This week, we are going to feature a handful of bloggers on ShePosts who are using their social media influence for good during the holiday season.  One of those bloggers is Jeannett from Life ReArranged. Jeannett is no stranger to philanthropy through blogging,  Her blog is a regular host of guest posts that are matched with giveaways benefits a charity of choice.   This month, she has set her sights on something that could change one person’s life forever. Jeannett is attempting to fund the adoption of a little boy named Cliff.  Cliff has Down Syndrome and lives in a country where children with special needs who have been abandoned by their families are relegated to life in a mental institution upon turning three.  She learned about Cliff through Reece’s Rainbow – an organization that tries to help place special needs children into adoptive homes. Jeannet had a guest blogger last week (Adeye, who blogs over at No Greater Joy).  She described her first-hand experience visiting an orphanage in Eastern Europe for children with special needs.  As a mom, I found the account horrifying.   Adeye has adopted two children with Down Syndrome from the Ukraine.  On her last visit there, she describes:

“I’m not sure how it all works.  There surely must be a time in an orphans life when they are separated into groups of healthy children, those with special needs, and the few with profound needs. Even if you have never been into a third world country orphanage, it goes without saying that NO child deserves to live in a place like that.  But, it is [very sadly] a fact of life.  We live in a fallen world and until Jesus returns to take us home, places like these will exist. I have noticed that sometimes children with special needs are in the same rooms as healthy children.  Like our Harper–she was in a room with one or two kiddos who had ‘needs’, but the others were all typically developing children.  Harper got a good deal.  My guess is that the orphanage workers saw that she was developing fairly well, and she got put with the mixed group of children. Hailee on the other hand was not so fortunate.  I’m sure her development as an infant must have been lagging–a definite red flag for those who make decisions as to which room the children will live in.  The result being that our sweet girl ended up in the place I refer to as that room.  The room for the precious children who have more profound needs–those who struggle more than others. It’s a heartbreaking place.  I cannot even begin to describe the feelings and emotions that overcame me each day I walked into that horrible room to take my Hailee out of her crib. Hailee was one of just six children.  It’s hard to tell whether the others are boys or girls.  The children there are dressed in whatever is available on the day, and their hair is kept ultra short for convenience.  Most of you who have journeyed with me throughout this adoption know that Hailee was drugged–day and night.  On the day I met Hailee I was given all her medical information (which was all of two lines), and told that she was on medication for “best sleep”.  Um, yeah, the kind that kept her so sedated that she could barely function. A strong tranquilizer for ADULTS. All in the name of “best sleep”. Unfortunately, I am sad to tell you that Hailee was not just an isolated case, a child who had behavior problems that justified the drug.  The drug was required for every single child in that room. The children there cannot function.  They sleep most of their lives away.  They are so sedated that they can barely keep their eyes open, even when they are awake. They merely exist from day to day. I cried like I have never wept.  Looking at their sweet faces just about killed me.  I was not allowed to pick the children up out of the cribs.  But each day I walked around to each one of those precious souls lying there and gently stroked their faces and rubbed their frail, malnourished bodies.  I longed for them to know the joy of a tender touch.  It was something they knew absolutely nothing about.  Not once in all my weeks of visiting did I see any of these children picked up and loved. Never! Even crying children, longing for arms to hold them, never got picked up and loved. They were taken out of the crib ONLY to be fed and changed. How do I know these things?  Because the Lord gave me a window to see the things He needed me to see.  He allowed my heart to break for the things that break His. Images I cannot escape. Many, many of you have written to me and asked me about what happened to Hailee here. I could not say anything at the time–our adoption could have been threatened. I still need to be cautious for the sake of other adopting families. I will say that I inquired about what happened.  I wept as I held my daughter that day–in my heart I knew that she had suffered at the hands of those who were meant to care for her, those who were meant to love and protect her. One day I could not take anymore. I had been there a long time, and the things I saw day after day were beginning to wear me down. I walked into the building and saw that there was a group of Americans working with many of the kids.  They were staff from a clinic that works with children who have special needs here in the USA.  They had taken over wheelchairs, leg braces, and many other kinds of therapeutic things for kids in a few orphanages. They did an incredible job.  It was so amazing to see. I watched them as they fitted child after child with braces. The joy of seeing many of them standing on their legs for the first time was priceless.  I looked for some of the children from Hailee’s room–but there were none.  I was later told from my translator that the clinic workers were not allowed to help those kids. Oh God in heaven, how can it be?  More than most, they need help.  They need braces.  They need to learn how to stand on their own two feet.  They need wheelchairs. Yet, they’re the one group not permitted to get the help they so desperately need.  They’re the children locked away and forgotten about. Do you want to see them?  The ones I had to leave behind?  Would you like to see the faces I looked at one last time, turned my back on, and had to walk away from…knowing the life they lead?  The angelic faces I feel so powerless, yet so desperate to help.   How will this teeny tiny angel survive a mental asylum?  How?  There is no way.  Unless a family comes to adopt him, he will surely die.  My heart cannot comprehend it all.  He is just too sweet for words. He reminds me so much of Hailee.  He too has the bump on his forehead from banging it against the bars of the crib. This little guy has just been listed on Reeces Rainbow.  He is “Wade” in orphanage 3. These children wear pajamas all day long–it is all they know. The cribs are crammed into a very little room. They lie there longing for someone to pick them up. This is no life for a child–any child.  Whether they have ’special needs’ or not, NO child deserves this.

Cliff is just one of so many children at risk, having been abandoned at an orphanage in Eastern Europe as an infant.  There are couples who are willing to adopt special needs children, but the astronomical costs are often prohibitive.  Jeannett is trying to close the gap for one special boy.  She is trying to raise $20,000 to fund his adoption, so that when parents are found for Cliff, there will be no fees involved. What a way to change a life.  What a way to help form a family for a child in need. I have a huge heart for adoption, particularly in relation to hard-to-place children.  The photos of children caged in cribs breaks my heart – every time – and yet there remain children all over the world (including the US) whose days are relegated to this kind of imprisonment.  If this stirs your heart, consider what you want to do to change this reality.  Maybe today it will be for Cliff.