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Have you ever met anyone who had cerebral palsy? I have. I worked my first job at Subway with a kid who had cerebral palsy. A very smart, handsome guy who just had a slower gait than most people. He was a hard worker and very diligent. He eventually started working at a credit union and trained people and I'm not sure if he became a manager or not there.
Do you know what cerebral palsy is? I think many people know what the "signs/symptoms" of CP are, but they don't really understand it. It is a blanket term to cover any kind of brain damage caused at, before, or just after birth. It varies from mild to severe and can affect a person in a million different ways. In fact, I think if many of our friends, family members, coworkers, school mates, etc were tested for it, I imagine many more people than we know have some form of CP. How many babies are born each day with the chord around their necks cutting off air supply, if only briefly? I know of a handful, how about you?
Margaret, a student at the University, and her husband marveled at their toddler roaming about and learning to speak. She's beautiful! She's....Perfect. Margaret loved brushing out the soft brown baby fine hair and putting oversized bows in, then bundling her little "joy" into the pram and walking to the park in the cool Spring afternoons. She wondered about the little flutters inside her, would this baby look like her "joy"? Was she carrying another little girl, a playmate for her eldest? Or would this be her firstborn son? Would he look like his soccer playing daddy? Would he become an engineer, a doctor, a politician? Would he change the world? As the months ticked on and her belly grew rounder, the anticipation of Mom and Dad grew with it. They couldn't wait to meet their second child.
A child was born to them, full term, but with complications. A beautiful little boy - A SON! Perfect, tiny, little boy....except that he wasn't breathing. The doctors struggled to resuscitate the baby and the parents waited tearfully and prayerfully that their little boy would survive. Survive he did, but not as the model of perfection they had hoped for. He was "damaged" he was "special needs". The minutes without oxygen had caused significant brain damage and their son would be forever labeled with the term "cerebral palsy."
"He is a curse"
"Society will NEVER accept him"
"Leave him at an orphanage."
All of these things were either said or implied, but either way they left a lasting impression that the parents should BE ASHAMED OF THIS CHILD.
The parents at long last made the decision to put their firstborn son up for adoption, to terminate their rights, and leave him in an orphanage. They grieved, they grieve still. They wonder what he looks like, what can he do? Should they have left him? Did they make the right choice? They felt they didn't have a choice. They knew they could not give him the medical care he would need and were afraid he would die in their home. The knew he would be shunned, THEY would be shunned. They felt forced to make the worst decision a parent could ever make.
This little soul, a tiny 7 pounds, is driven to a cold dreary building and checked in with the orphanage director. Whisked away into isolation, until it can be determined that he does not have any communicable diseases and evaluated to know which group he should be in. This child can do nothing, he cannot suck a bottle, he will never roll over, he will never talk, he isn't intelligent - it doesn't matter where we put him. He is treated worse than most people treat their animals. He lies in his crib in pain. Hungry, uncomfortable, yearning for touch, wondering where that familiar heart beat is. Wanting to be held, to be touched, to be comforted, yet not ever knowing any of these things. He stairs through bars at the gray wall 3 feet away. He listens for the sounds of oncoming feet to signal that he will be fed, or changed, or bathed. This boy is intelligent. This boy knows. He has been given a lifelong prison sentence because he was born less than perfect in a country that doesn't except children with special needs, and to parents who could not afford his medical needs.
This is the untold story of so many little ones born into countries all over the world. These children have been given a death sentence....a prison sentence - literally living behind bars, eating gruel for their entire lives. MISERY. Their only hope? ADOPTION! Many of them will never be listed for adoption for one reason or another, but a few of them are given that chance and it breaks my heart when a child is listed as AVAILABLE and yet they wait. Our country, WE are continuing the tradition of rejecting these children because they are "too much" or "too hard."
These children deserve a chance. They deserve to have someone who will fight for them to find a way to communicate. They deserve to live a life outside of crib bars and gray walls. If you are not called to adopt, and I know that not everyone is, will you please consider advocating for a child with cerebral palsy or some other special need? Will you consider starting an orphan ministry in your church? Will you help grow Augustin's fund so that when his family finds him their financial burden will be lightened?