Question from a faithful blog reader:
The situation is probably more complex than I know, but can you help me understand (knowing you may be limited)? Why can’t Joel’s foster family keep him? Wouldn’t that be good for him to stay with people who already know and love him and speak the language he knows?
Answer from Joel’s foster mom in China:
When a child turns fourteen years old in China, he or she is no longer able to be adopted. At all. Since Joel cannot care for himself, he will be a ward of the government and likely go into a government institution. We have ASKED if we can continue to foster him after the age of fourteen years [his fourteenth birthday is early in January 2018], and his director has not yet given us permission or wanting to even talk about it.
The problem with long term care for him here without him being adopted is he cannot travel for medical care or help. This is the problem we had with [another foster son]; we couldn’t get him a visa out of the country to get him medical care. Joel’s seizures need attention and help that he cannot get here. He also needs a school that can help him. He has never gotten the help here that he has needed. We give him love and what we can, but it’s nowhere near what he needs.
Also, we are required to go stateside every couple of years, and there is NO place for him to stay when we do this. If and when we moved to the States or to another country, he would again be stranded here in an government institution.
This is between you and me, [description of how Joel was treated at the orphanage]. There is another boy, five years old, here at this orphanage with the same autism and seizures as Joel, and they just sent him to a crazy hospital where he is now locked up 24/7. We had been trying for years to foster him as well, fearing that this would be his fate. A few months ago they sent him away, and we haven’t even been able to visit him since.
Joel understands English and Chinese. He is smart; the way he looks at books, I think he can read both [languages] as well. It appears he can read a clock. He is STILL not toilet trained, although the last two days he used a toilet which is HUGE progress.
My mom visited and met him in the month of December, and she said this yesterday about him,
‘The thing that made me fall in love with Joel was watching him interact with the three babies you have in the home. When they were on his favorite rug, he would tiptoe around the rug and go look out the window, or sit on his favorite couch and wait until they moved, and was always very gentle and loving towards them, never even accidentally hurting or tripping over them.’
He squeals and moans–both happy and frustrated–but is non-verbal.
He does a couple basic signs, one for ‘all done’ and another for ‘eat.”
He feeds himself.
He is left handed.
He sleeps in a regular bed and LOVES to have his own bed after years of a portacrib. He sleeps on his back with his hands behind his head and the blankets pulled over his face—very cute.
He loves texture and rubbing heads and giving kisses.
He loves to stim by flipping books. His one naughty thing he does is steal a book that isn’t one of his to flip. He has favorites but usually always exercises self control with those forbidden favorites. He loves to eat and will sometimes steal unattended food or drinks as well (coffee is a favorite! he is not allowed).
He can put his own shoes on and off and wash his hands with prompting. He will pull up his pants when they start to fall down if we tell him to.
He hates changes.
He can open doors but usually doesn’t, which is very nice, because I don’t worry about him going outside or even out of his bedroom if the door is latched.”