I want to share with you something I have been thinking about. If we are pro-life people, does that change our moral obligation to children? If we talk about the value of every human life, are we therefore responsible for those lives? I think maybe we are. But the more I think about it, the more obvious it becomes that our duty to the least of our brothers happens even in the absence of any pro-life debate. How can I ethically justify not doing whatever possible to save a human life, if I have the opportunity and the means?
Three years ago, I had to have a hysterectomy. I grieved long and hard about not being able to have more babies. Danny told me not to be so upset. He told me that it was all going to be OK, that we would adopt babies. He had it all worked out. We needed to adopt a girl. “Because our ratio was wrong.” He thought that the girl we adopted should have brown skin, because we didn’t have anybody with brown skin in our family yet. And he told me that we should adopt a baby with Down Syndrome. Because, according to Danny, after William and George, we were experts about Down Syndrome. Oh my goodness, that made me laugh. And cry.
So my children and I learned all about adoption and Down Syndrome. There is a waiting list more than 300 families long wanting to adopt newborns with DS in the United States. But meanwhile, in many other countries, children with DS live. And die. In institutions. It turns out that advanced cancer makes a family ineligible to adopt. But once I learned about these children, I knew that even though we could never go over and rescue any ourselves… I knew that we had to be involved, that we were morally bound to save these lives in any way we could.
If you are feeling really brave, watch this video. I need to tell you that I’ve not been able to see the whole thing. Ever.
If you want to learn about the life of a child in an institution in Eastern Europe – with a happy ending – go see my friend Susanna’s blog. She was brave. Even more brave than watching the world’s most disturbing video. She actually went to one of those institutions, day after day, and rescued a little girl. Their Katie, at nine years old, weighed less than eleven pounds.
Our children asked us why our military special forces guys couldn’t just swoop in with attack helicopters and rescue all the orphans with Down Syndrome and bring them here… some things are just really hard to explain, especially when there aren’t any good real answers.
One thing that’s hard for me to wrap my mind around is why it costs so much to rescue these children. On average, it costs about $25,000.00 to save one child’s life. Some countries are much more expensive. To make a long story short… actually, that’s not true. Once we figured it out, it was a short story. Because of my cancer, we aren’t allowed to adopt children, even to rescue them from these institutions. Other people CAN adopt them, but can’t afford the ransom. Can you hear the bells and see the lightbulbs?
So we decided that we would help one family each year. Quietly. Until this year. This year, we found a truly amazing family that I can’t be quiet about. Can I introduce you to the Archers? Elizabeth and Tom Archer live in Minnesota. They have been married for 35 years, and have adopted 13 children. Five of their children have Down Syndrome. And more: They have opened their home, and their hearts, to older disabled people, and currently have two ladies with DS living with them. The Archers are trying to rescue three more boys. These are boys that NOBODY else wanted. They have DS and fetal alcohol syndrome and profound neglect and failure to thrive. They’re not like George. But the Archers take the Gospel imperative seriously. And Dixon and I are going to do whatever we need to do to help them out. But because they’re rescuing three boys, not one, AND because I just couldn’t be quiet about somebody who really, truly was doing something so amazing, I want you to help, too.
Here, in their soon-to-be mama’s words, the three boys whose lives we are going to help the Archer’s save:
Val/Moses is a very sweet 7 yr old boy with Down Syndrome who is very tiny. He is about 11 pounds. He likes to interact with people. He cannot sit up by himself. He was very sick last August and needs to come home soon.
Teodor/Jacob is a precious boy who is 7 and has Down Syndrome. Very ittle is known about him other than he is very shy of people and spends alot of time in a crib. He can sit, we don’t know if he can walk yet. He looks to be small but not too thin like Moses and Noah.
Steward/Noah is a beautiful 8 1/2 yr old boy who has Down Syndrome and fetal alcohol features. He has a “Baba” from the Grandma program that cares very much for him. She helps him learn to walk up stairs and drink from a cup. Noah is very tiny for 8 1/2 years old.
I don’t understand exactly how she’s managing, but despite the average cost of each international DS adoption being $25,000, Mrs. Archer says she only needs about $30,000 to rescue Moses, Noah and Jacob. So if most everyone who checks my blog every day (even when I haven’t posted in a week) donated 20 dollars, we will save three boys’ lives.
Hopefully, sometime in the next few weeks, Mr. Archer will be able to fly to the boys’ country and meet them and start the local legal process to adopt them. Then, a month or two later, he and one of their older sons (Gabriel) will fly back again to pick up the boys. Mrs. Archer can’t go, somebody has to stay home to take care of people there. So we need to work quickly here. But $20.00 each shouldn’t take too long.
Except I also need three people to each donate $404.00 for visas for the boys to legally be able to get into the US.
And I need one person to donate $720.00 for a government (our government, not theirs) form called a I800. Our government charges that money to decide if a family can legally adopt a child from another country.
And I need three people to donate $50.00 each for exit physicals for the boys, required by the US embassy in their country to allow them to go to the US. This seems really silly to me, we KNOW they are sick and fragile.
One family has already donated enough frequent flyer miles for Mr. Archer to fly to the boys country for his first trip, and for one ticket for the second trip. So we still need money for Gabriel’s ticket for the second trip and one way tickets home for the three little boys. One round trip and three one ways to Eastern Europe… I don’t even want to look on the internet to see how much that will cost.
Did you know that it costs $85.00 per adult to get fingerprinted for security clearance to adopt internationally? And not only did the Archers have to get themselves fingerprinted, because they take care of adults with Down Syndrome in their home, they had to take those ladies to get fingerprinted, too. But we don’t need to raise that money, the Archers already paid for that (and lots else…)
The Archers are doing everything possible to economize. They found a hotel with a small restaurant with a meal plan… if you prepay for all your meals there, it’s very inexpensive. Rather than fedexing all their paperwork to this country, they have networked with other adoptive families who are a little further along in the process to take various documents over with them. It’s far cheaper to send notarized, apostilled paperwork to Pennsylvania or Ohio than it is to Europe. The Archers have lived so frugally for so long so that they could afford to open their homes to children that nobody else wanted… I’m not sure I could ask my friends to help a family that wasn’t already doing so much to sacrifice to save these boys lives… but the Archers…. I can’t even find the words to express how totally in awe I am that a family can be living out what the rest of us just talk about.
So here’s what to do:
If you want your donation to be tax deductible, click here, and you will go to their family page on Reece’s Rainbow. They are a 501 (c) 3 organization just for international DS adoptions. The only downside is that the Archer family can’t access these funds until their second trip, despite the fact that most of the adoption fees are due now.
So, if you don’t care about the tax deduction part, you can donate through this thing called a chip-in. It goes through paypal, and goes right into a special account for the Archer family adoption fund. They can access these funds right away. WordPress won’t let me put the donate button right into my blog, so go to Mrs. Archer’s blog, and on the right you can find a chip-in button.
We divided the money needed in half, one for each account, so you can use whichever one works best for your family. And both will show how much we’ve raised, so we can keep track of our progress. Just to let you know, I won’t know who contributed what… I don’t know if Mrs. Archer does either. But the Reece’s Rainbow folks will, so they can send you a tax receipt.
If you can’t contribute, don’t worry. We are going to make sure these boys’ lives are saved. Well, actually, you can go ahead and worry, especially about Moses. His condition is dire, and he needs to be here like yesterday. And pray. Prayers of intercession on behalf of the boys, and prayers of thanksgiving that there are families like the Archers who are ready to save them.