Be The Answer for Kyoo Bin

29 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

Despite the efforts by public interest groups and government entities in Korea and abroad to support and encourage parenting by single-birth mothers, domestic adoption, and birth family preservation, close to 10,000 children continue to be lost, abandoned, left to be found, and relinquished by single and married birthparents every year in South Korea.  Last year, only 24% of these children were placed with permanent families (in Korea and internationally).   There is a loud outcry by those who oppose inter-country adoption of Korean children as they make the claim that because Korea is a modern, developed nation, Koreans should be taking care of “their own children”, but the reality is that Korean attitudes and emotions towards orphans, homeless children, and domestic adoption are not receptive to this argument.  When the birthfamily cannot be preserved as a permanent solution for the child, domestic families are not stepping up, to the degree that is needed, to provide permanent Korean homes for these children.  In these cases, international adoption is the path through the child’s basic right to a family can be realized.

Kyoo Bin* was born to a young single woman in August of last year.  Unlike the majority of single birthmothers who are ostracized from their schools, families, friends and communities with no financial, emotional or physical resources, Kyoo Bin’s birthmother sought out her own parents (with whom she had been estranged) and received their counsel and support while making a decision as to her child’s future.  Based on her own belief that she was emotionally incapable of being responsible for her child, but also due to the lack of financial support available and because of social barriers that exist for single mothers (lack of access to re-enter high school, lack of affordable and available regular daycare, difficulty in securing a safe, stable, single-parent conducive job, strong traditional beliefs against women with children marrying, etc.), the birthmother decided upon adoption for her son.  Also very important in the decision for adoption by the birthmother were the real issues that Kyoo Bin would have had to face as a child (and later as an adult) being raised by a single mother in Korea.  These challenges include discrimination and social stigma that result in significant (of a much higher degree than anything experienced by adoptees in the US or European countries) denial of access to jobs, education, marriage, and family acceptance/belonging.  (The lifelong prejudice and denial of access to basic social and economic rights is even greater for children who grow up in Korea with no permanent families and who have been identified as having “orphan” status.)

Born at nearly full-term and healthy, Kyoo Bin has been in the care of a loving foster family since shortly after he was relinquished on the day of his birth.  Kyoo Bin is an active, bright-eyed child who I have had the pleasure to meet with his case worker and foster mother.  After having recovered from transient tachypnea at birth, Kyoo Bin has been healthy, but continues to show delayed motor skill development.  Cerebral Palsy, Fragile X syndrome, and Prader-Will Syndrome have all been ruled out as any potential cause for Kyoo Bin’s delays.  Now, over a year old, Kyoo Bin is not yet walking, but crawls well and pulls himself up.  He is positive, easy-going, and quite social while his favorite place to be is on his foster father’s knee.  Kyoo Bin enjoys playing with his toys, but has started to exhibit head-banging behaviors one time per day if at all.  His aging foster parents are providing him with a loving, but temporary home.  The hope of Kyoo Bin’s birthmother and her plan for him was that he would thrive and be able to meet his maximum potential.  This will only truly be possible when he is in a permanent family.

*Name of child changed to protect identity and at the request of the Korean adoption agency.  If you are interested in adopting Kyoo Bin, please contact Jane Lee at jlee@chsfs.org

Be The Answer For Kyoo Bin and other children by Watching Joint Council’s Be The Answer Video. Share your thoughts on the video by leaving a comment on YouTube.





The Answer for Evyn

20 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

Happy National Adoption Day from Joint Council. Watch the video below as Bryson and Emily share their journey to adopting their daughter Evyn from Ethiopia.

Find and Attend a National Adoption Month Event in your area. Email Joint Council at betheanswer@jointcouncil.org with what you did. Include pictures so we can share them with our followers!





The Answer for Manuel

9 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

We set out for an older toddler boy. Boys often are forgotten, many people thinking girls are easier.  With two birth-daughters we knew that this wasn’t true.  The thought of a forgotten or neglected boy needing a stable, loving family drew us to our decision.

Manuel is a total teddy bear, charming, smart and loving.  He came home to us at age 5 with scars, parasites, and tuberculosis.  He had size 4 clothing even though he was 5 years old.  Despite this he still had a bright smile and a loving lasting hug that everyone enjoyed, this was the start on our adventure into older toddler adoption.

Our road trip into parenting Manuel began wit stabilizing his health.  Reports from Guatemala showed Manuel needing food, he was behind developmentally; he was clumsy, and his verbal skills needed some help.  Once home it was the quest to encourage eating when hungry and getting used to food at regular times.  Treating his ailments fell into the mix with pre-school to work on manners.  Manuel had an instinct to leave us when he pleased, in crowds or our front yard.  Sad to ween this independence, we taught him its best to be with Mommy and Daddy and that with us there’s always food and love and no need to ask for it from others.

Manuel suffered constantly with flu and colds that had me worried that he’d never actually attend a full month at school!  Our physician came to explain that Manuel needed time to build up his immunity.  That malnutrition is not overcome with just eating but our endeavor would take several years because malnutrition is at the cellular level and we had a long way to go to build up our sons system.

After being home for two years did we realize his vision was poor, another possible effect of malnutrition?  Manuelito had double vision and was legally blind but we hadn’t realized it.  It was hard not to feel guilty, our eye doctor reassured us that many families don’t realize their kids have a vision problem until there is a problem in learning at school.  Manuel is now in cool Spiderman spectacles with the double vision corrected he’s on his way to correctable vision.

None of these setback’s have been easy but somehow we find our way to brush ourselves off and continue on loving and caring for our son and try not to be bitter about these struggles.

With all that I have learned about malnutrition my thoughts wander back to Guatemala and all of the children who won’t receive the love and care that they deserve.  I think what if Manuel was still there, would he be begging on the street? Would he be alive? It hasn’t been easy with Manuel, I won’t sugar coat adoption or parenting.  Bringing Manuel home has taught me more about the human condition that I could ever know by any other fashion.  Whether he knows it or not he’s made my heart grow wider and stronger, he’s made me a more accepting person, and to Manuel I am forever grateful to have him be my son.

This was The Answer for Manuel, Be The Answer for another child by visiting the Guatemala900 website and signing up to receive updates on the children waiting in Guatemala and what you can do to help.





The Answer for Rose

8 11 2010

Rose turns 13 today! All of us here at Joint Council want to wish Rose a Very Happy Birthday!

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

Adoption was The Answer for Rose.  Help other children who don’t yet have an answer by helping one of the many, many wonderful organizations working in Haiti, Haitian Roots.  Six Seeds will donate $2 to Haitian Roots for every comment left after this article! Each comment has to have a unique email address, but if you have more than one address, you can comment more than once.  It’s a simple and easy way to help orphaned children get the education they need!





Be The Answer for Gabe

8 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

The One That Got Away

Gabe looks terrific. He’s in excellent health. His long hair is thick and full and dark. He’s wearing new tennis shoes and very expensive looking T-shirt with a foil embossed design. The rest of the design was of a face looking up wearing sunglasses and a swirl of smoke. Gabe himself was smoking when I stepped out into the street to invite him in. He flipped the cigarette stub hidden in his hand into a pocket the moment I appeared. I insisted he pull up the baggy pants which were perched precariously above the danger line before I let him into the house. I can get away with that because I’ve known him for so long. If I hadn’t, I’d probably be afraid of him.

He’s wearing a watch that isn’t a real Rolex, but he shouldn’t be able to afford such a big and brassy knockoff. Or the new Nikes. Or the flat brimmed baseball cap set at such a jaunty angle on that tall afro. He didn’t want to talk long – he was just hoping to pick up a pair of soccer shoes I was supposed to deliver to him, a gift from my son back in the States.

The boys were the best of friends when my son lived here at the orphanage. Gabe was the son of the house manager, and he was here often. When I first met him he was fourteen years old and full of himself. He liked to alternately tease and play with the smallest children in the house. I liked having him come by because I felt having such a normal ‘big brother’ added to the family atmosphere in the house. I knew he was a little bit rough around the edges, but he minded his tongue around the kids and he gave really terrific piggy back rides.

Gabe was trying very hard in school. He wanted to learn English well enough to teach it someday. I managed to get him to call me ‘darling’, a word from his schoolbook, for a whole day before I let him know what he was saying. We all had a good laugh over that, and I called him ‘darling’ to tease him for years afterwards. Gabe always had a fine sense of humor. He was an ordinary kid. Pretty good at soccer, average intelligence, doing alright at school, hanging around with some friends that we all thought questionable and some that we liked a lot. The kind of kid that finishes high school with average grades, gets some sort of a job, and eventually falls into something that works out for him. I could picture him marrying, being a good husband and a very good father. A typical, middle class, perfectly satisfactory American life. Except that this is Haiti.

There is no ordinary job here for Gabe. In a country where the woman, begging for change in the parking lot of the pharmacy, speaks seven languages and tells me she is starving in crisp, correct English, Kreyol, and Spanish,  where there is no construction company ready to take on an ordinary kid because he’s a nice guy and he needs a job. There is no trade school with great deals on student loans and grants and an employment referral program for graduates.

This could have been my son’s story too. He’s just a few years younger than Gabe and had a very strong and well educated mother. No one in my birth son’s family can read or sign his name. But my son is on the honor roll as a high school junior. He’s worrying about which college he should choose. I don’t want to think about what Gabe  must be worrying about.

I have a starfish tattooed on my arm to remind me why I do this work. I’ll spend my whole life walking down this beach, throwing back starfish one by one, but where do you throw a starfish when there is no ocean to catch him? How can you help one lost child in a sea of lost adults, lost chances, lost hope? This one has fallen back in the sand to die in the sun, and there is nothing I can do about it.

We’re doing all we can to help in this struggling land. We have over 150 children safe within the gates. Our women’s literacy, education, and microgrant program will restart in the fall. We’re building our second free school in Jeremie. But none of that will help Gabe. He has already fallen. Forgive me darling.

Be The Answer for Gabe by helping one of the many, many wonderful organizations working in Haiti, Haitian Roots.  Six Seeds will donate $2 to Haitian Roots for every comment left after this article! Each comment has to have a unique email address, but if you have more than one address, you can comment more than once.  It’s a simple and easy way to help orphaned children, like Gabe, get the education they need!

http://sixseeds.tv/s/content/adoption/660-from_haitian_roots





The Answer for George

4 11 2010

To learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign-Click Here

 

George had An Answer. Be The Answer for another child  by spreading the word about the challenge and Joint Councils work!  Find our facebook page by clicking here, “like” our page and refer our page to 5 of  your friends!





Be The Answer for Song

4 11 2010

Song’s story is one of many for Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Adovocay Campaign. The campaign entitled “I Am The Answer” highlights stories of  children who have been part of the adoption system in some way. Some stories highlight a child finding their forever family while others are not as lucky. We encourage you to take the time to learn more about Joint Council’s National Adoption Month Advocacy Campaign by Clicking Here and then support Being The Answer by completing each task every day in November.

 

The first time I met an orphaned child who was blind, my heart ached for her.  The orphanage was crowded and loud, and she sat all day on her little chair looking overwhelmed.   I was told that her future would be difficult, as she could not attend public school, and she would most likely never find work.   The orphanage staff told me there was a good chance she would be institutionalized her entire life, simply for being blind.

So when we first learned of baby Song, I knew we had a difficult decision to make.  He had been diagnosed with retinoblastoma, an eye cancer.  Treatment involves removal of the eye, which we quickly did, knowing he could still see with his left eye.  Here he is shortly after that surgery.

Unfortunately, at his next medical exam, we learned that cancer was in his left eye as well.   To save his life, we would have to remove both eyes, leaving Song permanently blind.   This was a very difficult decision, as I knew that without adoption, we could be committing him to life in an institution.  But it was the only option to save his life, and so surgery was done.   Subsequent CT scans have shown that he is cancer free, and for that we are so thankful.  His orphanage agreed to submit him for international adoption, and he is now on China’s shared list.  But sadly, no one has stepped forward to choose him.

In June, I had the honor to meet little Song in person.   Of course I knew from his photos what a beautiful little boy he was, but meeting him face to face took my breath away.   Song is only 2 years old, but he talks like a little adult.  He happily chatted all through lunch, commenting on every dish and asking who everyone was.   Since losing his sight, his other senses have become increasingly sharp, and he could tell immediately when I was near.    His caregivers told us again and again how very smart he is, and they are all hoping that a family will want him as their son.   Without adoption, the reality is that Song’s life has little hope.   But with a family to support and love him, and provide this remarkable and intelligent little boy with an opportunity to go to school,  I know his future can be unlimited!

Amy Eldridge

Executive Director, Love Without Boundaries

(Song currently has an adoption grant towards his adoption expenses through LWB)

Be The Answer for Song  by spreading the word about the challenge and Joint Councils work!  Find our facebook page by clicking here and “like” our page and refer our page to 5 of  your friends!








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