Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Project

 Mia Farrow once said, "If you have a child is drowning in a lake, do you have a moral obligation to pull the child out? Well, almost everybody would say yes. But what if the lake is a mile away? What if it's a continent away?"

Most people don't really think about children with special needs who are unlucky enough to be born in countries where treatment and therapy are not available to them. Other people see videos like this and this and are inspired to adopt a special-needs orphan who would otherwise be sentenced to a short life in a mental institution with no hope for a real future.  Some people are even motivated to adopt multiple children, feeling that the need is so great that they want to do as much as they can.

I believe that I can actually have a greater impact if instead of trying to save as many as possible myself, if I raise awareness and inspire people in as many communities as possible to adopt just 1 or 2 children each.  This can actually be more effective in the long run, since people can look at a family that adopts 1 or 2 children with special needs and see themselves doing the same, while a family that adopts many children is just so far off the bell curve that most people in the larger community would not be able to identify with them. 

This, then, is the plan: 

Matir Asurim Action Plan

Mission: To save the lives of children born with special needs

We all know children with special needs. Children with a wide range of disabilities are fully integrated into our schools, and are regularly portrayed in movies and television.

This is not the case in most of the world. In many countries, children born with special needs are relinquished to the care of orphanages and institutions, often at the advice of doctors. There they are not only deprived of social and educational opportunities, but often neglected and malnourished to the point that they rarely survive past adolescence.

What can we do?
Matir Asurim (“releasing the captives”) seeks to address this in 2 ways:

Help Them There

There are existing charities that work to improve conditions for orphans and other children with special needs:

Ukraine: Life 2 Orphans http://www.life2orphans.org/

Bulgaria: One Heart Bulgaria

Serbia: Cherish Our Children International

Matir Asurim will work to raise money for these and other charities, as well as work with these charities to carry out new projects.

For example, the lack of wheelchair access prevents many otherwise capable children from attending higher education. Creating islands of accessibility could plant the seeds of change in entire communities!

Bring Them Here

At the same time, there are thousands of children who are languishing in orphanages and institutions who cannot wait for change to come in their countries. They need out NOW. They need US.

Matir Asurim will work to create a community which supports the adoption of special needs children from places where the medical and educational resources are scarce. We will do so by:

  1. Sponsoring workshops with adoption professionals and special-needs professionals, as well as with adoptive parents and parents of special needs children, in order to improve understanding of the challenges involved
  2. Organizing networks of material and emotional support to assist adoptive parents during and after the adoption process
  3. Integrating children with special needs into the community in a way that de-mystifies the disabilities

Saving lives – especially young lives – is a basic aspect of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world)
We can do this!
We should do this!

Please help by following the blog by email, spreading this information to your communities by email, facebook, twitter etc.  If you are in the Boston area, please contact me if you would like me to speak to your community about this.  Thank you!

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