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The first children to catch my eye were “Heath” and “Brady”(their RR pseudonyms, real names are not listed in order to protect privacy). They were living in a mental institution in the middle of nowhere, in an Eastern European country. An adoptive mom who had been at the same institute, adopting her son with arthrogryposis , wrote about Heath and Brady in her blog, and my heart just about broke.
At the time, I just couldn't get the two boys – two little boys with Down Syndrome – out of my mind. Thankfully, Brady was adopted pretty quickly – but Heath wasn't so fortunate. I wasn't in a position to adopt, so what could I do ? I started to advocate for Heath and the other children listed for adoption on Reece's Rainbow. I shouted for them on Facebook, I donated when I could, and I cheered when families stepped up to adopt.
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Why advocate for these children ? Why not leave them where they belong, in their own country ? The sad fact is, that in many countries around the world, children born with disabilities are seen as broken, as unworthy. There is no education available for them, no therapies, no help for families, and little medical care. They are mostly abandoned at the hospital at birth, or given up at an older age when families realize they are not “perfect”. These children live in “baby houses” for the first few years of their life, and then are transferred, as early as four years of age – to mental institutions. Those that can walk fare slightly better – those unable to walk spend their lives laying in a crib, doing nothing. The orphanages and institutions are usually extremely short staffed, so the children receive minimal care – resulting in malnutrition, sickness, and often death at an early age.
Children that in the USA would receive the best of medical care, and therapies, and education, are left to waste away and die. Children that in the USA can grow up to be productive members of society – living and working a normal life – are deemed unworthy, and cast away. THIS is why I advocate. THIS is why I shout.
I shout for those who cannot shout for themselves.
Remember Heath ? I wasn't the only one to see him. Many people around the country – and the world – shouted for Heath and so many other children – and within a couple of years, Heath was “fully funded” - meaning, if an adoptive family stepped forward for him, their costs would be fully paid for !! Yet still he waited. And waited. Until, finally, just about a year ago, a family saw him and said “YES” !!! They claimed him as their son, and, after working through the adoption process, they were able to bring him home around Thanksgiving 2013. His new name is Boden, and he is absolutely thriving – the love of a family has no bounds !!