Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our 15 minutes

When we arrived at the Billings airport on Wednesday, we were met by a reporter from KULR 8 News and another from the Billings Gazette.  Even though we'd been up for about 30 hours and at least *I* looked it, we answered their questions and tried to sound as chipper as we could.

Here's a link to the Billings Gazette article, "Miles City Family Adds 13th Child with Adoption of Chinese Girl."

And here's a link to the KULR 8 News story, "Girl with Down Syndrome Adopted from China."  (Click on "watch the video.")

There were a few errors in each, such as the KULR 8 reporter saying we had 13 kids already and were adding Thalia, and the newspaper story saying that kids in China end up in "insane asylums" at 16.  I was actually talking about the plight of Russian orphans at the time, and the fact that at age 4-6, they are moved from their fairly decent "baby houses" to adult mental institutions.  I said that most of these places were akin to the insane asylums in the US around the turn of the century - not good places.  She also reported that it takes 18-24 months to adopt a special needs child, when in reality it's 9-12.  I'm not sure where she got those numbers.

I was a little frustrated that certain parts were cut from the interviews, because the reason we agreed to do them was to help raise some awareness about special needs adoption, and about Down syndrome in particular.  We wanted people to be able to hear our story and think, "Hey, maybe I could do that, too!"  But they cut the parts where we talked about the financial help that's available, and the specifics about how to start.  I know they were thinking "human interest story," but we wanted it to be more practical.  Add to that the flack that we've gotten in the comments sections of both sites about why we didn't adopt from the US foster care program, and bleh...  I'm just not that excited about having done this.  Oh well. Live and learn.

For those who are curious about why we didn't adopt from foster care, here is my response:

1. We went where God led us, and that's really all there is to it.
2. We believe that God is "no respecter of persons;" He loves everyone equally and infinitely, and so should we. Although we like to think so, Americans don't hold a greater place in His heart. And James 1:27 is pretty clear about our responsibility to orphans.
3. The American foster care system, while admittedly flawed, is a thousand times better than any orphanage setting. Kids live in families, have food, clean water, clothing, medical and dental care, education, and ideally - love. Kids in orphanages in developing nations have few of those opportunities. In some of the worst places, they have virtually none.
4. Tagging onto number 3 above, it pains my heart that there are so many children in the US who suffer abuse and neglect and are removed from their homes of origin. I pray for them constantly. But I can't see what I've seen and not feel the need to prioritize a bit. Children in orphanages, especially the bad ones, are truly "the least of these." They need to be rescued from the circumstances they're in or chances are great that THEY WILL DIE. Those who survive live dismal, and short, lives because people with disabilities are not valued.
5. The several times we've inquired about children (especially hard-to-place sibling groups) in foster care, the usual response is no response, or we're told our family is too large. A friend of ours recently spent a year trying to find a foster care sibling group to adopt and had the same experiences - they were repeatedly ignored, turned down due to family size (their family is smaller than ours), or otherwise rejected. They finally did a private adoption recently. To reject larger families out-of-hand when there are so many kids who need homes is shameful, especially when those families tend to include experienced adoptive parents who are familiar with and accepting of the challenges that come with older child adoption.
6. And finally, my question to anyone who asks me why I haven't adopted foster children is, "How many have YOU adopted?" If the answer is none, you ain't got no business being critical of our decisions. ;) But really, point #1 is THE reason we've built our family the way we have.

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