Friday, February 20, 2015

How do you get people to care?

Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 12

Most of the time, I am pretty even keeled. I accept the world has a lot of stinky bits to it, but do what I can, though it always feels like so little. Then there are other times when I am so overwhelmed that I just want to scream and scream and scream until someone starts to pay attention. What has started this little round of imaginary screaming is not the state of Illinois (though I wouldn't blame you if that is immediately where you went), but this blog post, Adoption: Hard to Start, Harder to Stop. I agree with every word. It is difficult to take the plunge. J. and I dithered about it for over ten years and the births of three children. J. and I have also had times when we thought we should adopt a child or children, but were pretty clearly told no by God that we shouldn't. I get all of that. But J. and I have also seen the inside of more than one orphanage. We have met children who desperately wanted a mommy and a daddy. We have held these children, we have talked with them, we have had to tell them we were not their new mommy and daddy and left with another child. That does something to a person. It changes you and you see things differently. It is a sudden and powerful reordering of your priorities.

What caught my attention most in the blog post was the reaction of others when this man told them they thought they were done adding to their family. (I will note that while I don't know this family, they would appear to be quite functional. A family that is struggling and falling apart needs the support of their church and community to achieve wellness. For this argument we're going to leave struggling families out of the discussion.) According to that author, the general reaction was one of relief from others. Why? Why would that be someone's reaction? They weren't being asked to raise these children. Admit it, it's odd. Could it be that by this family adopting four children and raising six, that they were showing to the world that the world's assumptions were wrong? That it is possible to have a "good" life and have more than the usual two? Is their family a constant reminder that there are children out there somewhere who need homes and by them stopping it was limiting the amount of guilt others felt? I don't know, but you can tell by my tone that I am irritated. I guess I just don't understand the gladness and relief expressed by others that another child will not have a family. Don't read that wrong. I am not faulting the writer or his family. They are making decisions as to what is best for their family at this time and have also expressed regret that for the immediate future another adoption isn't on the table. I've been in that place; I get it. It is a desire to do more, to love another child, yet be told not now. Sympathy as a response makes sense to me, but relief?

I don't understand why everyone isn't doing something... adoption, sponsorship, funding another family's adoption, supporting in a hands-on way an adoptive family (we have a couple of friends in our lives who cannot adopt but have been a huge support to us; this counts). These are not just statistics and diagnoses, they are real children who face things everyday we cannot imagine. Here is one very true life example that I have permission to share from my friend who wrote this a couple of days ago about her daughter:

Today Jasmine got a cough assist machine. The respiratory therapist came in to teach us how to use it. It is a mask that sits on her face and forces in a deeper breath and then it helps her cough. It frightened her a bit.
A little while later she started asking why she had to use it. 
Jasmine - "It's scary. Why I have to do it mama?"
Me - "We need to keep your lungs healthy and you need help taking a deep breath." 
Jasmine - "Do I have to do it every day?"
Me - "No, just when you are sick. It's to help keep you from getting pneumonia and helps to keep you out of the hospital."
Jasmine - "I don't like the hospital."
Me - "I don't either. I want to keep you healthy and keep you with me for a long, long time." 
Jasmine - "You do mama?"
Me - "Of course I do. I love you so much. I want as much time as I can have with you." 
Jasmine - "Even though I'm heavy?"
Me - "Why would you ask me that? We've talked about that. You are NOT heavy."
Jasmine - "Cause the nannies would tell me I am too heavy and too much work so why don't I just die anyway?"
Me (After I composed myself and caught my breath and reminded myself that God is the perfect enforcer of proper retribution and that flying to another country to beat someone up probably wasn't the wisest move.) - Did the nannies really say that Jasmine? What did you think?"
Jasmine - "Maybe I should just die and make everyone's life easy.”
Said just like that. So matter of fact like it was nothing. How did she survive? How did she keep her sweet soul intact? Oh how I wish I could have protected her from the evil in this world.
Being away from the kids is hard. Cassie is doing a great job but the housework and laundry and extras are falling behind. Sometimes I want to scream because I just want to be home and be in control of the housework and the kid's school and playtime and I really miss my babies. But with all that being said and knowing what I know now I would still get on that plane and go get her. Somethings are more important than dishes in the sink or floors that are sticky or even schoolwork that will have to be done in June.

Did you read that? A child who was told repeatedly that it would be better if she would just die? How can anyone ignore that? I've met this girl in person. She is a lovely, lovely girl and I fell in love with her. She is most definitely valuable. I hope it makes you want to scream.

Do you see now why I'm so up in arms about the delays caused by Illinois' ridiculous policies? They keep children (not all children, but even one is too many) in situations like the one Jasmine described longer than necessary. Thankfully I know my daughter is in a good place. It is a relief, but others are not so lucky and they are waiting to bring their children home as well.

Make a noise. Pray for the children. Ask yourself if you are someones mommy or daddy... and just didn't know it. I will admit there are things we forego because of our choices to bring our children home. As much as everyone (and L. in particular) would love it, we won't be going to Disneyland. We don't eat out at restaurants except as a very special treat. Movies? Same thing. New cars? Um, what are they? I am intimately familiar with thrift stores and making do and am thankful for it because my children are worth having here and worth the sacrifices that entails.

Maybe you just don't know. Maybe you haven't seen the faces, heard the stories. Well, here are some places to begin.

Twenty Less - An advocacy website that focuses on just twenty (out of the 1000's of children who have files prepared)  Look at this little guy from their list:

This is Pete. He has the double-strike of being both a boy and having a facial difference. By the way, I know a really excellent plastic surgeon.

Or there is Waiting Child Info which along with waiting children has a lot of information about special needs and how to adopt.

Most agencies also keep waiting child lists. CCAI, our agency, does, and also has some children listed on their website. Here is my favorite little one:

This is Shan. Isn't she adorable?! Oh my goodness... if I had a little more money and lived in a better state... Don't you think she would be so cute playing with K? Ugh. Can't go there. But really, she has been met by many families who have brought home children from her orphanage. She cries when one of 'her' babies leaves. She deserves to be the one leaving with a mommy and daddy... even if it isn't me. 

I want people to care about these children. I want people to care enough about these children to DO something. And don't forget to send your weekly letter to the representatives of IL's government. At some point one of them has to answer someone at some point, right?

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