Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Friday, October 5, 2012

31 for 21: Water and Fire

I suddenly realized that these two metaphors represent one of the main questions in the adoption journey: What is the vision for the adoption?

Some people are "Fire" adopters.  They learn about a country, or an individual institution, or an individual child in dire need, and are driven to rescue the neediest of them.  As the Christians say, "the least of these".  These children may have severe special needs, extreme malnutrition and neglect, and/or be older.  They may take this on because they have medical training that has prepared them for the extra care required.  They may have other children with similar special needs.  Or they may be filled with a sense of commitment and faith that bolsters them to do whatever it takes.  I certainly find these stories inspiring, and wonder if my family and my community could handle one of these.  I wonder how many people would follow that example, rather than write it off as "you're crazy" or even just "wow, I could never do that".

Then there are the "Water" adopters.  They, too, learn about the neglect suffered by children with special needs in developing countries, and are moved to take action.  But they reason, "Let's rescue a child who is still young enough and healthy enough that his/her needs will be more manageable.  Let's rescue a child before they become needy enough to require a "Fire" adopter to be saved."   The babies and toddlers I posted about recently fall into that category, as do most of the children in the 3-5 year old category and many of the 6- to 9-year-olds.  These stories are also inspiring, but in a much more low-key way.  Mostly, they are stories about adorable children being loved by their families and blossoming instead of falling further and further behind in an orphanage.  I can definitely see people in my community being open to this possibility if they saw an example of it.  These stories have a much more normal feel to them.

Which brings us to the final metaphor.

You are walking with your friends and family along the road.  On one side of the road is a lake, filled with drowning children.  On the other side, is a burning schoolhouse.  What do you do? Do you stand there paralyzed because you can't save everyone?  If not, do you run into the fire, swim into the lake, or run down the road ahead as fast as you can so you don't have to hear the cries...?

Religion Connection, for those who want it:

1. We just passed Yom Kippur, when we not only repent of our sins, but we contemplate our own mortality.  We ask,
"who will live and who will die; 
who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; 
who by water and who by fire...."

 2. Proverbs 24:11-12:
If you refrain from rescuing those taken to death and those on the verge of being slain will you say, "Behold, we did not know this"? Is it not so that He Who counts hearts understands, and He Who guards your soul knows, and He will requite a man according to his deed?

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