For Mother’s Day, I decided to feature a Super Mom … She not only is a mother to amazing children… but she advocates for adoption so that cutie pies can have a mother’s love and have a family.
I interviewed (via email) Lindy and she shares with Maya’s Hope her inspiration…
Happy Mother’s Day to all…
I have always wanted to adopt since I was a little girl. My husband and I talked about it even before we were married and knew we would someday.
2) Why children with Down Syndrome?
I really cannot explain it, but I have always been drawn to people with Ds. We were in the beginning stages of our first adoption, thinking about Africa, and then I saw a photo of a little cutie online. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. He had Ds and was in Ukraine. That was the moment we changed directions and began looking for children with Ds to adopt.
3) Why did you become an adoption advocate?
How could I not advocate for these kids!?! How can anyone look at their photos, see the emptiness in their eyes, know that they have never had a mommy or daddy hold them and whisper “I love you” in their ear–how can one do that and not become a voice for them?
4) What is the one of your most special moments?
We have had many special moments with our boys–the times I see Gabe go from being a timid, scared, frail little boy, to a very happy snuggle bug who is learning to use a spoon and take his first steps. Or when I see my 3 biological children hold the boys and play with them. I melted once when we had visitors, and for the first time, Levi came right to me to be held. I knew then that he knew I was his mommy and felt safe with me.
See # 2
6) How did the Ukrainian station find you?
I was told by the interviewer that “they” (Ukraine) choose us because they said we were the perfect family. I had to laugh at that ;). From what I understand, it was the Embassy that found us.
7) What do you think is the Ukrainian view on children with special needs?
Unfortunately, I think Ukraine has a very narrow view on people with special needs. I feel that they are not aware of what these children are actually capable of. The good news is, I believe with education and prayer, their eyes could be opened. It may take time, but even Americans were putting children with Ds into institutions before the 1980’s, and the average life expectancy for a person with Down syndrome was only 28-years-old. Now, because of increased education and good care, the life expectancy is 60 years old–and I suspect that that number will continue to increase.
8) What do you think is the American view on children with special needs?
That’s a tricky question for me. I know that many Americans are more accepting, yet we still have an abortion rate of 98% of children with Ds. I would love to say that Americans accept everyone and treat them with respect, but obviously that is not so. Personally, in my town, I have felt only acceptance and love from anyone I meet when I am out :).
9) Why Ukraine?
I would have never picked Ukraine personally; not that it’s a bad place, I just never considered it. It just so happened to be where our sons were, so that is where we went!
Maya’s Hope has been incredible in giving these children with special needs a spotlight. The organization shows the world that these kids have personality; they are smart, funny, loving, and deserving!
David Platt, one of my favorite authors and pastors, says, “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes…” Maya’s Hope helps the world to know these kids’ names. To see their faces. Hopefully once you do, you will be holding one in your arms and whispering, “Mommy and Daddy love you.”
To activate English Captions, watch video in YouTube directly and click on the button below the video “CC”. Select ENGLISH and subtitles will appear. Subtitles are by Yuliya Cherepanova.
Lack of State Programs for Children with Down Syndrome in Ukraine
Newsperson: Why so many babies are still being born with Down syndrome? The geneticists still cannot answer this question. People usually treat them as sick children. But Inna Zhmut has proved that there are step-families that love those kids with special needs.
Inna Zhmud: Volodya and Denis were twice unlucky. One time before their birth, when they’ve got extra chromosome, and then in the hospital where their mother gave them up.
Alexander Mogilniy, Chief Doctor: People point at the child that looks differently. And, especially when the child is in a stroller outside, then everyone wants to look at him.
Inna Zhmud: This is the chief doctor of the orphanage, where the boys live. He’s trying to make excused for their parents. But the cruel reality is that every four of five Ukrainian families are giving up the children with the Down syndrome. Officials do not hide that they most likely will be adopted by the foreigners.
Yuriy Pavlenko, authorized officer on children rights in Ukraine: 57 children with Down syndrome were adopted by the foreign families in 2012. 56 by U.S. citizens, one from Canada, and only one child was adopted by Ukrainian citizen.
Inna Zhmud: The explanations are clear, but they are not helpful.
Roman Marabyan, Sr. Doctor at Specialized foster home of Kharkov Region: As I said, the children with Down syndrome are not excluded from the society in civilized countries.
Lindy House: Kiev, come here. Sit down!
Inna Zhmud: A dog with a nickname of the Ukrainian capital and three children from Zaporozhye. House family from Florida is one of the American adoptive parents. Word of mouth has worked. Their friends adopted the children with Down syndrome so they also decided to adopt.
Lindy House: I hope that Ukraine won’t ban the adoption. It will be very sad. The children will lose their last chance, chance to live. One of our sons has been in bed for almost 5 years! He weighed only 9 kilograms! He simply would not survive if he had not been adopted. Lindy was a photographer. Now she is with the children. Guy works in the church. They have access to free medical care for special children and special schools. And it pays off. You can see the results. No one will have the heart to say that those kids are retarded.
Lindy House: – Tell – I. Love. You.
Inna Zhmud: There is no state program for children with Down syndrome in Ukraine. That means that there are no special schools or any other help. That is the main reason of rejections in orphanages. But this family outside of Kharkov decided at least to give their attention to those children. It worked. But there are only few volunteers all over Ukraine.
Alexander Philinevich, home style orphanage organizer: They are so tender and caring. Once my wife and I were sick and they approached me and started to pat my arm and head with such touching face.
Inna Zhmud: But active defenders of the children with Down syndrome are sure that the most important is not to give up. Today, like every other year they came out with the call for action.
Try to put this necklace of color socks around your neck in the morning before going out. You won’t look normal. That’s how those children with Down syndrome feel every day. This action won’t help to find parents for those kids. It’s not the purpose. It is more important to tell the people one more time that those children are just like us, they just need a little more comfort and love.
Inna Zhmud Maxim Drabok Svetlana Shekera Gennady Anikeenko, Podrobnosti, TV channel “Inter”.
Translation by Yulia Cherepanova, Maya’s Hope superstar volunteer!