Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Special needs adoption from a Jewish perspective.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Blogs I follow

There are a few blogs that I follow especially closely.  I have read their stories back to the beginning of the blog, and have been following them for the past year and a half in real time.

First is the Musser family.  Until their tenth child was born with Trisomy 21, they were just a large, rural, Christian family living in Amish country in Pennsylvania. Little Verity introduced her mom to the Down syndrome community, and opened her eyes to the plight of children with disabilities in foreign orphanages and institutions. While still learning the ropes of taking care of a special needs baby, they committed to adopting a little girl with T21 in Bulgaria. This child, whom they would name Katie, turned out to suffer from much more than a chromosomal variation.  Warehoused in a substandard orphanage, she was literally starved, weighing less than 10 lbs. when they brought her home at almost 10 years of age.  While they nurtured her and healed her from the years of neglect, the Mussers realized that many other children in the same institution are similarly suffering.  Susanna Musser singlehandedly publicized the Pleven orphanage, inspiring dozens of families to adopt children with various disabilities from there, as well as bringing about structural changes in the orphanage itself.  They recently adopted one more child from there themselves, a boy with Cerebral Palsy who was about to age out of the international adoption program.  Susanna writes beautifully and passionately, not shying away from showing the tough side of special needs adoption, while also clearly portraying the beauty in it. She is highly motivated by her Christian faith, and refers to it often, but communicates her own experience independently of the New Testament quotes. She also includes many beautiful photographs of her lovely children.

Then there is the Alan family.  Renee has professional background as a therapist, and she and her husband have fostered many children with and without disabilities before embarking on an adoption. They adopted a 5-year-old girl with severe Cerebral Palsy in early 2012.  Unlike Susanna, Renee found her child's institution to be surprisingly good.  The children appeared to be well taken care of, and well adjusted as a result. It was clear that they desperately needed families, though, as no opportunities awaited them once they would grow up. Like Susanna, she advocated tirelessly for the children she had met, until the vast majority of those eligible for adoption have been adopted.  She writes in a more rambling, Hemingway-esque style, offering minute details and weaving multiple thoughts into each blog post.  She also punctuates her writing with New Testament quotes, but the value of her writing is in the realistic picture she paints of the experience of special needs adoption.  More recently she returned to Ukraine to adopt 3 more children with special needs, and has been writing extensively about FAS, CP, and other issues.

Finally, there is the Spring family. Their youngest child (from Leah's first marriage) has Trisomy 21. They were not expecting to conceive any more children, but after Leah traveled to Eastern Europe with her friend Shelley Bedford to assist with her adoption, they realized that adopting another child with T21 was the right choice for them. They have since adopted 3 boys from Serbia, all with T21. Like Susanna and Renee, Leah has been advocating for adoption of children from similar circumstances, in her case, Serbian orphans. Leah's writing is mostly conversational, offering a very comfortable perspective into her daily life.  While she is also Christian, religion does not play a major role on her blog, which is refreshing!

There are many other stories I follow -- just look on the right side-bar!  But these are the most consistently informative reads on this subject.

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