Over ten years ago, I had an experience and met a man who changed my life.(all pictures are taken from my scrapbook, pictures I forgot I had)
I was living in Moscow, Russia working the American Embassy in Moscow as I was flailing through my party life, not focused on what I wanted out of life or who I really wanted to be. In many ways, I was lost to myself as well as to my future. BUT the only anchor I really had was that I was doing this with my best friend, Nicole.
One cold day, we were invited to meet Patch Adams, who was on a trip to visit orphanages as clowns. (By the way, I had NOT seen the movie or heard of him at the time, although the movie was out. I've always been sort of a nerd when it comes to pop culture).
I sat next to him on the bus to and from the far-flung institution and I will never forget his spirit, his wisdom or his passion for life. He spoke of the founding ideals of our country, how living up to Jefferson would be a more equitable society. The way he lived his life completely for others moved me in a way I had not ever or since been inspired. Two days after that I truly felt the call to teach and have not turned back since. I really, really wish I made more money, had more things that money buys, but at the end of the day, I love what I do and the fact that I get to work with children fulfills me.
At the orphanage we visited, I was appalled at the conditions. In Russia, standard practice when delivering a special needs child is to give them up. I remember holding and playing with one little boy with two thumbs and thought that was probably the reason he was there. He seemed perfectly fine otherwise. We were there holding and playing with these children, when somehow Nicole discovered another room with completely neglected children, mostly babies in cribs who were completely ignored. I will never forget the way she swooped in and took care of them, changed the babies who were severely neglected, kissed their cheeks. I was almost afraid of the whole situation, but her humanity shined.
Fast forward ten years, I have started reading Kelle Hampton's blog, whose youngest daughter has Down Syndrome. The way she has inspired me to soak up life and experience the raw beauty of humanity almost rivals Patch Adams.
And through her blog, I've met other mothers on the similar paths, raising special-needs children.
A couple weeks ago, a few of these mothers started talking about Reese's Rainbow, an international organization helping families adopt children with Down Syndrome from these orphanages in Eastern Europe. I can NOT. QUIT. THINKING. about these children. The children I see on the website, and the children I had forgotten. Selfishly, I remembered how Patch Adams changed me but I had not thought of the children he was there to make smile.
I haven't thought about that day in so long, which makes me feel so guilty. How can I not think about those children who were tossed away because of their special needs? I wanted to talk to Nicole about it because I don't even remember if we have talked about it ever since then. So we texted Saturday night (the life of a busy motherhood doesn't leave us much time for quality conversation). She said she thinks about the day all the time, and that it changed her life too. (See, she is more compassionate than I am as I had sort of forgotten them, whereas before I was sort of afraid of them.)
Today, I learned about a little girl who is 4, Anna Cate's age, who has Down Syndrome, and is turning 5 next month. If someone does not adopt her by age 5, she will go to an institution. In all honesty, I''m not sure I would adopt a child. Two is really hard for me right now, but there are families out there who want to adopt these children, but they need the funding. Consider giving.
Please read my friend Patti's appeal to help Olga. She is giving away an Ipod Touch to anyone who gives and helps her spread the word. I hope you can tell that I'm not doing this for the Ipod Touch, but because my heart strings have been pulled, but pass the word if you know someone who does want an ipod touch.
Wouldn't it be grand if this little girl could have her life changed?
If you can donate, click here.
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that she is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher