Today marks two years since I first held Katie in my arms.
Two years since the shock of the reality set in.
Profound, long-term criminal neglect of the most vulnerable of little human beings, hidden away on the top floor of the orphanage.
Two years after writing this post, where does the Pleven orphanage stand?
~Many of you prayed back in the spring for a certain court hearing regarding the former director of the Pleven baby house. God did answer our prayers with a yes! The decision was made NOT to automatically re-instate the former director of the Pleven baby house. Her legal process will most likely drag on for some time, but for now, the children are protected. Please pray that justice is brought to victory in this case and that God will grant the former director the mercy of repentance.
~There are only a very few older children with special needs left in Pleven. Several have already aged out of all hope of adoption. There is a small handful of children who have not yet aged out who need to be made publicly available for adoption. Their photos will stay on my computer desktop until I hear that they are safe. Pray that their files will be obtained and families will choose them!
~In the United States, we have a law that prevents us from internationally adopting children over age sixteen. In several other countries, such as Canada and the UK, this is not the case. Approved families can adopt children up to the age of eighteen. I know one UK family who has been working hard for many months to become approved to adopt an older child in Pleven who cannot be adopted by Americans. They have already seen God intervene to get them this far. Pray that God will use them and other faithful families to bring these vulnerable children home before their time runs out!
~Plans are being carried out to transform one section of the huge building that is the Pleven baby house into a day center. Staff would care for the children with special needs during the day, and at night, the children would go home with their own families. This is a wonderful first step to providing families with the support they need to prevent them from signing their special children over to the state to begin with. Pray that God will keep doing this work until it is complete!
~More plans are being discussed to convert another floor of the baby house into a family-type setting and bring in house parents for the few older children who are no longer able to be adopted. These are children I know and could name for you. They are real people with precious souls who should not be sent to the torture of adult mental institutions! Pray that God will bring this plan to fruition!
~Rooms full of useful items have been donated by the community—developmental toys, therapy equipment, adaptive equipment—but no one has been trained in how to use it, so it sits neglected. Plans are being discussed to bring therapists, education specialists, and others who work in related fields to train the Pleven staff in the correct use of these valuable items that are sitting unused. Please pray that God will bring this work about as well!
There is talk of building a much-needed playground to suit the needs of the children. Right now there are still just a few swings for over a hundred children.
Does all this mean the story is basically over?
Two years after I first met Katie, two years of watching God bring home more than fifty children with special needs from her old orphanage, a certain little girl still waits in Pleven.
Brandi, 16 lbs. at 7 years old~
A year ago, I first posted Brandi’s photo on this blog.
Half a year ago, I kissed her face with my tears falling and a terrible ache in my heart. Oh God, send her a family to love her! You are able!
Brandi is still available for adoption. Why is Brandi still waiting?
Could it be that we have judged that she is not a valuable enough human being to justify the cost of loving her? If so, then to our shame we agree with the Pleven doctor who summed up Brandi’s life with these words, “She is inadequate.”
My friend Amy writes about Brandi,
“Inadequate to bring joy to a family? I know from personal experience that is wrong – I just kept thinking what an amazing blessing she would be to a family. Like a surprise gift beyond imagining wrapped in dirty rags – she will bring God’s blessings pouring out on the family willing to follow God’s call to redeem her.
Inadequate? Even now, the word sticks in my mouth, only to be spit out with great sorrow and washed away with tears. Can you imagine your very existence being summed up in the word “inadequate?” I quake to think of all the things we will see clearly in Heaven that we disdained here. How our hearts will break.”
If you think you might be the family to shower love on this precious tiny girl, please email Shelley Bedford at firstname.lastname@example.org!
So what if Brandi receives a family? Is the story over then?
Decide for yourself–
Not long ago, I received an email from someone who will have to remain anonymous, someone who has been living in Bulgaria and working in the orphanages for many years and recently discovered Katie’s story.
The problem is that authorities DID know what was happening in this orphanage, AND, this orphanage is better than many that we work in! The home in Pleven was NOT exceptionally bad – more or less, it is the norm. We work in other baby homes where the staff is more caring. But still, the conditions are not what they need to be. First, medical personnel simply do not view a handicapped child, even a baby with a cleft lip, [as]…capable of ever learning. The thought is, “If the body is not perfect, the mind is incapable of learning.” They still pretty much demand that a mother give her child into the care of an institution where its needs can be met. If it is found that a mother will give birth to a handicapped child and she refuses an abortion, she is denied any state aid in caring for the needs of that child!!!! In the orphanages they separate the “handicapped” infants from the “normal” ones even at birth. They lack any stimulation. The society in general view them as something animal like – without souls, even.
This is the judgment of Brandi’s society.
Do we agree with them?
Are you sure of that answer?
Why is Brandi still waiting?
Is it fear of the implications of adopting a very damaged older child like Tommy? Takes lots of time, energy and money, has many medical needs, can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t feed himself, is on diapers, lives life on the level of a little baby, engages in socially-inappropriate behavior?
And took his first IV treatment for his osteoporosis like a champ~
There is a long list of reasons qualified people give for why they wouldn’t adopt a child like Brandi. Too often, the problem isn’t that they can’t, the problem is that they don’t want to, plain and simple. They wouldn’t want to take care of a Brandi like her society doesn’t want to take care of a Brandi.
“She’d be way more trouble than she’s worth. Isn’t there a place for people like that?”
And my heart cries out, “Where, O God, are Your people to prove this evil judgment wrong? Why are we satisfying ourselves with flimsy excuses while unwanted adoptable children are being treated as we ourselves would not want to be treated?”
Look at this child again. This is Katie two years ago, three months away from coming home.
She was nine years old, wearing size one diapers. A size twelve month sleeper was big and baggy on her.
One year later at age ten she was growing into a size three.
Here she is this morning at the breakfast table, wearing a size five at age eleven. She cheerfully held her own cup to drink her morning juice and chewed up her scrambled egg.
It’s fun to see Katie’s progress, and we praise God for it, but that’s not what makes Katie a blessing.
Katie is a blessing, progress or no progress.
Tommy is a blessing, progress or no progress.
Children are a blessing from the hand of God, period. If we don’t have eyes to see it, then we need new eyes. We shouldn’t be able to bear it that people are throwing people away!
O LORD God, I plead with you, make good on Your word. Finish the good work You have begun for the cast-out ones in Pleven and all throughout Bulgaria. Break up our cynical, lethargic, self-centered hearts, give us new eyes that see as You see, and stir us to active obedience. Please show who You are through us. I am asking and trusting You for this grace in Jesus’ name! Amen.