Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Why Are We Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome?

I have pondered how I was going to answer this question for weeks now.  The answer is so simple, yet not so easy to explain.  So here is my attempt to adequately share my heart with you all.

When Eric and I decided that we wanted to adopt we had originally thought of doing a domestic adoption and had not even considered a child with special needs.  After all we have 3 boys of our own to think of and we didn't want to harm them in any way.  Sounds good, right?  But then we began to pray in earnest about our future adoption plans, that God would guide us and lead us to the right agency which in turn would lead us to our future son (we always knew we wanted 4 boys).

Not too long after that my friend, Lindy, whom I have know for almost 10 years announced that she and her husband were adopting a little boy from Eastern Europe- and he has special needs.  I totally confess that at first I thought she was nuts.  She, too, has 3 children of her own to think of and she has to homeschool and her husband is in full-time ministry, and on and on and on.  All I could think about were the negatives of their decision.  Yet I rejoiced for and with her and asked about Reece's Rainbow.  There was a tiny part of me that was curious.

So Lindy began to share about children with special needs in that area of the world (Eastern Europe).  It was like a bad car wreck you see on the side of the road- it is something awful but you cannot help but gawk and look.  You see, children with Down Syndrome or any other special need for that matter, are considered "defective" and are either aborted before they even have the chance to arrive into this world (I call that MURDER) or are born and put away into an orphanage where they are kept hidden away as if they were some sort of monster.  When the children turn 4 they are then taken from the the orphanages and put into mental institutions.  MENTAL INSTITUTIONS.  And I am not talking about institutions that are kept clean and are held to some sort of standard, I am talking about institutions where in many cases the conditions have not been improved in 150 years.  Can you imagine what that must be like for a child let alone a child that really has no way of fully understanding why they are there?  To put it bluntly, it must be a living hell for them.

As a mother to 3 healthy, intelligent, happy, and active boys, my heart was sickened.  Suddenly so many things that were so "urgent" or "important" were not so important anymore.  I suddenly felt God humbling me and urging me to pray about what I had learned.  I knew that if it were one of MY boys in that situation I would move heaven and earth to save them and bring them home.  I would use every last penny to get to them and rescue them from that nightmare.  So why not one of those children?  Sure, I could probably list a trillion reasons as to why Eric and I should not adopt a child with Down Syndrome and Lord knows that some people have offered their well meaning opinions on the matter, but ultimately what it comes down to is what is GOD is asking Eric and I to do about it.

It is no secret that Eric and I are Christians that tend to live life to the fullest.  Some of you will know what I mean when I say that.  But in other words our faith is black and white and hardly has any shades of gray.  With Eric and I it is all or nothing.  So when I shared with Eric the information that I had about these children, he, too, saw that there was a need.  We prayed.  We looked at Scripture.  We asked some friends to pray for us.  We prayed some more.

God's Word is very clear on what Christians are to do about orphans.  God, the creator of the universe, cares so much for orphans and desires that they are all taken care of and placed into loving homes.  Perhaps the most quoted verse (as far as I can tell) on orphans is the following:

Pure religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27 (NIV).

I read that verse and thought about for quite sometime.  How often have I heard that "Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites"?  Too many times to keep count.  But after I read James 1:27 that is the phrase that kept popping into my head.  If Eric and I ignore this nudge from God we are no better than the hypocrites.  Wow.  Is that what Eric and I wanted?  Is that what we wanted to emulate for our boys?  No!  Eric and I want to teach our boys to love those that are unlovable, to pray for people, to put action behind their faith; faith without works is dead.  Not that one is saved by action, but if we just simply say that we are a Christian and do nothing to show for it, then how are we backing up our words?

So I was on a search for Scripture that supports why we should adopt, moreover, why we should adopt a child with Down Syndrome.  As I was looking at the Reece's Rainbow website I came across a list of Scriptures that support WHY one should adopt.  Here is the list:

A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.  God sets the lonely in families.  Psalms 68:5-6
He defends the cause of the fatherless.  Deuteronomy 10:18
In you the fatherless find mercy.  Hosea 14:4
You are the helpers of the fatherless.  Psalm 10:14
It is not the will of your Father that one of these little ones should perish.  Matthew 18:14
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.  James 1:27 - Sound familiar?
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Luke 18:16
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  John 14:18
Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.  Matthew 18:5
And Jesus took the children in his arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them.  Mark 10:16
Remember those…who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.   Hebrews 13:3
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us…let us not love with word or tongue, but with action and in truth.  I John 3:16-18
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.   Matthew 25:35
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…defend the rights of the needy.   Proverbs 31:8,9
He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me, declares the Lord. Jeremiah 22:16

Another Scripture that was shared with me is Proverbs 24:12.  It is the Scripture that I have on the title of our blog.  Do you see it?  Do you see what it says?  Basically God will hold each of accountable for what we know.  God knows my heart.  He knows that I know that there are children suffering and need a home.  If I have that knowledge and do nothing, nothing at all I am being disobedient.  Eric and I were going to adopt anyway, right?  God also asks us to treat the least of these with love and mercy.  These little children in Eastern Europe are most certainly considered "the least of these" in their own countries.  Again, I know this and God knows I know.  Do you understand where I am going with this?  Basically God is asking Eric and I to step out in faith and welcome one of these little ones into our home.  Some of you may not agree and that is O.K.  But that will not negate what God has asked us to do.

Can we save them all?  Hardly.  But we CAN save one. We can make the difference in the life of one little boy whose family decided that they could not handle taking care of him.  Eric, the boys, and I certainly have the love to give and the ability to care for another child, but again, so many ask why.  Why a child on the other side of the world with Down Syndrome of all things when there are so many children here in our own country that need a forever family?  Surely you should give preference to children in your own country; children that are not "defective".

Because 70% of the Eastern European children that are transferred from an orphanage to a mental institution die within the first year due to the shear trauma of it all. The remaining 30% either die soon after the first year or live out their miserables lives alone and forgotten.  That is a living nightmare that no human should ever have to endure.  With that knowledge alone it is a "no brainer" for Eric and I.  If you want to know what life is truly like in these institutions, you can watch a video about the institutions in Serbia.  Or you can ask this mother.  Her son lived an institution, but this amazing woman and her husband heeded God's call and saved their son, Aaron, from certain death.

Our son is a happy, healthy, high functioning little boy with Down Syndrome.  He deserves to live in a real home, with a Mama and a Papa who will love him for who he is and brothers that will spoil him with attention.  Our son deserves to be brought up in the church where he will have many friends and have fun learning about God.  Our son, just as all children, deserves to LIVE.

Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18:13 (ASV)

1 comment:

Laurie said...

So well put.
As a mother of a child with Ds, I can tell you that although the diagnosis is scary at first, you will (and you may have already) come to see that truly, beyond a doubt, Dima will bless your lives more than you can ever possibly know. My son Chase floored us with his extra chromosome- we didn't know what to do, what to to handle anything- and now, I cannot begin to imagine life without him, or what he has taught us. We are better people because of Chase. His brothers are better brothers because of him. We are the ones who are gifted to have him in our lives. Oh! I am so excited to see how Dima's life intertwines with yours!