Sunday, October 28, 2007

"I always knew they were crazy!"

I think religious people have it easy. They can say (and believe) that God is leading them down a certain path, and that they have to follow, and that when they do follow God's chosen plan for them everything will be ok as long as they have Faith.

I on the other hand have to settle for being crazy.

Remember when I said that I've always felt I'm supposed to have a baby with Down Syndrome?

I still do. So, so much, it gives me goosebumps.

So Peter and I are seriously considering adopting a child with Down Syndrome in a few years' time.

This is a video montage from Gifts, a book written by families of children with Down syndrome. We have that book. Matilda likes looking at all the photographs and asking "What's his name? What's her name?" She asks to "look at the babies." It's all I can do now to tell her her little brother or sister will look like that one day, and say it with joy.

I have two healthy, bright children, and plan to have more.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So why would I choose to have an imperfect child?
Well, if I was religious, I'd say it's not my choice. But I'm not religious, so I have to try and explain, and know that very few will understand. (I am so lucky that Peter does. I love him for that, among many-many other things.)

Because I need to help. Because I need to love and because I can love. And because I think I should help -everyone should. Because I AM a bit crazy. Because I believe the children will be better people for knowing, loving and growing up with siblings with a difference. But these reasons are partly rationalisations.

Because I have to be true to myself. Because of this:

This is Tristan:

This is Nolan:

This is Emma Jane, and this is Emma Sage. I don't know them, but I wish them all the best.

In Greece children with Down Syndrome still commonly live in instututions. (for the Greeks, read this link. Sorry there's not an english version.) The chances of a child with Down Syndrome being adopted by a Greek are loosely summarised as "when pigs fly." (I called Mitera Foster Home in Greece to ask about the process of adopting a child with special needs. They were very helpful, and told me that they have two little girls with down syndrome that they're trying to place at the moment, but they don't expect to succeed.) The ones that do get to go home with their families have minimal support from the state. In most areas and for most people, no early intervention, speech or physical therapy programmes are on offer, unless the parents can afford to hire a private trainer/therapist (and few can.) When children are mainstreamed to a "regular" school, rarely is the curriculum adjusted to meet their needs. Greek legislation states that mainstream schooling is the desirable option, but in reality, luck of funds, resources and understanding makes this a distant dream.

The Department of Special Education of the Ministry of Education reports that the programme of parallel support, meaning shared or inclusive education and co-teaching, is implemented only in exceptional circumstances when students with special needs study in schools withinclusion classes. It is estimated that the number of children with intellectual disabilities integrated into mainstream schools is less than 1,000, which is very few, given the country’s size and the population of students. It is reported that the number of inclusion classes in primary and secondary schools is not sufficient, and there is lack of financial support to staff these classes with trained teachers. In addition, school directors may be hesitant, at times, to integrate children with intellectual disabilities.Furthermore, many parents are reluctant to accept a second special teacher in the classroom, due to their ignorance, prejudice or fear of stigma for their children.

Many students with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities are placed in special schools, while most children with more severe intellectual disabilities have little access to education at all. Although materials and adapted curricula have been developed, the individual needs of students with intellectual disabilities are not met in the classroom.
(Taken from the 2005 monitoring report produced by the Open Society Institute (EUMAP and Mental Health Initiative) in cooperation with the Association for the Psychosocial Health of Children and Adolescents. Summary found here.)

Sometimes, there are bright exceptions.
(This is Ioakim. Go and have a look at his web page.)

But most are not that lucky. And it's such a crime to waste all this potential for love, laughter and learning.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

You may say that you are not religious and I am not sure if that means you do not believe in God. But after reading your thoughts and explanations about adopting a child with Ds..... God Believes in YOU!! I hope that you do not take offense as there are so many religions and beliefs but I think in all things there is a higher power no matter what we call it.