March 31, 2011

I Am Loved (In Russian)

This is a video that was put together in hopes that a certain judge in a certain country, (who told Kirill's family "No", "because he has Down syndrome, he is better off in an institution" ) will see this video, hear the pleas of many, ..... have a change of heart..... Right now, as I type....... on the other side of the world, another family sits in front of the same judge, pleading that the judge will allow little Evan to have a forever family. Evan, like Kirill, has Down syndrome, too. Meet her and her family here. There have been many prayers and much work that has happened. Please pray that Evan is given the chance to bloom.

The English version: (without music)

March 26, 2011

This is where Kirill belongs!!

Dear Russia,

Kirill........ a little orphan boy with Down syndrome, in Russia. His family found him, WANT him..... (go see the video of when he first met them)...... but the judge said "NO"..... because he should stay in an institution...... This folks, is a tragedy!! an injustice!! We must fight for Kirill, and in so doing..... fight for all those other little ones deemed unworthy of a family... alone, an orphan.

But......It's just me, what can I do? others whom are much better with words have been posting on their blogs, passing the message through facebook friends, ......... I've been reading blogs, staying updated through different groups that support adoption, that support Reece's Rainbow, and that love and support people with Down syndrome. But what more can I do? I contribute to families in process to bringing little ones home...... but what can I do to help Kirill? I think I have maybe 4 followers on my blog, and I'm still trying to figure out facebook ....... and at the current time I'm going to leave "tweeting" up to birds (which by the way...... hasn't it been wonderful to "hear" spring coming? stand outside on these warm days and listen to the birds excitedly talking about the arrival of spring) oops... sorry, i got sidetracked...

Sooo........ tonight, I decided to write to Russia. To Russia, where when a baby with Down syndrome is born, the parents are told to leave the baby there. Sometimes they aren't even allowed to see the baby. They are told that this baby has nothing to offer them, to offer anyone. That this baby will bring them grief and be a burden that will destroy their family. And so, they do..... not feeling they have a choice, schools won't take them, no daycare would take them, no doctors will provide services, ....... they convince themselves that it is for the best. These babies are taken to orphanages where underpaid, over-worked staff can not meet their needs. If they are lucky, they get their diaper changed once a day, they are only allowed a minute or two to eat what they can..... they are left to lie in their cribs... without toys.... they don't even cry..... they have learned that no one will come. Some of the lucky ones will go to "baby orphanages" where they may get a little more attention........ and thanks to the Reece's Rainbow ministry...... some will be rescued/adopted by families who understand that they DO have value, they are worthy of love, of a family. BUT, if they aren't found by their forever family by the time they turn 4 or 5 they will be transferred to the mental institution...... no longer available for adoption..... hopeless ...... little tiny children transferred to a mental institution with adults..... most don't live longer than a couple of years...... and die alone, in a crib.........

Kirill is one of those little boys........ but his family FOUND HIM!! and the judge said, "no". It breaks my heart.

I found an online website of a group in Moscow, that is trying to change old attitudes, prejudices and misconceptions about Down syndrome. They are trying to empty the orphanages by supporting families in taking their babies home from the hospital. Helping support them as they live in a country that has never considered a person with Down syndrome worthy of love, of a family. They are fighting hard. So I decided to write to them....... not because they need convincing, and maybe they already know and are doing all they can...... but if not........ maybe if I email them....... they will be able to incite some "local outrage" and make a difference. Their website, Downside Up, is in both english and in russian, so I am praying they will be able to read the email.

Hello Downside Up member,
My son has down syndrome. His name is Nevin, he is 21 years old. He has blessed our family beyond all expectations. He is a caring, compassionate young man with a great sense of humor. He works at the grocery store 2 days per week and he has volunteered at the local hospital and therapy center for young children with disabilities. He also volunteers in a program the prepares and delivers meals to elderly people who are lonely and need help. He loves books and movies and having fun with family. He loves and is LOVED by his brother and sister and his extended family and friends, as well. Once you know and love someone with down syndrome you realize the potential and the richness that they have to offer to all of those around them. You also become passionate about teaching others about their potential and all that people with down sydnrome have to offer to the world. Which is why I am writing to you.
I know that as a group, YOU understand. You share in that passion to support people with down syndrome and their families.

I wanted to write to you and THANK you for working in Russia to change attitudes in your country and support families whom are choosing to raise their children with down syndrome.

We continue to advocate here in the USA for rights of people with disabilities and of course because of our family experience, especially those with Down syndrome. I know on your website you speak of some of the old prejudices and misconceptions that continue to exist in Russia and that your mission is to change that, so that families will not encounter unfriendliness and lack of understanding as they raise their children and help them grow and learn. I was so excited to find your website and read about all the work that you are doing!!

I assume you are aware of the current injustice that is occurring with a little boy named Kirill, who is an orphan with Down syndrome in Russia, whom has an adoptive family from the USA who wants to help him reach his best potential. They want to take care of him, love him, teach him and raise him. But a judge in Pskov has denied his opportunity for a family "BECAUSE he has down syndrome". Because she continues to believe some of those old prejudices, misconceptions and myths that continue to be common in many areas of Russia.

I don't know what I can do....... what one person, one family in Iowa, USA, can do...... so we pray, we spread the word .......... and I write to YOU, because I know you understand, because I know you believe in the potential of people with down syndrome, because YOU are in Russia, because maybe you haven't heard, because maybe you WOULD be able to do something.......

I am including links to two articles written by people who are better with words than I am......... I hope you will pass this email on to everyone on your advisory board, your patrons, your families, your trustees, your staff, your Early Intervention centre, your resource centre, your news staff, the media, the medical consultants that you work with, the therapists and teachers who support you, the journalists who have helped you, your Charity sports team, .......... maybe together we can make a difference in the life of one little boy........... and by helping him....... we will help change attitudes, change prejudices, change people and give hope to all the children with down syndrome in Russia. There is another family that will be standing in front of the same judge next week, pleading for the chance to give a child with Down syndrome a family........... PLEASE HELP....... if there is anything you can think of to do....... please do it.

Again, I thank you for all you are doing to help decrease the numbers in the orphanages by changing attitudes and helping families take their babies with down syndrome home from the hospital and support them as they raise those children.

I pray that together we can also give hope to the ones currently in need of families. That Judges will begin to understand WHY a family would want to adopt one of these special kids. And maybe even come to know that we feel PRIVILEGED not BURDENED to have the opportunity to be a "family BLESSED by down syndrome".

Together we CAN change the world!!

Thank you,
Laurie Smith
Iowa, USA

March 12, 2011

A Celebration........

A celebration of love and marriage.......... but also a celebration of friendship. Chris and Vanessa were married today.

It was also a celebration of friendship........ Chris has worked with Nevin for six years. They have become true friends...... Nevin was an usher in his wedding today. He was SO excited!!

**Check out Nevin's Photoblog if you'd like to see more pictures........ we'll hopefully get them uploaded in the next couple of days.

March 9, 2011

I'm done!!!

I'm done!! I'm tired of this. 4 weeks should be long enough, don't ya think? oh, poor pitiful me, huh? It's healing, the steri-strips are now off. I can take a shower without a bag on my foot. So it's progress, right? yup... just being impatient.

And......... already out of words....... hmmm.........

I have enjoyed this chance to read lots of blogs. The internet is quite the amazing thing, isn't it. A friend recently asked me what forums (related to Down Syndrome) did I like and which ones had I found helpful, especially when Nevin was little. I didn't really have an answer.... and in fact, chided myself and my tendency to "isolate". And then........ I realized........... the world wide web started in 1990! that was the year that Nevin was born. There was no internet support that I had access to. I knew of a few other families in our area with a child with Down syndrome....... but beyond that my world was much smaller than what the internet currently provides to people.

And it really wasn't until I started homeschooling Nevin, in 2001, that I actually joined any forums, and even then I was afraid to post, in fact, I signed up with an obviously cryptic user name, address, email, etc. because I was afraid some bad guys were gonna find me!? but I was immediately "booted" with a nice email stating that I wouldn't be allowed to join the forum without providing accurate information. And it seemed to be an email from a real live person, not just a robotic type "boot" from the forum. Soooo, I sent an apology email and explained that I had never provided that kind of personal information on the "web" before. She assured me it was safe and that they maintained security by not allowing obviously fictitious members to join. And so began my exposure to finding support from people around the world. It is still amazing to me how connected you can become with people you have never met.

And while the internet can be a venue for evil intentions/misuse........ it has proven to be invaluable in many ways. Allowing families who felt isolated to "connect" with other families in similar situations.

I still find the technology completely amazing............. and I am grateful for it.