Friday, March 29, 2013

Family - every child's right

"Growing up in a family is a child’s most basic human right."
 
 As I scooped up my kicking, screaming 2 year old and cradled her in my arms... I could feel her body tense up. She began to pull my hair, scratch and bite me.   I took a couple deep breaths, forced a smile and looked into her defiant eyes.  Beneath those eyes was a little girl that was taught to fight and fight until she got what she wanted.  I held her close until she finally melted into my arms, calmed down and immediately apologized on her own for her bad attitude... suddenly, my mind began to recall pictures of all of the beautiful faces that I saw last night on the movie
 "Stuck." - produced by the - Both Ends Burning Campaign  A film that MUST be watched.   The purpose of the movie is to promote awareness and create a movement towards the International Adoption crisis. It features adoptive families that are stuck waiting for paperwork to be released, reviewed, approved and orphaned children stuck in institutional care waiting to be loved and released to their appointed families. 

" Growing up in a family is a child’s most basic human right. Today that basic human right is denied, in many cases, simply due to a dysfunctional adoption system. Both Ends Burning works to protect and advocate for the rights of orphaned children in an effort to minimize the devastating effects of institutionalization, while stressing the importance of protecting birth parents and ensuring that proper safeguards are in place for the children." - Both Ends Burning Campaign

After watching the movie, I had flashbacks of our adoption process. 13 months of time spent choosing our agency, getting accepted, home study after home study , fingerprints, mountains of paperwork, waiting for approval and then waiting in excitement for "the phone call," - our referral.
$25,000 later and 10 months on the waiting list... we suddenly felt the desperateness of thousands of children in urgent need for a family... why where WE waiting SO long?
Then it happened on a Tuesday morning when I glanced over 4 children on our agency's waiting list. Suddenly time stopped... "Who would take 4? What's their story? Could they be our children?... " I scrolled past more faces of children waiting... waiting for families, waiting to be loved, cared for... by a forever family.  I went back to our 4 children... -  I immediately noticed our son, Stephen's age... 13 years old.  How many of those years did he experience neglect, malnutrition, lack of education, social development etc.?  13 years.  This was enough for us to say " yes." -  we couldn't stand the thought of glancing over his picture and have him continue to wait. He only had 3 more years before he would age out of the system.

Even though Stephen lacked much... he NEVER lacked the desire for a family. He says,
" Everyone needs a family... I always prayed that God would bring me a family." 

Prior to our children's homecoming, several friends assured me that our 2 year old would be the easiest to adapt and attach to. 
Unfortunately, she has and still struggles to accept us as her new parents.
I'm okay with it.  We will persist in loving her and nurturing her little body back to health.
She was never held like a baby.  She never experienced the healthy, tender loving touch from a mother. She never had a father to snuggle with, throw her up in the air and catch her with his strong, loving hands.  By the age of 1 to 2, she was forced to survive, act like a teenager and learn to fight for whatever she needed.  Until now, our little girl still thinks she has to fight. 

Our 11 year old son never experienced the love from a mother and a father.  His explanation of his poor behavior is that he always got to do whatever he wanted to do.  Basically, he just learned to survive. 
The Both Ends Burning Campaign states:

" Cross-cultural studies of children have found that the length of time spent in conditions of social deprivation, like orphanages, correlates with a wide array of psychological and developmental challenges."  

Unfortunately, our son is barely at the reading level of a 2nd grader with the emotional capacity of a 3 year old.  We can only cling on to the hope that God can and will heal him... perhaps through the love and security from our family.
11 years... - how many other 11 year old boys are still institutionalized because of the adoption bureaucracy or parent's fears of adopting an older child?  I know... the challenges are overwhelming. Perhaps I've scared several families from adopting. It's okay - because not everyone should adopt. But isn't every child worth fighting for? Doesn't every child deserve the love and security of a family?  Shouldn't we ALL fight for children's rights to a family?

I couldn't help but smile as I watched my 8 year old daughter splashing her way around the swimming pool. She was like a kid in a candy store.  I remember the first time we brought her swimming.  The numerous fears she had. The lack of trust she had in us.  We laughed and joked about it... it was a distant memory that has now faded into the background.  Healing.  She is slowly but surely healing.  Our Mount Everest - I refuse to stop climbing.  I will not give up on loving her, nurturing her, walking with her through her painful yet hopeful journey.  Just like her siblings, she is and has always been worth fighting for. 

Just like every other adoptive family, we have our own "stuck" story .   Why DOES it have to be so hard, so complicated and so expensive?  Yes, children are worth the hard, the complicated and should NEVER come with a price tag because they are priceless... so shouldn't WE advocate for changes to be made for MORE adoptions to take place so that MORE children can be released from institutions and adopted into families?

Please sign the petition to support and promote policy changes within International adoption and if you already haven't watched the movie, " Stuck." - please watch it!
Remember, EVERY child deserves the right to a family.

6 comments:

  1. I find your blog refreshing, the true love for orphans but the honest truths about adoption and how difficult it is. You could say I am always on a quest for those willing to put the hard, honest truths in adoption, which is something I told myself I ONLY do on my own blog! Thanks for that! It makes me remember I am not alone!

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  2. Please know your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

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  3. Beautifully written. My son is 15 years old and still stuck, waiting for us. He's been waiting for us for five years. He's got 7 months left to be adopted internationally, yet still each little step takes so incredibly long. No one seems to be in any kind of hurry for him, besides us. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. So true! Adoption is not for everyone. But to the ones chosenby God to adopt what a blessing it is! You are forging a crown of glory. Press on!
    Jt

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  5. What an inspiration you guys are. We have an adopted daughter from China who is now 7 yrs. old. She lights our world everyday. I love watching her grow and change. God has blessed us so much with a compassionate and loving daugher. Her father just left us and it has devastated us both but with the power of pray and my savior she will be okay.

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    1. I'm so so sorry for what you and your daughter are going through. May He give you both the strength, the hope and the grace to make it through it each day. He is still writing your story - don't lose hope. 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 just came to me for you. Although I don't know you, we are running "this race" together! Blessings to you!

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