This time two years ago our family was in the throws of the adoption process. Lots of paperwork, fundraising, and sleepless nights praying for our son. It was an intense time of watching God move on our behalf over and over. It was also a time of seeing the ugliness in people's hearts.
"Why would you want to adopt a retard?"
"That retarded child will ruin your family."
"That child is ineducable and will not fit into our society."
Those were common sentiments spoken to us directly. Not once did I waiver in my resolve to make Dima part of our family. The only way that the adoption would not have gone through is if his birth family had not wanted him to be adopted. As it turned out, however, they had no rights to him whatsoever due to severe abuse and neglect. Dima was in every sense of the word an orphan. Chances of him being adopted within the borders of his country were slim to none as it is difficult to care for a child with special needs due to lack of medical care, understanding of disabilities, and no hope for a future. Ukraine does not yet have many opportunities for individuals like Dima. I have hope, though, as I slowly see things changing there and for the better! I even toured a facility for children with special needs where various therapies are available! It was one of the first in all of Ukraine. But with Dima's orphan status he would have never had the opportunity to benefit from such care.
So Eric and I pressed on throughout the spring and summer of 2011 and were blessed with a wonderful little boy who has dramatically changed our lives for the better. Those that doubted watched form afar when Dima came home and really wanted nothing to do with him. Then we moved away. Sometimes I wonder if those doubting individuals ever stop by this blog to see just what is becoming of Dima. On the eleventh of this month Dima will have been home with us for nineteen months. So much change has occurred in his life and sometimes it is hard to believe that he was ever an orphan in another country!
Are you reading? Are you watching? Do you see God working in our lives?
So WHY would I want to adopt a retard? Because Dima, a boy with different abilities, needed us. Dima deserved to be part of a family. Why not ours? Most importantly, however, God put it on our hearts and He has never led us astray.
Has Dima RUINED our family? I don't think so. If anything, Dima has taught us patience, unconditional love, childlike faith, and perseverance. My biological boys are learning about compassion, patience, love, acceptance, and humor in all situations. Most of all we are all learning to love others just as Jesus loves us. Does it sound like it ruined our family?
That child is INEDUCABLE? Hardly! Dima has learned to speak English in a mere nineteen months and is learning ASL (which would make him quad-lingual, by the way; how many languages do you know?). He is in second grade, only one grade level behind where he is supposed to be and had straight A's this past marking period! In fact, he has never had any grade on his report card that was below a B! He adds and subtracts simple numbers with visual assistance, he writes his full name and can recognize it when it is put before him, and he is able to choose words that rhyme. Oh yeah, and he just learned how to tell hourly time. That is just a short list of all that he can do. Ineducable indeed!
And as far as fitting into our society we live in a county where individuals like Dima are commonplace. Thanks to the Key Training Center many families that have individuals with special needs live here and I see these amazing people just about anywhere I go each and every day. At school Dima is a rock star and everyone knows him and likes him. Whenever I go in to see the boys at lunch every child that walks by Dima says, "HI DIMA!". So yeah, I think people like him.
It is my sincere hope that your prejudices against Dima are being challenged and that you can see God working and moving in that child's life. And not just Dima's life, but our lives, too.
We are, after all, called (no, commanded!) to love all people as Jesus loves us!
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. -Mark 12:30-31