Just wanted to write today to talk about two things that are the unfortunate, sad but true parts of being a part of the adoption process here in the eastern part of Europe. There have been many rewarding, incredible, happy, loving and overwhelmingly joyful days in this part of the world for us, but the last few days we have also seen the ugly side which makes us incredibly sad.
For the better part of the last 10 days that we have been in this smallish city, 50,000 people, we have had a great taxi driver that takes us to and from our hotel to the orphanage every day. He picks us up at 845 to go to the orphanage, then picks us up at 11 at the orphanage to go to the hotel and then back to the orphanage at 345 and back to the hotel at 6. For this work, we pay him a nice wage and a wage that would make any taxi driver in this city extremely happy for the actual level of work that they engage in by driving us 10 min one way. Our taxi driver for 8 days was like most people that we have observed here, always frowning, unhappy looking, never says hello, depressed and seemingly angry at all around him. He looked like he is about 60 years old or so and been around the taxi business a while. But like I said, he was always on time and even stopped more than once to wait for us at the grocery store or a pizza place. And we paid him nicely for his promptness as we appreciated his diligence.
Then Sunday came along and everything changed in an instant. On Sunday late in teh afternoon when he came to pick us up at the orphanage, we were walking by him to bring her back to her group and for the first time, he saw her directly. He knew that we were comign to visit a child, but had no idea that she had Down Syndrome, or as they call it here, she was an Invalid. Seemingly all was normal as we jumped in his little toyota car and off we went to the pizza place to have an evening meal. We normally do not eat out and eat groceries from the store, but that night we wanted a little more substantial meal. We had agreed for him to pick us back up an hour later and as that time approached we made sure we got up and headed outside to meet him. We waited and waited and 20 min went by and no driver. We finally headed back to the other taxi area and took a random car back to the hotel but were perplexed by our drivers absence. Then the next morning rolled around and he again did not show up for our normal 845 pick up and we thought something was wrong. We were going to be late so we called another driver to bring us and as we were driving by the downtown area where the taxis sit, there was our driver, sitting waiting for a fare.
To make a long story short, with the money he was being paid, the ease of the job he was doing, the certain fare he was getting four times a day and the mysterious missed pickups on Sunday, we concluded that after he saw Lucy had Down Syndrome, he didn't want anything to do with us. See the older generation here does not see those that are disabled as a joy to love and behold as they would any other child. No, here, children with disabilities are treated with contempt and shame and espeically by the older generation of people. We have even heard that most of the older generation believes that they will be cursed by God by coming into contact with people that have disabilities. Or that Americans are coming to this place to adopt children with disabilities because they are going to harvest them for body parts and organs. I know that it sounds unthinkable and absolutely medieval in thinking, but we have now experienced this sad and unfortunate belief system up front and in person. We of course can not officially confirm it, but all the logic points to the sad reality of this older mans warped view of the world.
The second sad reality that we have come across just today was not our own, but the story we heard from another american couple we just met today for dinner. We just learned of their arrival from another couple we know in town and so we set up a dinner tonight, pizza again, so we could meet and talk. Nice to see another native English speaking couple for a few mintues. Anyway, we were listening to their story about adopting a typical 5 year old little girl from the ophanage in town. Apparently all has been going well with getting to know this little girl that seemingly has not been able to find a family that she likes. See, here in this country, apparently they trust the children to decide if they want to go with the adoptive parents or not. They trust 4 and 5 year olds to know what is in their best interest for some reason. Most 4-5 year olds can barely figure out if they want orange juice or apply juice let along make a life altering decision about where and who they will spend the rest of their life with.
Anyway, this little girl had been getting to know this couple and all had been going very well. Then today, they went to see her and at one point in the visit the little girl starting crying very hard and was just breaking down in front of them. Luckily, they had their facilitator there to help translate with teh little girl and ask her what was wrong. Here is where it gets unbelievable. The little girl was crying because she really liked the couple, but one of the nannies had told her some horrible things about the couple and that she should not take them as her parents because they are not good people. The reasons why this nanny would do such a thing to a little girl that needs a home are just unthinkable, but according to the local facilitator for this couple there are a number of nannies that do things like this because they don't want the kids to leave. Because if too many of the kids leave, then they will be out of work and not be able to have their job.
Again, I know that this stuff just seems unthinkable and could only be a sick script in a movie, but we are seeing this stuff first and second hand here and it is scary at best and incredibly disturbing at worst. It makes us both so sad to see children being discriminated against and hurt by adults that are so ignorant and selfish. These kids deserve so much more than they are getting and I can only hope and pray that as we all tell these stories and help people see the realities that exist in teh world, that we will slowly start to break down the barriers and walls that lock people in ignorant mentaliites like these.
I would just ask that you say a simple prayer for people here tonight. Not a prayer of judgement but a prayer of grace that God would keep bringing people to this place to open minds and hearts. That God would radically bless those facilitiators that work here to protect their work as they open minds and hearts. And a prayer of hope that God would continue to impress on the hearts and minds of his followers the needs of the widows and the orphans. Not just in our own backyards, but in the places where the least of these are truly the least of these!