As discussed in the past couple of programs, good parents stick up for their kids. Sometimes, though, kids do their own advocacy. Here are some pretty unbelievable “excuses” submitted to schools. Click on the image to enlarge for reading.
See the entire list here.
The Focus broadcast about being an advocate for your child reminded me of a time many years ago when my parents stood up for me.I remember the day rather well. There we sat, my Dad and Mom and me. Across the desk was an imposing figure, who was shocked – shocked! – that my parents would dare question her authority. They were quite clear, though, that she had done something unacceptable. They demanded an apology.
This grade school music teacher had made fun of me in front of the rest of the class. Dad didn’t take that too well (of course, neither did I!). He arranged the meeting with that instructor. It was most uncomfortable, but boy did that moment send a message to me.My parents loved me enough to confront a teacher on my behalf. They were my advocates. They would defend me against injustice. They looked out for my interests. It took their time and plenty of emotional energy, but I’m so grateful for the way they modeled good parenting that day.
Thanks, Dad and Mom, for showing me how to be a good parent.
And, dear reader, I wonder if my experience stirs up any memories for you?
I owe a big THANK YOU to my lovely bride for saying, “Yes!” back in 1984. That day will forever be etched in my mind…and heart.
Sitting at home before joining some friends for the Thanksgiving meal, I am reminded of the rich blessings God has given our family. We enjoy so many gracious gifts from our heavenly Father, none of them deserved:
- Our five senses to enjoy the sights of a wintery Colorado day, the myriad of smells wafting through the house, the many delicious tastes we’ll indulge in today, the joy of the delicate way in which a warm fire can touch our faces, and the sounds of children playing together in the other room.
- Family scattered around the country, people we’ve loved for so many years and feel so close to, despite the miles between us (that includes our oldest son, off with a classmate for the weekend, and away from us for the first Thanksgiving in 19 years!).
- Friends around the world with whom we have shared laughter and tears.
- The ability to work, and to have an incredibly meaningful and fulfilling job.
So much for which to be thankful to God! Psalm 100 reminds us to thank Him for all His good gifts. I hope you are able to do that today. And every day in the coming months.
Thankfulness itself is a gift, right?
Hard to believe it has been 20 years since the first “Odyssey” episode. Today’s broadcast is a testimony to the ways God has used this programming in so many lives around the world.
Here’s a link to the Adventures in Odyssey website, Whit’s End.
(Conclusion of a thread started last week)
I’ve written about two boys, Artem and Savkin. And yet, I’ve really told you about one boy, our adopted son. Zane’s given name was Artem, and he was born in Russia at just 26 weeks gestation. His prematurity meant some struggles, and we knew about some of the possible problems he might face when we brought him home at nine months.
What we did not realize, though, was that he has autism. That condition would not have been overly apparent at 1 year of age, but by two or three, it would have been painfully obvious to those in the orphanage. His autism probably would have meant he’d remain at the orphanage, and then at age four, he’d be sent to an asylum. That would be the world he’d remain in for the next 12 to 15 years, and perhaps for the rest of his life (however long that might have been).
We are so grateful to God for this boy, and for the entire “package” that is Zane. He is energetic, he is funny, he is intense, he is quite a challenge at times. We know a bit about his past. We know about some of the physical things he has to wrestle through. We know some of the emotional pain he has been through as an orphan.
About his present and future, this much is clear: Zane is a beloved member of the Fuller family, forever. He is a gift to us from God. He is a child of the Father who formerly had no one to call, “Daddy,” now he in a “forever family.” He is hearing about Jesus. He is seeing the Gospel message lived out daily. We pray one day soon he will commit his life to Jesus.
For tis one orphan, life has changed. There are still 143 million kids in the world who are in need of families and love The world is full of Artems and Savkins. Orphans who are either healthy or perhaps suffering from a physical, mental or emotional challenge. Either way, the statistics indicate little to no real chance of a successful, fulfilling life. Certainly most orphans will not have a life in which they will encounter the Gospel and have an opportunity to find eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Unless you do something.
A story I’ve told before, about the beginnings of our adoption journey, came up in that FamilyLife Today interview on Monday. Here’s a brief portion of that discussion:
Bob (Lepine): When do you remember adoption coming on the radar screen in your marriage for the first time?
John: Yeah, yeah, it was – it actually started before the word “adoption” came up. We had five children, and I was loading them up to go out to the car to go to church, and I stood at the front door, and I held it open, and it’s not like we have this orderly family. Normally, it’s chaos, but I’m counting. In my mind, I’m just kind of going one, two – and people that don’t have four or five kids don’t always understand that but sometimes we just have to kind of count and make sure we have them all.
Bob: We get them all, yeah.
John: And, one, okay five, and I paused and I looked down at the ground, and I looked up again, and I thought, “Is that all? Just five? It feels like somebody’s missing.” And I couldn’t really explain it, but I told my wife about that.
There’s a lot more to our story, and I love sharing it with folks.
Do you have an adoption story to tell? Let me know – submit a comment for us to read.
Not too long ago there was an article in a Russian paper about a baby house where kids with defects live. A few days later the readers wrote a reply, that these kids should be killed. “We don’t want to see them,” they said. What a disturbing sentiment, devaluing life and seeking to avoid confronting handicapped individuals.
That same mindset came out in an article published in a Moscow daily in 1993. A letter appeared in a leading Russian weekly from the mother of a child with Down syndrome. The letter was entitled, “Why Coddle Such Freaks?,” and it included this line, “I am asking the doctor to put my (handicapped) child to sleep. (Why) let them live?”
You can see that there is a lack of value associated with any individual who is not “normal,” and that life is not given any inherent value. This, of course, is a reflection of a godless government and culture, which still is part of the fabric of Russian society. It is a humanistic philosophy that devalues life.
Against that backdrop, a child who has no parents to defend him or her, and who has a physical or mental handicap, will not thrive they may not even survive.
I say “survive” because an international advocacy group that has researched conditions in Russian orphanages indicates that
…these orphans are at significant risk of premature death. One leading child welfare advocate in Moscow told Human Rights Watch that estimates from government figures indicate the death rate in these asylums is twice the rate in the general population. He also knows one asylum where he said that the death rate rose to as high as three and a half times the rate in the society outside its walls.
Additionally, a national statistic from the Ukraine indicated that
“approximately thirty percent of all severely disabled children in special homes—a staggering figure—die before they reach eighteen.”
Back to the story of Savkin, which I started yesterday. He was a boy who was diagnosed – at age four – as a heavily disabled child, labeled an idiot and placed in one of the many asylums in Russia. There he stayed.
So you see, with a handicap, Savkin’s hope for any normalcy in life is pretty much erased. He won’t be educated adequately, he won’t receive treatment for his ailments, he won’t be eligible for adoption, he will instead be sent to an asylum for the rest of his days.
And even if Savkin is born “normal” in every way, with no apparent handicaps, statistics indicate he is not likely to become a healthy adult, and instead will likely go on to a life of crime, drugs, prostitution – or all of those.
Not a hopeful situation for anyone to be in.
See you Saturday? As Adventures in Odyssey celebrates its 20th anniversary, both the Focus on the Family Welcome Center and the Focus Bookstore are having some special activities on Saturday, November 17.
- Prizes for the first 100 kids
- Adventures in Odyssey video showings
- “Answer That” game demonstration
- Meet the Odyssey characters
- Meet the Odyssey creators
If you are in the Colorado Springs area, stop by Whit’s End between 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The Bookstore will be open 9:00a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Let me tell you about another boy, Savkin. He had a number of physical challenges as a result of being premature. He went into the neonatal ICU, where he was treated for a severely low birth weight, a lack of normal responsiveness to sensory input and underdeveloped lungs.
He recovered fairly well, and was put in an orphanage at a local hospital. Weak and suffering from unknown conditions, he didn’t interact much with nurses, didn’t exhibited some unusual behaviors, such as lack of eye contact and lack of vocalization.
As he grew into a toddler, Savkin had trouble with physical coordination, and displayed little ability for communication and socialization – did not make eye contact, was unable to verbalize more than a few words, and displaying little tolerance for other people. He became more and more isolated.
I should tell you about a child like this Savkin, an orphan with a disability. The Russian Ministry of Education puts each child under its care into one of two group, those with no disabilities, and a second group contains children diagnosed as lightly disabled, and officially termed “debil.”
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development takes charge of orphans who are diagnosed by a board of state medical and educational reviewers as having heavy physical and mental disabilities at the age of four.
Such children are confined to cribs, staring at the ceiling. They are fed and changed, but deprived of real meaningful one-to-one attention and sensory stimulation and are not encouraged to walk or talk.
Officially labeled “imbetsil” or “idiot” at age four, a diagnosis they will suffer from for the rest of their life. They are committed to closed institutions which often resemble Dickensian asylums of the nineteenth century.
Human Rights groups have visited these asylums, and report seeing children who were considered “too active” or “too difficult” being confined to dark or barren rooms with barely a place to sit. There were other harsh treatments observed, but I won’t go into any detail here. It will suffice to say that children in the Russian orphanage system who have handicaps are not well cared for, generally.
Savkin made it to the age of eighteen, but when he was moved onto an adult asylum, again removed from public view (Russians generally don’t like to see the disabled, preferring to keep them isolated from society).
A boy without a future. If only someone would care.
There are a number of ways you can do something tangible to care for the Savkins of the world. Get involved, pray, give, go. If your heart is stirred, take a leap of faith, and check out the suggestions for orphan care you’ll find here.