Friday, June 8, 2012

A New Holocaust~An Interview with a Family Breaking Down Walls~The Children (Post 5)

We all have people in our lives that are an inspiration. Though I've never met Eliz in person, I pray someday I will be able to give her a HUGE hug.

With her UBER awesome large family, she still found time to send me a handmade prayer shawl while we were in the process of adopting Jael.

She, and her husband Tom, stare down the monster of excuses not to adopt and shred every aspect of them.

*They are not too old at 55 and 58 years old.
*They are not rich, easily being able to afford adoption. They rely on the Lord to provide where HE has led.
*They don't have a mansion where no one shares rooms.
*They are not always comfortable, but often (gladly) sleep deprived.
*They have many blessings and don't say, "That's enough!", but trust God. They don't say, "Stop blessing me!"

Inspiration is the only word that works here. That's what they are.

You can find their blog by clicking the link below.
"The Road 'Down' Home"

Eliz, through her busy life, kindly agreed to answer some interview questions.  Her perspective is unique. They recently brought home two blessing with Down Syndrome from Eastern Europe and are in the process of bringing home three more. These aren't their only children, they also have adult children, teens, younger kids, and children in Heaven as well.

1. What brought you to the point of pursuing the adoption of your five boys from Eastern Europe? 

We were not accepted for any adoption referrals in the United States.  Younger families were always chosen over us and large family restrictions for many states disqualified us. So we looked to the Internet and researched. We have LOVED and cared for many children/adults with Down Syndrome. We have adopted 2 beautiful children with DS.

We were drawn to the kids in other countries with DS. We saw they were not valued. Then we learned that by age 4 they were put into Institutions where 98% of them died before reaching adulthood.

We also saw a video of a 6 year old girl with disabilities, who had an obvious broken leg left untreated in an Institution. They showed her "before" the Institution picture, coming from the orphanage. She was actually 10 pounds heavier but the same size. She was so cute. Now she was just sitting in bed with a broken leg, dying day after day.

We SAW, we could not look away. We found an Eastern European Country willing to work with our family. Shortly after someone posted on a Reece's Rainbow forum that Julius & Pauly were in the same orphanage and available in our Country! I almost fainted! I knew they were my boys!

Side Note: Their sons Julius and Pauly arrived home this last year and they are currently bringing home three more special needs boys (that I just wish I could snuggle by the way).

2. Do you know anything about the conditions Julius and Pauly resided in within the orphanage?
                                            Tom, Julius, and Paul on his first trip to meet them.
Their orphanage was poor, very few staff. It was super clean (too clean) like kids don't live there. Tom had to wear the paper hospital booties over his shoes in the "therapy" room for visits. He wasn't allowed to see much.

The able bodied kids got to get out of bed. Julius & Pauly stayed in cribs. We could tell Julius learned how to receive attention doing "naughty" things. And Pauly shut down into his own world.

The staff said "Pauly was serious." But much to their shock by day 2 of Tom's visits he was laughing hysterically! And that really is how he is, there is no serious bone in his body. He's very silly! He was so happy to see Tom!    

 3. When Julius and Pauly arrived in your home what was  their condition?  

They were small, Julius wore a 2T and Pauly wore 24 months. They were under 30 pounds (about 24 and 27 pounds). They were thin. I could carry them both together. They looked like 18 month old babies. They were both 4 years old.

Pauly couldn't walk, but could stand. Julius could stumble around to furniture pieces. They were weak.

They groaned and made moaning noises 24/7. They were never quiet! They would grind their teeth continuously- hard! They gave no eye contact.

Julius fought everything. Julius was not affectionate and hit. Pauly would repeatedly hold is hands and arms in odd ways, stiffen his entire body and slap his face over and over. Julius did not like Pauly at all. Julius liked to destroy things... grab lamps, toys, etc.... and throw, stomp or break them. Pauly sucked his hands and drooled everywhere.

When they had stimulation overload they'd shut down and drool. They were terrified of going outside. They thought all visitors were coming to get them and take them away. So they tried to escape from all of us. Just typing this makes me sad. 

*We can't "tell" them it will be o.k. they have no language. You have to show them by getting up and doing the same thing day after day, until they see that they are free!

They only ate pureed cold food before. No sweets and they couldn't chew.

They knew how to get angry reactions from others easily. They were "trained" to expect angry responses.

It really is hard to be patient. They were not used to being "loved", they fight it. That is a huge challenge, to have patience day after day. They knew nothing else.  They don't give up. It's all they knew. We were asking them to change!   

 4.Can you share their sizes now? 

Now they are both in 3T clothes and weigh 32 and 34 pounds. Pauly gains weight very easily. Julius can eat twice as much as Pauly and not gain weight. Sorry, I just don't get time to measure and weigh!

Side Note: Just that she has time to answer my questions is more than stunning! :)

5. Can you share behaviors orphanage life created in your sons that you have worked through and are still working through?
Still working on teeth grinding. They will do this when bored or stressed or angry. But way less often.

Drooling, Julius drools and spits "for fun", Pauly drools buckets when angry.

Pauly's autistic gestures (etc.) are a constant battle. Keeping him present with us, getting eye contact, having him relax.... it's a full day of saying "Pauly!!" :o)

Pauly rarely slaps his face anymore!! Yeah!! We think the trauma of Pauly's heart surgery caused him to develop Institutional autism. Being in an orphanage he did not receive one on one care or love after a very BIG heart surgery. No one was there to console him or see if he had pain. (cry) No one held him. Now we are teaching him that we are here for him. It's a long road.

Julius had learned that getting hit or hurt was funny. He is learning to cry now and see that we show empathy here.

Walking is practiced daily.  Julius walks now! Pauly is still working on it...he shuffles! He has to "look" when he walks or he trips.

They had no clue how to play with toys. Julius can manipulate lots of electronic toys now and has favorites! They both love things that play music.

Julius shares now, before he'd over-power anyone to grab or hold on to a toy. He has "his" toys now. Some days he likes that, other days it means nothing.

They sleep sitting up.  We lay them down, but they end up sitting. They will not sleep while traveling...they are "hyper" aware, but sleep great at home now. They used to be up all night... yelling, moaning, groaning, grinding teeth, slapping.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things- so much has changed! We have our new normal! I love it!
 
6.Can you share the difference that being in a family has made in their lives? 

They are no longer alone! They will never be alone again! They are learning what LOVE is. They have a life!! (Outside of a crib!!!) They will know Jesus!

7. How did their new siblings respond?

The younger sibs at home are crazy about them! Isaiah is happy he's no longer the baby! He loves being a big bro!

The adult sibs think we're nuts. :o( Our adult kids still frown on us doing this at "our" ages. I think they thought "they" were all we'd have and we should just enjoy them! ROTFLOL!! 

8. What are Julius and Pauly’s personalities like ?

Julius is incredibly bright and picks up on people and things quickly. He likes to be very independent and that makes teaching him hard. He likes to do everything his way and likes to learn on his own. He refuses to sign or mimic sounds. But yells a garbled turkey type gobble when he's frustrated and wants to talk. We have heard him secretly make sounds in his bed!!

Pauly is just love. He loves hugs and tickles and lots of kisses. He's slow and methodical about everything he does. He gets angry and pouts avoiding everybody. He will accidentally mimic a sound- his favorite is "yaaaaah-yaaaah" He doesn't sign or respond to sign. He is introverted so much. Tom will think Pauly doesn't know what's going on around him, but then (in reality if you watch him closely) he lets you know! He gets it!

They are unlike any other children we've ever adopted. They are 100X harder to relate to, but once they learn they can trust you- the JOY is like nothing we've ever experienced. It is worth all of the sweat and tears!

 Both boys are THRILLED to have a Daddy! They adore Tom and they get it that they want to be like him not mom!! They also get that Dad is easier to get away with things with and mom catches on too quick!

9. Your husband has just made the first trip to meet your three newest sons. Can you share about (without jeopardizing anything) conditions where they are? 
                                                       Left: Jacob, Right: Noah, Tom is holding Moses

I think it's safe to say they are in Pleven. An orphanage with a history of very poor care, would be putting it nicely.


Side Note: This is the orphanage that Lilliana is still at.  Also the orphanage where Katie was at.  These are all children listed in previous posts.


I say history because they now are making changes, we hope for the better. The government there is not happy about the care they had there. We picked these three boys after we completed Julius and Pauly's Dossier Nov. 2010. We had learned so much about orphans and Institutions by then that Tom was fired up and ready to go back as many times as he could! :o)


But we had to complete Julius and Pauly's adoption first. So we looked through all of the available boys (boys are picked the least) in our Country and tried to pick three very needy boys. Soon after we picked them and committed, Katie's family came along and the news broke out about the orphanage where Katie AND our 3 boys were.


We were shocked.


Their listings were not correct. One boy was listed as not being able to sit unassisted. He however looks very good and can sit. He's very bright, but he cannot walk at age 7. He is the size of a 3 year old and very afraid of strangers.


Our 2nd son was listed as "healthy", but he has fetal alcohol features, institutional autism, is self abusive (pokes eyes and pulls eyelids out), and can't walk at age 9. He is the size of a 3 year old.


The 3rd boy IS in great need. He's 7 and cannot bring himself into a sitting position. He can't walk and is the size of an 18 month old. Tom was shocked when he held him and he had been even thinner in photos last year. :o( However he is the happiest little soul we've ever seen! Especially in conditions that should make him act otherwise.


When Tom met them his heart was crushed. He was so in love but he would have to leave them. It was harder to leave these 3. Our hearts ache to get them home. Tom was not allowed to see much there, but another family there now is being allowed to briefly see our boys along with her daughter!


Our prayer is for every child there to have a family. Tom wants to go back there and find a daughter. The kids there aren't being listed fast enough. We don't know if we'll find her. :o(

10. Can you share about concerns you may have for the challenges these little ones will have to overcome? 
The orphanage behaviors will be X3. That will take TONS of patience and love! We wonder how Julius and Pauly will react to hearing orphanage sounds again!

Our 9 yr old Noah is low functioning, we will only expect him to learn to stop his self abusive behaviors. Anything else he wants to or can learn is a bonus. We hope he can learn to walk- we don't know. We hope he'll want to learn- we don't know. We'll love him regardless.
                                                  9 year old Noah and 7 year old Moses
Our 7 year old that is quite bright, Jacob, we hope he can overcome his fears of people. We hope he can learn to use his strengths and we hope he'll walk and talk.
                                                                         Jacob
Our littlest is Moses.  He is 7 also. We hope we can fill his life with half of the joy he has already filled ours with. We hope he can learn to get into a sitting and standing position and walk. But if not we'll just feel more than blessed to have them in our lives.

We hope they can learn to love being an Archer boy! Praying, reading our Bibles, singing hymns, going to bed peacefully (instead of fitfully living in cribs), and participating in life with a Glorifying God purpose! Just like big bro Samson and our group home gal MA.   

Side Note: Did I not mention they also RUN a group home and MA is their treasured extension of family. 

11. Can you share the timeline until Noah, Moses, and Jacob come home?  

We think Sept. or Oct. but we're not sure! That is by using Julius and Pauly's timeline and adding extra time because they may be slower since new officials were elected.

12. Do you have anything you’d like to say to Christians out there about the needs of those left behind...the needs of the world’s orphans?

Absolutely!!! Wake up Church!!! HELP!!

Send clothes, send donations, send money, send encouragement, send anything to the families adopting the kids, for the kids!!!

Do it for the kids!!

Don't think, "Why give 'them' my money?"  It's for the kids!!

Don't think you have nothing to offer, donate your stuff, sell your stuff! We all have too much stuff!! ;o) Do something!! :o)

That's my thing, we have to do something. These are God's children! Perfectly and fearfully made!

We will never stop doing what we can to help the next family and the next.

My adult kids have homes and food and clothes. These kids have nothing! I didn't buy birthday gifts for my granddaughters this year, I donated the money and told them, "Grandma and Grandpa love you but you have so much already."

Our own kids have received a new brother or sister as a gift when that's where the money needed to go! It's harder now though, the economy is tough, but God will make a way! If you live near an adoptive family- help them!!!
~~~~~~~~

Kat~Can you tell why I sat and cried this morning when I opened up the return email? 

I am not over-exaggerating what is going on.  The conditions of these boys, if raised in a happy family, would have been drastically different.  We can't change the past though.  These boys have such hope now.  So much WILL be overcome.  It's amazing what love and family can do.  It's ASTOUNDING what GOD can do.

Now, here's a chance to help.  Eliz and her family did NOT ask me to say this, but they are not fully funded.  If you click on the following link, you will see a "Chip In" button on the right side of the page.
"The Road 'Down' Home"

It is our privilege and honor to help bring these children home.  This is God's work my friends.  I have five blessings that would not be here except for the generosity of those surrounding us.

Eliz, thank you for the honesty and what an inspiration you are to us all.  I pray God uses your words to convict hearts around the world.

Please remember Nicky (picture at the side of this blog) who faces an institution next year. This cutie needs a family NOW!!

If you wish to read the first post of the series, you can click link below OR go to "Kat"agories and click on "A New Holocaust~The World's Orphans" to view all posts of this series. A New Holocaust~The World's Orphan

5 comments:

  1. Hugs to you both, Kat and Eliz! Wonderful thoughts, and so much experience and inspiration to share. Loved reading it, and can't wait for your precious boys to get home and soak up the love of your family. They'll shine like Pauly and Julius!

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  2. Aaaaaw! Thank You so much Kat for sharing our boy's story! We will always find time to tell and share about these precious children! We can't adopt them all, it breaks our hearts there are so many- so we are thrilled when we can help others adopt them too! Every little bit helps a child find a family and a life!
    (((HUGS)))

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  3. I was honored to meet Elizabeth, Tom, and their kids on Memorial Day !! We were in the area for a soccer tournament, so just had to go by and meet them. Their kids are great !! Julius and Pauly are just too adorable for words :) I cannot wait to go back next year and meet Noah, Jacob and Moses !! :):) ~ Jenny

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  4. How wonderful to read about the Archer family! They are truly blessed and special indeed. Since we are also adopting from Pleven, they are particularly close to our hearts. Thank you for writing about them!

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  5. LOVE her responses!!!! AMAZING!!!

    Makes me so upset we can't do international adoptions... :( BUT praying!!! Because YES everyone can do something. And of course we will be doing adoption again here :)

    ReplyDelete

In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright shove...no matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the momentum...it is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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