As I alluded to in my last post, we’ve started considering some new possibilities with our adoption. Our hope all along was to provide a home for the most “at risk” children–those who had very little likelihood of ever finding a family, and whose future without one seemed most dismal. We also have had to consider what needs we felt capable of dealing with. It seemed that HIV+ children were the best fit, and God has really given us a burden for these children.

A few weeks ago, though, a situation came to our attention that God used to broaden our horizon. There is a little boy in a Eastern European orphanage who has Down syndrome. He is extremely malnourished and undersized, and has spent all of nearly 3 years of life in crib, sedated with anti-psychotic drugs.  We saw his picture and heard his story and thought “maybe we can do this.” It was the first time we had really seriously considered a child with this type and severity of needs.

After several days of prayer, discussion, and research, we decided that we would move forward with his adoption unless God clearly closed the doors for us. Our homestudy was ready to be finalized, but our social worker agreed to another interview (via Skype, since we’re out of state right now) to assess our readiness to adopt a child with more significant needs than we had originally planned.

And then we received the clear direction we’d been seeking: another family stepped forward to adopt him. Although we were a little bit disappointed (it is SO hard to not get attached once you see a face!), we were grateful that he had a committed family and that we had the direction we’d wanted.

Through all this, though, we made the decision that we will seek the referral of a child with HIV OR Down syndrome. At this point it seems somewhat more likely that it will be Down syndrome, though we probably won’t know for sure until shortly before we travel in October or November.

There is still a great need for adoptive families for HIV+ children, but we’ve recently learned that there are more and more Ukrainian families stepping forward to adopt them, particularly the younger ones. There is also increased interest among Americans in adopting HIV+ children, and many of these families are starting to go to Eastern Europe.

On the other hand, from what we’ve learned, there is no place at all in Eastern European culture for people with significant developmental or physical disabilities. Almost all parents, upon finding out that their child is born with DS, surrender them to orphanages. There are no therapists, no special education programs, no long-term care provisions. Even parents who love their children deeply and would love to raise them are often forced to give them up because of the lack of support and resources. These children spend their first 4-6 years in baby orphanages, and are then transferred to mental institutions, where up to 90% of them do not even survive the first year.

It seems that there are many, many of these children awaiting adoptive families, and our process should move as quickly as it would for an HIV+ child. HIV is still a definite possibility for us, and hopefully we should know a little more in the next few months so we can best prepare ourselves.