Wednesday, March 7, 2012

We are listed!

I'm so excited to share that we have our Reece's Rainbow profile!

Please take a few minutes to read our story, since there are details contained in our profile that we haven't yet shared here....specifically, the fact that we are actually (currently!) parents to three children...but we only ever talk of Chelsea.  This is because two of our children (twin boys) died when they were unexpectedly premature.  Next week is their 4th birthday, and I will share our memorial video of them and take a few moments to talk about them.  They are our sons, too.  Someday soon, we hope to be parents to four children.  Sadly, two of them will be invisible and unseen, but their faces and names are written on our hearts forever, and God knows them by name and hold them in the palm of His hand. 

"Ian" (the Little Dude) doesn't particularly stand out.  He isn't afflicted with some life-threatening disorder which can sometimes call others to advocate.  He isn't particularly small.  He has severe strabismus (crossed eye) that isn't seen in his cute referral photograph.  We have a new photo that we will share shortly that shows a different little boy than this cute one.  A little boy who is slowly falling into the culture of institutionalization...a boy with an eye that is terribly crossed and that may be reaching a point of blindness...

A forgotten boy.  One who isn't terribly remarkable.  He's not super sick, he's not super old.  Of course, he's considered by most standards to be "adoptable".  His only remarkable characteristic?  He's a boy.

Do you know how often boys are overlooked in adoption?  I don't know why this is.  I have some theories, but nothing concrete.  However, 70-90% of the adoption requests that prospective parents make ask for GIRLS.

Even our social worker remarked anecdotally that in her experience, at least two-thirds of her home studies request girls.

And girls are lovely!  I have a little girl!  And all orphans deserve homes! I would never deny a little girl the chance to find a family.

I just wish it was a bit more equitable, because I'm the queen of fairness.  Life isn't fair, but sometimes I wish it was.  So, when we began this journey, we made a promise to ourselves that we would seek out a son, because we knew so many boys would be overlooked.  We had to make considerations of what we were able to take care of because we already have a daughter with special needs.  We wanted to make sure we were prepared to provide for the needs of two children with needs.  This unfortunately excluded some conditions.  But it was more important to us to know without question that we could parent this child with whatever needs he might bring - because although he deserves a family and ANY family is likely better than what happens to him in The Bad Place - we would not be good parents if we chose to adopt a child with needs we were not prepared to accept.

Naturally, this requires a great deal of faith, because it is possible (even likely?) that he will come home with needs that are different than what we think they are.  And we accept that.  We have to accept that.  If we do not, we cannot proceed with this adoption.  I am learning this lesson every day.

I LOVE that there are advocates out there for children with complicated special needs, or children who are about to age out of an orphanage.  That is a wonderful thing, and I want them to continue to speak for them, because few people speak for children like that.

I want, however, to speak more for the unremarkable children.  The children who seem "okay". 


Because I have a daughter like that too.

To meet my daughter, just superficially, you wouldn't likely guess she is different.  She is autistic, but her autism doesn't look the way most people think it "should".  She does make eye contact at times.  She does speak.  She shows affection and she understands language.  She is very smart - at not quite three years of age, she knows colors, letters, letter sounds, and even a few sight words.

She's fine!



She is a child that some look at and think, "Oh, she's fine.  She'll be fine." She's unremarkable.  She doesn't receive some of the attention that others do, and I'm speaking about therapists and professionals; some of whom see her and don't understand.

She's not fine.  That's not some weird wish on my part for her not to be fine.  Oh, yes.  I want her to be perfect and wonderful.  Of course, she is to us.  But the truth is, she's not fine.

Some people don't notice the way she uses language.  They laugh when she uses some overly-precocious saying, but what they don't realize is that she is only reciting something she's learned by rote, and using it in a way she's memorized.  It's not functional.

They don't see her when we take her shoes off and she cries if you leave one shoe on, and don't take the other one off.  They don't see her reliance upon routines to regulate herself.  Chelsea is a child who will cry in church when the congregation claps unexpectedly, or when people sing "Happy Birthday" to her in unison. 

They don't see her choke on a piece of pizza, or realize that she still cannot chew effectively or eat all age-appropriate things.  They don't see how often we have to feed her at home, because she still has trouble feeding herself.

They don't watch her in the church nursery as she goes off into a corner by herself and plays.  They label her "independent" but really, she is frightened of other children and pushes them away when they enter her space.  She doesn't like to make eye contact with people she doesn't know, and she needs to be reminded several times to say "goodbye" to a stranger or to greet a child. 

They don't see her on the playground, unable to use the equipment without help.  They don't see her struggle to hold a crayon or be unable to place a very small peg in a hole.

What they see is a child who is adorable, dressed in matching Gymboree outfits, who might smile and even say "hi" (if prompted) and begin to run (they don't know she started running less than 2 months ago) and play.  She is unremarkable.  She doesn't "look" like an autistic child.  They might offer her a bag of fruit snacks, not noticing that I clandestinely take them away from her because she can't chew them.  They don't see how she was asked to leave preschool because she couldn't manage to stop crying at all and couldn't participate with the other children.

When I see "Ian", I see a reasonably unremarkable child who could be forgotten because "he'll be fine.  Someone will adopt him.  He's young. He's not that sick.  He's not that needy."

They are all needy.  If you think that way, I pray that you reconsider. Every child without a home deserves one.  Boys, and "healthy" children, and not-so-healthy children, and truly sick children, and little girls. 

"He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.  He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.  (Isaiah 53).

Thank you for reading this, for following us, for praying for us, and for helping us bring a little "unremarkable" boy out of that Bad Place and into a home that is preparing to care for him. To us, he is just as remarkable as our daughter, and just as worthy to find a home in our family.

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