Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A defense of supporting adoptions

"Do you have any idea how many people you could help with that money? You're wasting it on one child!"

"I only give to local charities or my local church since the Bible says to. So I cannot support your foreign adoption."

"Why should I help you expand your family?"

"If you can't come up with your adoption fees ($25,000) on your own then you shouldn't be adopting. You should provide for your own child not ask others to."

"Children are better in their home country, even in institutions. You should give that money to the country instead."

These are some of the things that have been said to me after we decided to adopt a child with arthrogryposis and save him from transfer to an institution. In this blog post I hope to shed light on why I believe with my whole being that adoption should be supported.

"Do you have any idea how many people you could help with that money? You're wasting it on one child!"

I hope to argue that an investment into an orphan's life, foreign or not, is a valid investment that is not inferior to a charitable act which spreads the financial net a bit wider to help many. I consider both not only valid, but also on equal footing.

My husband and I support the efforts of AMF (Against Malaria Foundation) to provide malaria nets to those who live in malaria infested parts of the world. Statistically for every $2,000 given to AMF, one life is saved from the deadly malaria virus. We found out about this through GiveWell, a website who reviews charities and shows a top list of those who do the most good with your dollar. This appealed to us greatly since although you cannot put value on a human life, you can put a dollar amount to saving one human life: $2,000.

Feeding America is another charity that has my heart. Because of pooling their resources they say for every $1 donated to their cause they can turn that into 8 meals for hungry families. Personally I like Feeding America because it meets a very basic need in my own community.

My two examples are suppose to show that money donated to great causes can ease the suffering of many people, maybe even save a few lives. So how is that not superior to pouring $25,000 (the cost of our adoption) into one life? An excellent question for the philanthropist.

Firstly there must be some consideration to the longevity of giving. One meal feeds one person one time. One mosquito net covers one family's bed until that net is destroyed by daily use. Giving a child a lifelong home, parents, medical treatment, therapies and an education has a lasting positive impact that can't be easily quantified. Children who go on to be contributing members of (a wealthier) society, generate income and help support others cannot be overvalued. Because of the situation in Eastern Europe an institutionalized child goes from being a drain on society and having zero potential to having unlimited potential once adopted. Because it is hard to quantify the potential of this adopted child it is hard to argue charitable giving towards adoption as more valuable than charitable giving to a broader source. But that is my point exactly: $25,000 can save 12.5 people from malaria. $25,000 can save one child, plus any others he has the potential of helping in his lifetime. And that could be less than 12.5 or many, many more.

"I only give to local charities or my church since the Bible says to. So I cannot support your foreign adoption."

I appreciate the idea that one saves their money to support their immediate family first, then the community around them, and then, in an ever-widening circle, strangers in foreign countries. But I also believe we should reverse that circle of support when the poverty of strangers is vastly greater to our own. (I'm assuming my readers' families are not starving.) The Bible text that was referenced during this conversation was 1 Timothy 5:8 which says, "Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

In the context of 1 Timothy 5:8 they are discussing who should care for the widows in their community. They conclude that this falls to the children and grandchildren of these widows, and if a widow has no children, then the church community will care for her. In other words, a person who lives as he pleases while his widowed mother is suffering in poverty is a bad person. Paul implies that even the unbelievers know how to take care of their own mothers.

What is not stated here is the exclusion of helping foreigners. 1 Timothy 5:8 only applies to my adoption if I chose to start the adoption process while my widowed mother or grandmother was suffering financially.

As far as the Bible stating to support "your own" (the Greek word for household there is oikeios but can imply your own local charities, groups, people of the same faith, or blood relatives), I have found that is true, but not to the exclusion of foreign aid. (In fact God's heart is with the foreigner as I will attempt to prove shortly.) In the early church there was a structure in place kind of like communism on a small scale and Paul sums up how it worked beautifully in 2 Corinthians 8:

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.

A lot of giving in the Bible (New Testament) has to do with this set up. Although we do not hold this kind of set up in churches today I do see many good people supporting those in need in their communities.

As for God's laws regarding the foreigner, the conversation moves beyond a few epistles and goes all throughout Scripture. In fact God demands care for the foreigner and the orphan in many of the same passages. The foreigner is sometimes called "the alien" or "the stranger." The orphan is sometimes called "the fatherless" and can be a foreigner or a local member of the community.

(I include a lot of Scripture to make a point about what the Bible actually teaches regarding my foreign adoption. Feel free to skip or skim.)

Deuteronomy 10:18 - He (God) executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the foreigner by giving him food and clothing.

Deuteronomy 14:29 - The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the foreigner, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

Deuteronomy 16:11 - And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite who is in your town, and the stranger (foreigner) and the orphan and the widow who are in your midst, in the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name.

Deuteronomy 16: 14 - And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger (foreigner) and the orphan and widow who are in your town.

Deuteronomy 24:17 - You shall not pervert the justice due a foreigner or an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge.
Deuteronomy 24:19-21 - When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the foreigner, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the foreigner, for the orphan, and for the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not go over it again; it shall be for the foreigner, for the orphan, and for the widow.

Deuteronomy 26:12-13 - When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. You shall say before the Lord your God, “I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.”

Deuteronomy 27:19 - “Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, orphan, and widow.” And all the people shall say, “Amen.”

Jeremiah 7:5-7 - For if you truly amend your ways and your deed, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave your father forever and ever.

Jeremiah 22:3 - Thus says the Lord, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”

Zechariah 7:10 - And do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.

Malachi 3:5 - "Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the Lord of hosts.

Psalm 146:9 - The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked.

(Okay I'm done.)

Everyone will pick and choose between foreign support and local support depending on what they value and who can use the most help. I'm not really here to advocate one over the other. But I do believe the heart of God is clearly for the orphan, the widow and the foreigner. My adopted son fits two of these three categories. Soon he'll fit none of those categories as God intended.

Moving on.

"Why should I help you expand your family?"

If you are part of a belief system that obeys the Bible then you are commanded to help the orphan and the foreigner, also the poor and the hungry. My son fits all those categories so is an excellent choice. (We're fully funded by the way, this was something asked a while back.) If I'm in your local church community it would be a biblical example played out. If you hold no spiritual beliefs then I could argue adoption as a way to better our community due to the cultural flavor my son brings to it. He also informs others about what family really means. And having physical disabilities, as has been argued, can help others in the areas of understanding, acceptance, compassion, perspective and responsibility. All in all I never thought fundraising for my adoption was a selfish act, nor do I expect everyone to help. But having people be offended at my fundraising baffles me. Why should you help bring my son home? For the same reason you should do any good thing. That's all. Don't then.

"If you can't come up with your adoption fees ($25,000) on your own then you shouldn't be adopting. You should provide for your own child not ask others to."

Ah yes, the "only rich people should adopt" mentality. I've also heard, "Fundraising for your adoption is just like welfare," and "If you can't come up with the money for your own child then you shouldn't be adopting at all. Period." Of all the above statements/questions I'm responding to in this post, this is the only one that was said unkindly. So as a lawyer would approach a hostile witness, I feel free to be blunt.

First let's define our terms. You may define "rich" differently depending on how much money you have. But let's put it this way, it costs between $25,000 to $45,000 for a foreign adoption. If you make $25,000 a year you are in the top 10% of the wealthiest people on earth. If you make $35,000 a year, congrats and welcome to the top 5%. $45,000 would put you in the top 1.72% of the richest people on earth. Do you get where I'm going with this? Coming up with a year's income in order to have a child qualifies you as a rich person.

So the above statement really boils down to this: Only rich people should adopt.

So far no one has come out to me and said this, but it's easily inferred.

We in the adoption community jokingly refer to the initial costs/fees of adoption as the "ransom." We don't have it, but we have a limited time to come up with it. And they have our child. Now I'm not here to defend how the money is used by lawyers or foreign governments, or to say there are no abuses in the system, but rest assured the price of adoption fees will not be going down, and they are necessary to move a child's life, residential status and future to an entirely different country. Not having this initial sum does not mean we cannot support a child, even one with extreme medical needs. In fact a homestudy must be done that assesses the financial stability, overall health, home situation and emotional maturity of both adoptive parents by a licensed social worker. After we've been stripped down and laid bare by professionals (over a period of weeks or months), I'm hard pressed to hear we're unworthy by anonymous people on the Internet.

So those who do not believe we should adopt because we "cannot provide" are not accurate since we have been vetted. But really the issue is that we did not pull out of our pocket the entire ransom for our son which only the top few wealthiest people on the planet could. (In our case we did empty our savings account, get a temporary second job and budget for a while so harshly that we couldn't buy milk or bread. That last sacrifice didn't last, but a healthy budget is in place now.)

Tell me something. Should minorities not have children? Should those making less than $30,000 not be allowed to become pregnant? Does equality matter? Does family matter? Are children dying in institutions for lack of parents important? I'm not saying you will agree with me on all these issues, but I'm saying a disagreement shows a prejudice I cannot begin to reason with.

The rich get all the breaks.

"Children are better in their home country, even in institutions. You should give that money to the country instead."

And lastly, there's this statement, "Children are better where they are." It was said simply, gently and thoughtfully, which just made it worse. I've found that people who say this have never done an in-depth study on my son's situation. Allow me to illuminate his situation.

You've probably read blogs about the torture that goes on over in Eastern Europe to those with disabilities, maybe you've seen a video about it, maybe you've read about a life saved from it or maybe you know nothing at all. I can't begin to go into all the abuses happening over there, or even point out which orphanages are doing it better or worse, but I can give you a picture of it using my own son's example.

When my son turns five years old (maybe four, maybe three, or in one case I read about, two) he will be put in a car and driven screaming and crying or quiet and terrified to an adult mental institution out in the country where no one visits and no one has to deal with the imperfect people who live there. Now my son does not have any mental disabilities, but this is where people in EE who look different are thrown away. It's a system so mired in political and social gunk that fixing it seems impossible, although there are small efforts to do so. As it stands now, only adoption can save these kids from this fate. Children transferred to the institution have PTSD, they are not held, they are tied down in cribs (even into their teens) and changed once a day. Sometimes not changed on weekends. They have sores from lying in their own urine and feces. They have no one to talk to. They chew on their hands and arms and rock themselves for stimulation. They are fed what amounts to a cabbage stew crammed down their throats. Some institutions are better and some are worse, but the term "good institution" is an oxymoron. I've heard statistics from 85%-95% of children who are transferred die within the first 12-18 months. I hear it's the higher percentage if you have Down's syndrome. They are buried in the backyard.

In a provocative work called, "Death Camps for Children" those who have been to these places (that still exist even years later) report what they've seen:

“When we arrived at the orphanage we were met by older children without coats, they were begging us to give things to them and not to the directors. It is very hard to write about the rest of this part of the trip. I cannot give a step by step account because we were all in a state of shock. We spoke to the director about our program and he told us that he knows the children need more but he said, ‘I cannot ask my workers to do more, they work very hard, clearing the road, shoveling snow, cleaning the floors and the children, they have not time, they must work very hard all day and then they must dig graves and bury children.’ What do you say to that? Still, the staff took us around to show us how it is. Words don’t come to mind, most of our team was crying and could not stop. Dark hallways, screaming, children clustered together in freezing rooms, some in strait-jackets, haunted looking crying, asking if they were good, asking for food. Water dripping from the dark ceilings, mold everywhere. We held children who were 10 and 13 years old in our arms like infants. One team member said later that she never knew that humans are like fish and will only grow to the size of their environment. One team member threw up outside. Children never leave their beds in some rooms. These children are ages 4-16. In other rooms they leave to go to a room with just a bench and nothing else in it. They hold each other -rocking one another. I have never seen such deprivation and our photographer said it best when he said it was a concentration camp for children. Sorry, this is such a hard part to write but I looked in the eyes of many children who are dying. Their tiny bones fit into the palm of my hands. Their skeleton faces begging for help. No one in our team has really slept since. We talk about it but just end up in tears. I promised the orphanage staff we would come back with a team of people to help them. They are counting on it. The director told one team member that 20 years ago he asked for help there and the soviet minister came and visited. The visiting soviet minister told the director, ‘why do you keep these animals alive? You can kill them, you know how to do it you are a doctor.’ He never sent any money or aid to the orphanage.” (

For those who say to leave them where they are, because even if their own society does not consider them fully human it's better for them somehow, I leave you with these images from

But it's a situation not without hope. Here's some hope from one of my favorite adoption blogs.

This is ten year old Katy suffering in her institution. (She weighed 10 pounds.)

This is Katy six months after being adopted. (She's up to 27 pounds.)
So you tell me, should we leave them there?

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Got word this morning that we are officially submitted!!! *happy dance*

Remember the post when we said we were done? Well, all our stuff was sent off and we've been done with our part, but our wonderful team in U has been working hard. They took our 48 documents (totaling over 150 pages) and translated it all. Then they bound it into a ~350 page book and stitched it together by hand. Our adoption is now in the hands of the U government! As of TODAY!!

Now we wait.

I didn't know waiting would be the hard part, but it kinda is. Mostly we're waiting on a paper system that's antiquated (think America in the 1950s) and done by hand in books in filing cabinets. One of the other moms took a picture of the binders of books during her DAP appointment and found out that they weren't backups, but they were originals! No computer. No fast paced process. But a personal process. A beautiful by-hand, poured over and personalized process.

A slooooooooooooooooooooow process. *being dramatic*

Don't they understand that I'm ready to go RIGHT NOW. To quote RR, "This is THE hardest part about the entire process…you’ve been approved! Your child is waiting! YOU are waiting! Why can’t they hurry up? Don’t they understand? Believe me, we have all been through this."

Yeah, waiting. Still waiting. Going insane... ;)

We should get a travel date in 7 to 8 weeks from today.

*insert whiny voice* But I want it now!  (This process has turned me into Veruca Salt.)

In exciting news I found out we were submitted at the same time as two other families. Travel buddies! I may get to see the adoption/rescue of two other boys from their institutions!

This is Ryan. He has noonan syndrome.

This is Josiah. He has down's syndrome.

Our son has arthrogryposis, but none of these three conditions should ever land a child in an institution. Holy Moses NO NO NO. Just look at these guys! How? Why?! What?!

*breathing again*

But I can't wait to meet their mommies!

I'm not looking forward to the traveling part, but I am looking forward to the this-being-all-over part. Soon these crazy adoption pregnancy pains will be over and I'll be looking into my son's eyes. 


At this rate I should get him home right before he turns two!

This process went reasonably fast because we had support from YOU. You did this! I know families who had to wait to apostille documents or pay for fees, but we were completely blessed by our friends and family and buddies on the interwebs. I can't thank you all enough. Some delays took place that were going to happen anyway, but no delay happened due to financial lack. Wow. Thank you so so so much. The twelve billion future pictures of Roland will be dedicated to you all. :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Roland's crib

Grandma and Grandpa stayed with us this last week to help get things ready for Roland. We talked about where to put him and decided to put him in Laelia’s room since he’s coming from an orphanage where he’s used to (and comforted by) sleeping with other kids. Once he’s ready we’ll move him to his own room. In the meantime Laelia has been super excited about having her baby brother in her room. We cleaned it all out to make room and changed the colors from pink to red.

The cleaning process. Laelia is not helping. :)

I hope to switch out the curtains to something more true red or neon green to match the rest of the room, but for now it's done. I found out that I'm dangerous with a can of red paint. :)

Roland's crib! My dad took it apart and made it shorter so it would fit in the space. Notice the dangling toys that will work as Roland's OT for the first few weeks. And this was my first time with a stencil and paint so I realize the letters are all doing their own thing.

Goofy pictures of all three of us. Can't wait to get this little boy home and take more pictures!

I painted the mirror and top of the stuffed animal bin. I also switched out the pink girlie baskets in the bookcase for red ones.

Here's the whole room! Roland's crib is to the right. I painted the knobs to all the dressers.

My dad put in a ceiling fan since it's getting hotter. I added the red.

It's all done and ready for Roland! Eight more weeks?!! Come on!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I found out today that Mother's Day is celebrated on May 13th in my son's birth country. There's a woman out there who gave birth to my son who is most likely seeing others around her celebrate being moms. Wow. What could she be feeling? Adoption by it's very nature is a blessing that comes from trauma. Many who give up their children for different reasons like poverty or because that child has a disability can still visit them in the baby house. I wonder if she's fighting with herself to visit? I wonder if she hasn't given her decision another thought, for her own sanity, until this day popped up. She can't know I exist. It will be two more months before I'm even allowed to travel there. Does it eat at her that he's still without a mother? Does she know how thankful I am for her?

Will she ever know that her little Yehorchyk is my precious, beloved Roland?

Once there were two women who never knew each other.
One you do not remember, the other you call Mother.
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life and the second taught you to live in it.
The first gave you a need for love and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality, the other gave you a name,
One gave you the seed of a talent the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions, the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile, the other dried your tears.
One gave you up--it was all that she could do.
The other prayed for a child, and God led her straight to you.
And now you ask me through your tears, the age old questions through the years,
Heredity or Environment--which are you the product of'
Neither my darling-neither; just two different kinds of love.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's all done. We're done!!!

When I was 15 I got my driver's permit. It was a piece of paper that allowed me to drive. It was the most amazing document in my little world, and it was on a flimsy piece of paper of all things. I remember on the drive back from the DMV (yeah, did mom let me drive? nope) I worried about how to hold it in my hands. I was worried I would wrinkle it and then not be able to drive. And I was so nervous I was sweating on it! Eep! So I switched it from hand to hand as I studiously wiped the other. I didn't even notice that we had made a quick trip to the thrift store where both my grandmothers worked on our way home.

We walked in the thrift store (Snowline Hospice) and MY MOM MADE ME LEAVE MY PRECIOUS PAPER IN THE CAR. I stressed over where to hide it. I worried about thieves breaking into our car while we stood a few feet away. All of my thoughts, heck, my whole psychic being was focused on our car where "the precious" waited for me hidden under the passenger floor mat. (Because the glove box would be the first place they'd look!)

These were the thoughts going through my head as I waited for my husband today in the Postal Annex parking lot. For one thing like five people walked past who all looked like car thieves, so I can hardly be blamed. ;) I held every document I had collected over the last four months, minus what we'd already sent to my son's home country, in my arms. It was my life on flimsy paper. We'd had almost 50 documents notarized, driven to L.A. to be apostilled, and scanned for verification several times. The medical forms had to be redone twice, the tax forms twice, my employee form had to be redone three times, our homestudy changed, etc. This represented the last of it, all fixed and pretty. And it was all on flimsy pieces of paper. And I was sweating.

I kissed it before I mailed it. It was part of the official directions I was given, for luck. ;) I prayed silently over it, but my thoughts were so stressed I could just think, "Uggggggggggggggggh!!!" I'm sure God interprets crazy. ;)

We mailed it.

It should arrive next week.

It will take at least two weeks to translate and make it official.

Then we wait (oh so) patiently until they let us travel. We're hoping either late June or early July, but it depends on their whim.

It's done. *passes out*


And even though I owe so many people for helping us through this process, this shout out goes to Nancy. If not for Nancy, our state side adoption helper, we would be so overwhelmed by this process. Both my daughter and husband had major surgeries during this paper chase, and we had major delays of the random variety. It put this whole process about a month later than we'd hoped. But Nancy never let us stop. In fact she was famous for these kinds of back and forth correspondences:

Me: Hey Nancy, we just got our marriage licenses! I drove to Placerville to pick them up. Then I drove to L.A. to get them apostilled! (Several paragraphs of that process/headache deleted for space.) But now we finally have them! Yay!

Nancy: Great! Now where are you on these? (Sends list of A BILLION other documents.)


In fact last month I sent her this artful rendering of herself entitled, "Nancy is the best." I include it here for your enjoyment.

Thanks Nancy!