Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Older children - Special Needs edition

Yesterday I wrote about the risk of adopting an older child, not in term of the difficulties of adjusting once they come home, but even before that, when they resist leaving their familiar surroundings and take a chance on the better life being offered to them. 

Today I will write about adopting a child who is about to age out, but is not mentally competent to voice an opinion on the matter of his/her adoption.  These children would be committed to a mental institution to live out their days if they are not adopted by their 16th birthday.

Jenny and Steven Brown are in the final stages of adopting 16-year-old Sophia, who has Down syndrome and is extremely delayed.  She is the size of a pre-schooler, and does not walk independently.

Adeye and Anthony Salem are adopting 15-year-old "Faith", whom they will call Hasya.  Adeye is visiting Hasya at Pleven right now. Hasya, who has Down syndrome as well, has been restricted to a crib her whole life, is grossly malnourished, the size of an infant or small toddler.  In the last few months, additional care and donated nutrition have improved her condition.  There is still so much more to go, though.

And Susanna and Joe Musser are taking a leap of faith for the second time, to adopt 15-year-old "Tommy".  Like Hasya, he has lived in a crib his whole life.  He does not have Down syndrome, but has other disabilities, and is the size of a small 3-year-old.  They did not think they would qualify financially for another adoption at this time, but apparently they can, and their home-study social worker is expediting their process!  Susanna was desperately seeking a family for "Tommy", and is so excited to be able to be that family.

If born in the USA, these three could have been in High School together.  I could see Sophia as a bubbly cheerleader, Hasya as an artsy type, and Tommy as a video-game-playing drummer in the school band.  Instead, they are likely to never graduate kindergarten.  After adoption, they will need intensive medical and nutritional care, and long-term physical and speech therapy just to become minimally functional. And then what?

Three children.  Totally uncharted territory.  How far can a severely disabled, pint-sized adolescent catch up in a loving home?  We really don't know!   Those of us considering or in process of a special-needs adoption can only look on and marvel at the incredible stand that these families are taking for these children.  All three families are deeply religious.  Is it possible to take something like this on without faith in a higher power?  All three families profess utter inadequacy to deal with the challenges that they are taking on, and their complete reliance on G*d to see them through.

Where would an Atheist get that strength from?

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