August 3, 2010 by Marj Hatzell
This weekend Bug Boy went camping with some of my family members (family reunion. No, I didn’t go. I watched all of their dogs.) so it was much quieter around here than usual. By much quieter I mean you could hear a pin drop. It turns out that Bugaboo is the quieter child by about infinity miles. Go figure.
The weather was absosmurfly gorgeous. Low humidity, warm, slight breeze – the stuff dreams are made of. Like parts of the west except we have trees here. And cicadas. Boy howdy, do we have cicadas. Little buggers go at it all day for crying out loud. Anyways, what was my point? Yes. Beautiful weather. We spent plenty of time outside doing yard work and the like. Which meant Bugaboo wanted to swim and jump on the trampoline. Which meant he got tons of gross motor exercise and went to bed when he should have and slept all night (and slept in one morning until 9:30. Yes, I took his temperature). I could get used to that.
Since Bugaboo went to bed on time, I got a bit lazy in the evenings and put the laptop on my lap and basically didn’t move until it was time for me to go to bed. So I spent time catching up on some news sites, perusing blogs, you know, what normal people do? And then I’d check a blog for their blog roll and randomly select another site and then they link to another and so on. And then I somehow end up reading about someone I don’t know from Philly. Which is funny since I start out reading a blog about people in South Africa.
Most of the blogs I read are about children with disabilities. If it isn’t children with disabilities it is people adopting children with disabilities, or adopting in general. I don’t know why, I am currently obsessed with adoption. Might be because I have family members and friends who have regularly adopted. Might be because I’m a mom and I love being a mom and I’d love to be more mom and cannot birth more children and I have a huge heart and want to adopt. Who knows. Yes, I’m nuts. I thought you knew that. No, I don’t have enough on my plate.
The tough part about reading this stuff is coming across the children with disabilities in other countries. You think people with disabilities have a bum rap in our country? Try seeing what they do with children like mine in Eastern European nations. Not even third world nations, my friends. I haven’t gotten that far, yet. We’re talking about places with cars and food and cell phones and computers and internet access. We’re talking about places where people with disabilities are not valued to the point that it is felt they do not have any positive contribution to society and therefore are warehoused in horrific institutions. And I don’t mean just adults. I mean CHILDREN. Children like my children. Children whose parents didn’t think they had the means to take care of them or were embarrassed or lived in a tiny, remote village with no doctors or access to schooling. So they leave them at baby houses and then when the kids get to a certain age they are shipped off to be with the big kids. We’re talking about children who spend all day, every single day, in small cribs. Strapped down. Never go outside. Never play with toys. Don’t learn to eat by themselves or use the toilet. Don’t leave the room they are placed in for many, many years. And then they are sent to mental institutions where they are hosed down by the dozen in mass showers, sit in their own waste for hours a day, in the same four walls. And that’s if they survive the baby houses.
Children with disabilities in these countries often don’t survive the first few years. They are malnourished and not well cared for. They never get hugs and kisses from their momma. Their Daddy doesn’t let them sit on his lap when he cuts the grass. They don’t jump on trampolines, go swimming, go to school and swing on their favorite swing in the backyard. They are lucky if they learn to walk, talk, feed themselves. They develop institutional autism. They rock for hours and hours a day to soothe themselves or hit their heads on the bars of their cribs repeatedly.
Unless someone chooses to adopt them.
I can’t get it out of my head. I cannot stop thinking about it. These are CHILDREN. BABIES. No one takes care of them. Sure, they get fed a few times a day and someone wipes them down and changes their clothes. That’s about it. I’m fairly certain a child like Bugaboo wouldn’t have made it to the age of three. Not with his issues and medical problems. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate living in a place where kids like mine at least have a fighting change to do SOMETHING in their lives. That they are valued and loved and cared for. And every time I complain about not having something for my children that I think they need? I’m going to think about children their same age, sitting and rocking themselves to sleep in mental institutions. There’s no Mommy there to kiss their boo boos and make it all better. There’s no Daddy to give them a bath every night and kiss them and snuggle with them until they fall asleep.
Look, I’m not trying to depress you. I’m just trying to make you aware. Sometimes people go through life and are totally ignorant, have no idea about the world behind them. They just plow forward in their perfectly happy little life and don’t look back. I want you to know that situations like these exist. Children and the disabled rot in these places. In our country it isn’t much better (don’t get me started about what I was reading about the foster care system, it’s corruption and the children who are abused, molested and murdered. It’s terrible). But take a look at some poor Asian countries, some poor African Countries, some poor South American countries. It’s worse. Much worse.
I don’t know what can be done. Adopting every kid isn’t an option. There has to be a change at the governmental level. It takes time. It won’t happen over night. But I know that when Bugaboo gets home from his awesome school on his favorite school bus and comes in the door to have his snack before going out to our shady, green backyard to jump on his trampoline? I’m going to give him a kiss and be thankful that I have the means to give him a good life.
As you were.