Well, if you read my first post to this blog, I will continue now. Once over there, my heart went out to all the precious children who were in the orphanage just wating and needing to be loved. You can't imagine what it could be like until you see with your own eyes the blank looks in the babies eyes and then the smiles as you embrace them! In the ukraine as in most Eastern European countries, chidren with disabilites are not aborted as they are here in the states. We are grateful for that. However, at birth, the parents are given very little options other than to turn their baby over to the government for care. There are NO support services for the families; no early intervention, no special education. It is a disgrace to have a special needs child. Very few families keep their children at home. Remember, it was the same way over here in the USA just 60 years ago!!! Once in the Baby Houses, some fortunate children are signed 'off' by their parents for adoption overseas. Only recently has the Ukraine started a foster care system and started encouraging families to adopt (but not the special needs children!!). If by five, the children are not adopted they are sent to INTERNATS, where the statistics vary but a large percentage of the children don't even make it one year there! They have no medication, are fed once a day, diapered once a day and receive no education. They are asigned a crib, where grown adults are contorted by the restrictions. Here in America, the animal activists would be in arms if animals were found in similar conditions, but these are not animals, they are children, God's SPECIAL children.
While there I learned of a Groupa House where the children were "freaks', victims from Chernobyl and you needed a strong stomach to go in there". Some children even had six fingers and toes! (imagine that!). Well, my little Jillian was born with six fingers on each hand and armed with her picture I entered the Baby House (to use the bathroom). What I saw were perfect, innocent children of God who were 'unique' and each one more precious that the next! It was here where suddenly, it all made sense to me; Why I had Jillian!! Had it not been for her extra digits, I would never have been so assertive and allowed into the Groupa House. (I'm still not sure they even knew what I was doing there.) It was then that they informed me that the DIrector wanted to see me. Once I was escorted to the MAIN Office, my camera was confiscated, and I was able to communicate (via Google translator on the computer), who I was and what I was doing there. After praising them for the care they put into the children, they accepted me and escorted me out (after laughing at some of my pictures of Jo Ann and my site seeing adventures). It was then that they allowed me to walk among the children, and to interact with them!! I knew then that God was telling me that this is what He wants me to do, to minister to the special orphans and to bring Early Intervention training to the staff and families!!
I will be returning June 12-21 to join the Sasha and Oyla Skyrpak from the Almaz Mission in ministering to the orphans. I will be training staff to use sign langauge to enhance communication skills, and I will be assessing and identifying children and providing support for adoptive families. My suitcase is already loaded with materials, rattles,bibs, socks and sun bonnets. I'm hoping to be bringing some donated walkers and therapy equipment as well. I will be meeting with the Orphanage Psychologist to discuss evaluations and to train him in a new assessment tool I have developed! Jo Ann Torres will be joining me. on this mission. She has volunteered to cut and color the hair of the careworkers who work LONG hours, six days per week for the equivalent of $120 a month!! And of course we will be meeting with Ivanna's mother and father whose story I will tell at on a later post.