and document the steps that we have and will go through to make these adoptions a reality. She is quite gifted and did a beautiful job designing the blog. Check it out… anextraleaf.blogspot.com.
Our hope in all of this is to bring honor and glory to our Savior’s name by showing the love of Christ, to raise awareness to the problems internationally and the need for adoption of disabled children internationally, to help in a foreign country that is willing to realize that they have a need of assistance – whether that be by an annual trip to help out in an orphanage or whatever, and of course to make a lifelong impact in a couple of very worthy young children’s lives.
We share this with you tonight in hope that you will support us in prayer. We have a very short window to get these children home, expecting to be completing this all in 2010. We ask for your prayers and support. We know that some will think us crazy, but I would rather have my critics while trying to do something for Christ than having no critics and accomplishing nothing.
We are excited to announce that with the Lord's help, we will be bringing Matthew and Ivanna home. We invite you to follow our adoption journey at the blog I mentioned before http://anextraleaf.blogspot.com/