Monday, August 3, 2009

Around the World

Hopefully my posts will answer some questions I know many people have about our decision to adopt. I'm also hopeful that it will raise awareness and serve to advocate for growing families through adoption. So that being said, I wanted to start by explaining our decision to adopt internationally.

True confession time. I never thought we would adopt internationally. I always said, "There are so many children suffering in America, why would we go to another country to adopt?" Not that I disagreed with international adoption at all, but my personal experiences just led me to feel strongly about domestic adoption. You see, I've been a social worker for almost 10 years. I've seen more than enough abused and neglected children right here in the U.S. So it was hard for me to understand going around the world to adopt a child. But then we started researching waiting children with Down Syndrome. When we learned that there are over 200 families on the waiting list to adopt a child with Down Syndrome in the U.S., our focus turned to international adoption. The statistics on orphans with Down Syndrome in other countries were absolutely staggering. Here are a few that I gathered on various humanitarian organizations' websites.
  • There are 700,000 orphans in the country from which we are adopting, including "typical" children and those with special needs.
  • Statistically, 1 in 733 live births results in a child with Down Syndrome, therefore there are approximately 955 children in the country from which we are adopting with DS who are orphans.
  • There is no place in society for these children who are seen as "defective." They are put into orphanages by their families out of shame and fear. 90-95% of these orphans have at least one living parent and sometimes an entire family. Doctors typically advise the families to give the children up because of the widespread belief that these children will not be able to be contributing members of society.
  • Children with special needs are allowed to stay in "baby houses" until they are 4 years old. Then they are transferred to state mental institutions or special orphanages for children with disabilities. Once they are transferred, they are no longer eligible to be adopted.
  • 85% of these children die within the first year of being transferred due to the lack of proper medical care, nutrition or LOVE.

Below is a video expose' that I found on orphans in mental institutions in Serbia. Although we are not adopting from Serbia, the conditions shown are very similar in many Eastern European countries. If you choose to watch this video, please be prepared for some heartbreaking graphic images of less than humane conditions.

We have been told to expect a negative response to us when we walk the streets with our child when we go to pick him up. We have been told that complete strangers may come up and chastise us for having our child in public. I just can't imagine living in a society where humans with disabilities are seen as disgraceful, disposable and social outcasts. This is one of the most compelling reasons we had for choosing international adoption.


  1. Okay, for all future posts, I will go grab a tissue before reading. You have made me cry every single time. I'm so proud of y'all. Wow! That was truly heart wrenching. Bless you, Tesney! We will pray and pray for this to go quickly.

  2. Sorry Holly! I hope there are some funny stories to post on here as well...otherwise, it wouldn't really be "me" now would it???

  3. I am basically dumbfounded after watching that video... I knew it already but hadn't seen footage quite like that. My name is Michelle and we adopted our daughter Mary last year, actually brought her home on Christmas Day :) You are welcome to visit our blog and come see how she's doing now. She was headed to an institution because of her CP and delays... which is just, well its unimaginable. In fact, there is a video of her on the blog right now of her at karate class. :)

    God goes before you... you are doing Kingdom work. Be blessed.

  4. Tesney, I think what you and Greg are doing is amazing! My husband's sister and her husband are in China right now, picking up our new nephew, so international adoption is near and dear to my heart.

    BTW, we were at Harding at the same time, but I don't think our paths crossed. I'm glad to find you in the blog world!

    Looking forward to reading more about Sarge.

  5. Great explanation. Thanks for sharing all of that!

  6. wow-that was a tough video clip. Thank you for the explanation!

  7. Tes, hope all is well with you and hope the adoption process is going as well also. My degree was in early childhood special ed and I too have a special place in my heart for these precious children. I admire yours and Greg's committment and courage. It's sad to think that once in this very country we treated people with disabilities as 2nd rate also. Thank goodness our culture has come such a long way. God bless you always. Love ya!