Tuesday Terms: Child Collector

By on 1-18-2011 in Child Collector, Tuesday Terms

Tuesday Terms: Child Collector

This column will be the discussion of a term that is used in child welfare or adoption.

Child Collector is a provocative term that is used to label a person based on his or her behaviors, not the size of their family. In other words, parents of large families do not get labeled in this manner unless they are exhibiting these behaviors. Child Collectors endanger children by putting them at risk for neglect and abuse. This definition is important to understand before we delve into the subject of dealing with difficulties of adoptive parenting and the help some adoptive parents are seeking (and that many adoptive parents should be seeking, but aren’t). Sometimes, adoptive parents reach out to a child collector as the last resort to provide respite or re-home when no other support option is available or affordable.

An adoptive, foster or respite parent is a child collector when she/he:
Adopts several unrelated children at the same time or within a short period of time.

Focuses on adding to the family above stabilizing and effectively rearing the current children in the family. Purposefully adding to an adoptive family when the family dynamic is not stable or effective will harm both the current and new members. This behavior includes spending umpteen hours online looking for another child instead of tending to the ones already in the house. The child’s needs should be the focus, not the collector’s desires.

Has no significant source of income other than state subsidies or SSI and uses collecting children as a means of income.

Expects older children to assume the primary care of the younger children when either the older or younger children are not stabilized. Asking a child to assume the bulk of therapeutic parenting skills is unconscionable.

Allows children with known traumatic and abusive backgrounds or those at risk of having traumatic and abusive backgrounds to share bedrooms with other children. Physical and sexual abuse can and will occur. When it does, families are destroyed and children further harmed.

Has a number of adoptees in the household that exceed the capacity of the parents to individually attend to the stabilization and treatment needs of the adopted children. Most foreign countries and many foster care agencies have limitations to the number of children in the household for a reason. They want a good outcome for the already at-risk child that they are allowing you to raise.

Does not consider the size of their home relative to the number of children they are raising. These families think it is just fine to put children on a porch or other room that is not an actual bedroom just so they can accommodate more children.
Does not concern themselves with adopting out of birth order. The old concern about this was whether or not the older child would feel strange being placed in a home with younger kids or whether or not the current elder child would feel bad having that position in the family change. The new concern involves the risk of older children that have a traumatic and abusive background being adopted, thereby giving them a dominating position to abuse the younger children. Again, this has happened manytimes and devastates the family and community. This is a taboo subject that we will have a lot more to say about.

 

Has a martyr/savior complex. This means that the adoptive parent feels that they can handle any number of children with any amount of issues because they are “saving” the children. The idea of “saving” is put ahead of the actual responsibility to the child.

 

Uses his or her faith to justify any or all choices about the number of children in the home. Fellow worshipers may often offer support without understanding what is really going on in the home. 

Does not seek to understand or deal with racial issues because she is focused on her feelings about being a large “rainbow” family rather than how the child feels ina large “rainbow” family.
Excuses or discounts any reports of unethical behavior or trafficking of children in various countries from which children can be adopted, as the act of collecting is more important to the collector than whether or not the child is a legal orphan.

For those that exhibit the above behaviors, there are some additional characteristics that put children at risk:

 

Home-schooling the children. This keeps the prying and concerned eyes of school officials and child protective services away from any problems in the home. This is not a sweeping judgment of home-schooling, only its use as a tool to keep children isolated, as well as to keep neglect and abuse hidden.

Living in a rural or isolated area. As with home-schooling, this living situation makes it more difficult to have any oversight over the family or identify abuse or neglect that may be occurring.
Moving from county to county or state to state. Collector families have been known to move once child welfare officials begin to investigate.
REFORM Puzzle Piece

58 Comments

  1. Thank you for this definition! I was trying to explain it to a friend the other day and couldn't find enough criteria to justify my position. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  2. Stacy,
    Thank you for your comment and understanding our intention to help educate people to some of the issues that go along with searching for post adoption support of behavioral and mental health issues.

  3. I want to add that just one of the above can make someone a "collector". They don't have to meet every criteria. It is scary how many are out there!

  4. I have a late addition to the above post. We are seeing more and more collector families also involved in dog breeding. I could speculate on the reasons and psychology behind this, but will wait until more public cases surface.

    • Check out nachalaadopt.blogspot.com. The PAPs breed dogs and blogged about a nasty incident wherein the weimareiners they breed bit several children. Dogs didn’t have the proper vaccinations/healthcare and were temporarily removed.

      (the pap was nonetheless approved to adopt 1 kid from Bulgaria last year and is now adopting 2 more Bulgarian RR kiddos. Denise Davis also blogged about not taking her kid to the dentist, him getting an infection and spending weeks in agony due to inadequate medical care).

  5. I found this profile (Fitch family) in Reece Rainbow Page.
    Before 2011- 3 bio kids
    2011- 3 adoptions (no details)
    2012- 1 adoption started but not completed due to severe SN + 1 SN adoption + 1 bio kid
    late 2012- started adoption of 2 siblings + 1 unrelated SN kid
    Who is the adoption agency authorizing it???

    http://reecesrainbow.org/42818/sponsorfitch-2

    • Scary. I can’t say who the homestudy agent is or the placing agency or reps of the US or foreign governments who are complicit in this. They took their blog private because some people apparently were posting concerns. Typical! Know that in all of these cases there are usually 3 to 4 other entities complicit Sometimes Reece’s facilitator acts as agent, sometimes not and homestudy agent usually is different and the two governments. They all like to put their head in the sand on the issues. That is why it is scary.

    • Reece’s Rainbow is really, truly horrible for this. These RR PAPs often go “homestudy shopping” — a homestudy agency tells the PAPs they won’t be approved to adopt, say, five unrelated kids with severe SN simultaneously so they dump that one and hire someone who will approve them for the high risk # of kids they want.

      • That is why NATIONAL MANDATORY STANDARDS must be part of the solution so they can’t homestudy shop

        • You’re preaching to the choir! The PAPs (like this RR Sarah Basile who is adopting her third SN kid this year) who are collecting kids seem to be really really good at ignoring all the sane people they know.

          Sarah writes “I’m getting more familiar with the “YOU HAVE GOT TO BE OUT OF YOUR MIND” eye-popping looks we have gotten from some when we announced our intention to adopt a third child with special needs. I admit, it still makes me uncomfortable when I know people are staring at me thinking “Holy Crap, what in the world are they thinking here?” 

          This is the point where she pays the sane peeps no mind. She’s got an audience of ONE (Jesus), which totally justifies the child collecting. Not!!

          Proper standards to save folks like this lady (and the poor kiddos they adopt) are needed to save them from themselves. ASAP!!

          http://hopefulheartadoption.blogspot.ca/2012/10/standing-for-something.html?m=0

          • I would actually hold off on calling Sara Basile a CC. She adopted Zoya more than a year (possibly two years?) before adopting Mila. Yes, she’s going back for number 3 a little quickly, but from what I’ve read she also has a lot of experience caring for individuals with special needs, particularly Down syndrome. What really raises a red flag for me is when completely inexperienced, naive adopters continue accruing child after child within a very short period of time. The Basiles seem to know what they’re doing. This might very well be a red flag, don’t get me wrong, but I think it’s way too early and we have way too little information to make that call.

          • Leah – Sara Basile’s blog notes she brought Zoya home in 2010, Mila home in 2011 and is on track to adopt Kid #3 less than a year after bringing Mila home.

            Why can’t Mila have, say, a WHOLE year to settle into her new family before the Basil’s bring home yet another unrelated kid? On her blog, Sarah mentions she and her husband have been browsing the RR photolistings and nearly committed to a DIFFERENT kid, before a supernatural being told her to go get the one called “Zofia” on RR.

            In my opinion, Sara is definitely a child collector (and would count as one JUST for bringing home 2 unrelated kids inside 12 months) — and based on the list above, she qualifies as a child collector due to:

            CC1
            CC2
            CC5
            CC9
            CC10
            CC12

            The Basiles’ hit a TON of Red Flags to boot, specifically:
            8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 29, 34, 35, 50 & 53.

          • are you all seriously this unhappy and bored with your sad lives??? I guess its better for a child to stare at the walls in an orphanage than to have a loving home. this is one of the most disgusting blogs i have ever read….im sorry whatever happened to you that made you not able to wrap your minds around love….so so sad.

  6. I think part of what causes this attitide is that people get the same reaction at their first SN adoption. Other people think they are crazy. Then that adoption goes well and they see the child doing great, so they go for another. Then 2 more. And so on, but since they got the extreme reaction the first and second times too, it doesn’t register as a legitimate concern.

    • But it should register as a concern for the licensed social worker that goes ahead and approves the situation and the placing agency, US embassy etc.

    • This is a really good point, and touches on the major issue I have with using the reactions of family and friends to special needs adoption as an accurate barometer of the appropriateness of that adoption. We live in a fundamentally ableist culture. Having a child with special needs is seen as a misfortune: why, then, would anyone CHOOSE such a child through adoption? Clearly the APs must be out of their minds. Concern over these adoptions may very well come from a place of bigotry against those with physical and intellectual differences, not a genuine and objective assessment of the APs ability to parent such a child.

      I think Galit is absolutely right that because of the questionable nature of these initial reactions, adoptive parents might (understandably) continue to dismiss the concern of those around them — even when it becomes absolutely warranted and appropriate.

      That said, if even your social worker is questioning further adoptions…you really, really need to listen!

      • It is an interesting point. What we have seen over the years is an addictive personality often coupled with a hoarding/acquiring problem when it comes to child collectors. They don’t care what friends /family/neighbors/social workers think about their next adoption pursuit. It is all about the high they get from acquiring the next child. That is different from maternal/paternal instinct which can be very strong, but not addictive. In extreme cases this continues until abuse or neglect is uncovered and stopped or an explosive divorce occurs or something else that knocks them out of their “must get another child” obsession.

  7. What is scary is that there is no standardization between different agency. For example in my area there is a very ethic agency that doesn’t allow two active adoptions at the same time (if the kids are unrelated), doesn’t accept an application for a second adoption before the 6 months post-placement period and the adoption is put “on hold” in case of pregnancy. Few miles from here, in an other state, an other agency can authorize the adoption of 7 kids in 2 years in a family with a newborn (!!). How can different agencies have parameters so different when deciding which conditions are more likely to ensure the best transition for a child in a family?

  8. This RR family adopted a little girl with DS six months ago – and is headed right back to adopt TWO more UNRELATED girls with significant SN:
    http://inmamasheart.com/2012/10/09/trust-your-heart-and-go/

    The family is “trusting their heart” and a supernatural being. Why, why, why do folks like this get approved to adopt?? Is it really so HORRIBLE to allow the kid that JUST GOT HOME, say, more than 180 days to settle into her new family/life/language???

    Legislation is the ONLY way to stop this kind of thing. The authorities MUST save these folks from themselves (AND the poor kiddos who inevitably are harmed by the failure of the authoirities to do so in any meaningful way).

    • It really is as simple as the needs of the child need to be focused on instead of the desire of the PAPs. The Savior mentality is so much worse than the “saving” but it is such that the PAPs feels that ONLY THEY can save the child–that this is the only option in the world for the child–that no other person could possibly be good enough for the child but them.

      I would go further to specify that FEDERAL legislation is the only thing that is going to take care of this. There is a debate among reformers whether state or federal laws should be made and I have become increasingly on the side of Federal law as the years go by.

  9. Oh and I am wondering if any of you have adopted???

    • Erika, you clearly have not read any of this blog if you are asking this question. ALL authors here have adopted.Yes, before you ask, we have all visited orphanages too. And if you actually read any of the site, you would know that we do not advocate for children to stay in orphanages. Quite the opposite. We want the best kinds of placements for them. This particular column outlines high risks for children. Your comment about wrapping our minds around love…I have no idea what you mean. We all have loving relationships and gasp! with our kids too!We would like to see that at-risk children get that same outcome.

  10. I’m curious about whether you see the simultaneous adoption of two related children to be as problematic as two unrelated children. It seems to me that it whether or not the child were used to each other would matter more than whether they shared genes. Wouldn’t two unrelated children, adopted together from the same groupa, be less of a cause for concern that related children who had spent years in separate orphanages?

    • The underlying concern is with attending to the needs of each child -the movement is a trauma in and of itself. That is why we use the term “risk” so often here and also why we would like a *true, individual assessment of each situation* by someone not making money off the situation. We do not use the phrase “guarantee for failure”.

      If a sibling group can be together safely, that would be ideal and I think that in general that should be strived for.Knowledge that a child has a sibling is not always understood at time of adoption or possible in international adoption. Siblings placed into orphanages at different times may not end up going to the same family for all kinds of reasons and sometimes agencies lie about siblings. Foster care has a poor record of keeping siblings together but most states now have some kind of regulation that addresses this even though it is not always followed through on.

      You are correct to recognize that siblings are separated in care often and in some cases they may not have ever met prior to being adopted together in an international situation. I know cases just like that. I know cases of disruptions because one sibling preyed on another…actually many cases. You are asking which would be riskier, if I could make some general statement.I guess I won’t be able to satisfy you with an answer because I don’t have a complete hierarchy of risk. The way we have observed things over the past decade or so is that the two, unrelated children request is usually made by the client/PAP or offered by a ministry and the reason usually is lower cost or more “saving” of children or the clock is ticking on international adoption and there is a fire sale on some agency-allotted set of children not because they have assessed that the children should be together. Most children are not really asked their preference (Personally I would like to a system where mature children get to pick the parents instead of the other way around) or are prepared to be adopted. Anything is possible–I can’t rule out that there isn’t some scenario in which unrelated children are asking to be placed together in an international situation. That should not be a rule or something to strive for, though.

      Can unrelated children in an orphanage bond? Yes, of course. Should they be allowed to remain in touch with each other if they are separated? I would say yes to that too.

  11. A very reasonable response. I wasn’t asking you to come up with a hierarchy of risk – just curious whether in the references to “multiple unrelated children” the the concern was genetics or familiarity, and that question you did answer.

    • I do want to add that when it comes to healthy genetic relationships, siblings will have longer relationships to each other than parent-child due to the ages being closer. If you read reunion stories of adoptees, so many of them are trying to find siblings.

  12. The Reece’s Rainbow Family that JUST simultaneously adopted 5 unrelated kids from Bulgaria, all of whom have special needs? The 5 kids whose adoption was completed in July 2012? That now has 18 kids, all but one with severe special needs? They’re going back to Bulgaria to adopt THREE more UNREALTED children with SEVERE SN!!

    If they’re allowed to adopt, they’ll have 21 kids! TWENTY-ONE kids!! All but 1 adopted and with severe SN:

    http://godsrainbowsinourlives.blogspot.ca/2012/10/commitment-paperwork-who.html

    Who can these folks be reported to? This is a DISASTER in the making!!!!

    • I don’t know if it would do any good, but either Dept of State or Bulgaria Embassy. DOS: AskCI@state.gov Bulgaria embassy contact info http://bulgaria.usembassy.gov/conscontact_acs.html

    • I thought I’d chime in since you all enjoy discussing me. lol I really don’t mind you talking as long as you get your facts straight. 🙂 I do have 18 kids and we are working toward bringing three more home. If the term “child collector” makes someone feel good, then they can even use that. I’m a loving mother with a wonderful loving family that works well. We live in the middle of a neighborhood that is close enough that we can walk to church (bc it is easier than loading 18 kids in the car when you are collecting children I guess, but could be bc we enjoy the walk with the kids too). We have had to jump through many extra hoops for our adoptions and do so willingly, because I believe that there should be lots of “checks” in place to make sure that children are being kept safe and placed in safe families. I gladly sent extra letters of reference and an extra letter from a professional who isn’t involved in our adoption. Our medical providers are thrilled about our adoptions, because they have seen how well our children do. We worked with the same foster/adoption agency up until now and switched WITH a positive recommendation from them because international adoption is not their norm. We’ve had numerous workers CHOOSE us to adopt from foster care and were chosen out of 75 families interested in our 12th child.

      You are correct that we only have one biological child (I do appreciate that you all at least know enough about adoption to use the proper terms). We adopted 12 from US foster care. Many of those have at least one sibling who we adopted at the same time. Only 3 of those do not have a bio sibling with us.

      I do take issue with the fact that you say all but one have ‘severe special needs”. That is just untrue. Most of our children don’t have any needs that you would even notice if you met us. We have children with high functioning Autism who you’d never know had any needs at all ever and will grow up to live completely normally in society. They HAD needs when they arrived that were thought to be much more severe than they were because no one had cared to work with them and they’d had no stability. I have kids who have Down Syndrome, but that is not a “severe” special need either. We can go out to eat without incident of any kind. All except for two of the more recent kids can eat completely independently and all 18 can sit through the preaching service with wonderful behavior. I doubt that many children get along as well, behave as well on outtings, or love each other as much as mine do. Several of my kids do not have special needs at all! No diagnoses of any kind! The ones that do certainly don’t deserve to be lumped into a “severe” label. Go LOOK at my kids and tell me about their “severe” special needs: http://lifeofthemomofmany.blogspot.com/2012/10/pictures-times-20.html

      I really don’t need your approval. I have lots of supportive people who know us and have watched our children thrive. I’ve worked with many social workers from several states over the years as we adopted (we’ve not moved the kids were from out of state) and never had any negative comments or reviews from any of them.

      I’ll agree that some social workers will approve people that I wouldn’t approve. I’ve seen adoptive parents that I wouldn’t leave my dog with! That doesn’t mean that we all fit into that category or that our number of kids qualifies us for these categories. I would lump all birth parents together because of the mistakes and wrongdoings of a few!

      Do as you wish though. Just know that my kids don’t fall into the “severe” category. I’ve read your discussions on me and really could care less until you talk negatively about my kids. While you ponder how wrong it is for children to come to us, go see the difference that ONE month made: http://godsrainbowsinourlives.blogspot.com/2012/08/some-one-month-stories.html That little boy who weighed less than 12 lbs and couldn’t support his head when upright is now sitting up, crawling, pulling to a stand, and take steps while I hold his hands. The other three children we are hoping to adopt deserve the same chance. The process process takes more than a year, so unfortunately they will have to be without a family that much longer.

      Now back to your regular scheduled bashing without all the facts I’m sure. (I really could respect the list of things that should be considered as things to thing about and your list of things to watch with an agency is even pretty good, but there are some adoptive parents that you are dead wrong about.)

      • Wow. I’m sure each and every one of your (current) 18 children is getting tons of individual attention — so much that it totally makes sense to adopt 3 more kids immediately.

        I mean, who wants to give the 5 kids you JUST brought home individual attention or allow then more than a few months to settle into their new life. It is imperative that you go get more children IMEEDIATELY!!

        Although it is great to hear that yiur just home children are doing great — they’ve got a 1:9 caregiver:kid ratio in your house. It’s better than the Pleven orphanage, but not by much. Really. And soon it’ll be 1:11.

        Obviously, you have tge lord on yiur side, so the high-risk totally irresponsible approach you’ve taken to adopting will work out OK! Because why on rather would you want to ensure that rack and every one of your kiddos has the very best chance of successfully integrating into yiur famiky? Why truly give each and every kid you’ve adopted the love of a momma and a poppa that will spend more than a nanosecond with them per day?

        • The wait time on adopting is anywhere from 6 months to 18 months, depending on the location and whim of that country. If they have a SW that sees the children constantly and sees that they are flourishing, I don’t see a problem with starting another adoption immediately. These children are DYING everyday and those who have fewer children (or perhaps no children) do not seem to be the ones stepping up. So, yes, those who have God on thier side are the ones to step up, to save a life.

          • In what place do social workers see the children constantly?I have seriously never seen someone try to argue with this point. Where in the world have you gotten the statistic that those that have fewer children aren’t “stepping up”? The super majority of people adopting internationally do not have child collector levels of children. Why do you think that the only option is dying or IA. Can you not see that other options are possible? Those that have God on their side? Wow. You really don’t have a clue how insulting you are, do you?

      • So, with absolutely all respect, but when I see moms adopting this many children, I have a hard time seeing how such a family doesn’t resemble the institutional setting they left. I mean, some of them were part of smaller groupas in their orphanages. There are about 12 to 16 waking hours in a day. Divided by 18 kids comes to about 45 minutes a kid – not counting any time needed for basic life necessities at all. I just don’t get it.

        • Danielle,
          With all due respect. If you believe that these children the comment you made about the childrens lives being like the institutional setting they left”… well it’s obvious you have no idea at all what that institution was/is like. I’ll give you a hint, though. In their country, the press nicknamed the orphanage “the orphan’s Auschwitz”. Their home life is NOTHING like the hell they left.
          Educate yourself, please. Don’t just make assumptions based on stereotypes and anti-adoption propaganda.
          Get involved. Learn about these children and the lives they live.

          • Lisa,

            I am well aware of the sometimes horrendous conditions in some of the orphanages around the world, no need to patronize here. On your end, it would be equally erroneous to make the assumption based on propaganda that all orphanages are kiddie Auschwitzes. That really insults and does a disservice to all the wonderful and dedicated orphanage directors and workers who make it their life work ensuring that their baby house is a warm, supportive and stimulating place.

            The stories of neglect, abuse, torutre and sometimes even death that hit the media and which are featured here tell of children being directly transported straight into situations which could definitely be construed as Auschwitz-like. Starvation, hypothermia, beatings…. They get quite creative, just like the worst of the camp capos.

            Clearly, I am not suggesting that all AP’s do this. But some clearly do, and clearly the behavior is precipitated by the unique adoptive situation at hand. – particularly when the family’s emotional and financial resources are strained.

  13. Amanda – Thank you very much for posting and we appreciate your comments.

    Could you be kind enough to explain something for us. Can you tell us how you manage your household. We are legitimately curious because we all have children with varying degrees of SN and often have trouble managing our homes, relationships, childrens’ trips to doctors and specialists, taking them to school, taking them to outside activities, taking them to worship, etc. We know how stressful, expensive, and worrying it can be.

    For example,

    How do all your children get to school?
    Who supervises the homework?
    What happens if one child becomes quite ill (like with the flu) – how do you cope? What if you have to go to the ER – who watches the kids?
    How do you take all the kids to doctor’s appointments – you’d need a bus!
    How many bedrooms are in your home?
    Who watches the children when you take prolonged trips abroad to adopt? (We know it can take a while.)
    Who watches the other children when you take children who need therapy or other services to their appointments?
    Do you still walk to church if the weather is awful?
    Are any of your SN children capable of living on their own as adults? If not, who will take care of them when you’re older?
    How much of your medical expenses is covered by insurance (we know how horribly expensive this can be!).
    What is your plan if one or more of the children suddenly needs surgery or psychiatric treatment and will be in a hospital for a long stay – who will take care of this child and who will take care of the other children?
    Are you prepared to deal with a situation if there is any sexual acting-out among the children, which sadly can happen in large families?
    Etc.

    Thank you for any information. It will be much appreciated.

    • I’m glad to answer questions.

      My children are homeschooled, so they don’t go anywhere. That means that they have my attention all the time and in every aspect of their day. We had a wonderful working relationship with our public school, but chose to homeschool bc of things that other kids are allowed to do that mine will not ever be allowed to do and that I don’t want them exposed to. Our school special ed director came to me and said that one of my children was losing ground in 1st grade (she was the last I pulled out bc she was still in a lower grade then and those things weren’t an issue yet) and that she thought that I’d want to know that she would do better at home where others behaviors weren’t affecting her education and distracting her. They were all ver supportive of us homeschooling and have even written letters of recommendation for adoptions for us noting how well our children do.

      My husband works in a managerial position with a flexible schedule. He can flex his schedule as needed. If you notice on our Gods Rainbows in Our Lives blog, we recently had a situation arise where one of our newest kids had an issue with a sedation medication given for an ECHO. He took off work for that and did the following day as well. My mother would have taken off as well, but I didn’t let her know until her work day was over because we had it all covered. Our kids ALWAYS come first and we have a large support system of people who would be very willing to come help, but have not needed it due to my husband’s flexible work schedule.

      When sickness hits here I have a chart that goes on the fridge to make sure that I never have to wonder who had Tylenol and when. I wrote that down even when I only had two children, bc it is a very important matter that I don’t want to ever make a mistake on. We recently had a stomach virus going around and had disposable table cloths down on the floor with everyone piled in watching movies together. A few years ago they had swine flu and sick kids were in bed quite sick and we turn some rooms into “sick rooms” and others into “well rooms” for that kind of severe sickness.

      My husband works some days and some evenings. Regularly scheduled appointments are made for the mornings that he is home. I only take a few kids at a time that way. Today Aleshia had a regular appointment and I took the other 4 younger girls too so that all could get their flu shots. Afterward I drove through McDonald’s to get pies and ice cream and took it to my grandparents house as a treat for all doing so well and a little special time with grandparents. 🙂 After that I took the 5 younger girls to Walmart and we got some new Christmas singing characters along with a few things we had to get. Then since it was a day out without the boys they got candy bars and pop to eat on the ride home (I know not nutritious treats today, but it was a “Little Girls’ Day” and little girls love special treats). We did this on a Monday bc my husband is off on Mondays.

      We have 10 bedrooms in our home. Our kids prefer to room together, but I am careful who rooms with who. New children arriving are never put in a room with children who are smaller than them or who can’t adequately express any concern. They are put in with older children who I can fully trust or in a room alone until I have time to access the needs of that child. Thankfully I have lots of older kids who are doing well and I can trust. I still have on bedroom that is completely empty. The plan for the new children is in place for them to share rooms with current children as they are all small, but I always like to have the option to change that plan and will do so as needed.

      Our trips abroad have never had both of us travel. We have not up until now had any reason to both leave together for an international adoption. We have travelled together for in country adoptions before. We have family and friends who know our children well and have watched them for a few days if necessary. Bulgaria only requires one parent to travel.

      We do not walk to church unless the weather is nice. We have a 15 passenger van and a minivan that we drive if needed. Walking is our preferred method as we all love a good walk.

      Most of my children will live independently as adults. Our oldest two daughters are 19 and 20 years old (we aren’t new to adoption and adopted our first child in 2001). They live here at home with us because they are not able to live completely independently. We do not even get social security for them (though we will likely need to if our private insurance quits covering them at 21 I think) because we haven’t needed assistance for them right now and haven’t applied.

      Our private insurance is good and we just have copays. Most of our children do not require more than a check up once or twice a year with specialists that are beyond our normal primary provider. This could change at any time and if so then we are prepared. Children adopted from foster care do keep a medical card that covers copays or therapies that sometimes are not covered as well with private insurance.

      As far as extended hospital stays, we would just deal with it like any other family. Brent would take time off work as needed and our support system of family and friends would help out just like any other family would do.

      Sexual acting out is something that every adoptive family should think about. I guess even nonadoptive families should think about it, though it isn’t as likely of an issue for them. We have always had precautions in place and eyes wide open. We have had lots of training both through agencies as well as through various professionals through video, book, and research. I pray that is not an issue here in the future, but if so then we would deal with it as needed and appropriate. Sexual acting out can happen in any size family. While in one way more kids gives more probability in numbers, it also gives less time in which two children would be alone to have that issue occur. I prefer children to sleep three to a room because of the lesser chance that it would be an issue where no two children are alone in a room at night.

      As far as overall schedule, I actually stagger when they go to bed and when they wake up. Older children get up earlier in order to have more quiet time before the younger ones get up. It gives me more opportunity to attend to their more intense learning before the younger kids are up. I also have different children who enjoy different things. No two kids here are alike! That means that different children enjoy different things and have different things they enjoy doing with us individually.

      As for the person with all the snide remarks, I won’t have the new children home tomorrow. The process itself in the country we are working with takes a year or more! My children have more time with me than most children in society do with their parents. I am with them all day and every day. I don’t work outside the home and they don’t go to school to be away from me all day. Most kids don’t get home from school until 3:30 in the evening and some later bc of extra curricular activities. They then have homework, baths, dinner, and bed . . . with a little time with mom and dad thrown in. That isn’t the case here! I do everything from breakfast through bedtime snack with them. I know every aspect of their lives. Our children are always wanting more siblings. They love and enjoy each other. They know their special place in our family and are secure in that. The newest family members still have about a year to settle in before the next children will arrive. If they were having any trouble adjusting, then I wouldn’t have restarted now.

      I can understand how our life would be hard for a mother of 1, 2, 3, or 4 kids to understand. I guess even a family with 9 might not understand it. lol Large family life is different. My children don’t argue and fight (no wasted time refereeing) bc they can go play with someone else.

      When my now 17 year old son came to us he was 7 years old. He asked us if we were going to adopt again. We just told him then that we didn’t know and we had to get them settled in and a new normal worked out (he and his bio sister made 4 kids plus one we fostered for a while, but we quit fostering bc we needed our kids to know that our house wasn’t one that you could have to leave). He said to us “Well please do, because I know what it is like to wait and I know there are a lot of other kids waiting”. We told him then that we would continue to adopt as long as we could have everything organized, safe, and a normal family life. That is still how things are here! We got to Great Wolf Lodge, zoo trip, zoo lights, homeschool co-op, our to eat, and have a normal family life . . . just on a bigger scale.

      It is NOTHING like an orphanage or a groupa. We LOVE them and are their 24/7 caregivers. We aren’t going to quit or get fired. They are our WORLD. They adore each other. They have a last name that they share (oh how big a deal that is to the kids we adopted from foster care!). They are a part of a group and couldn’t be replaced. There is always food that is THEIRS without any need to hoard or fight or sntach. There are plenty of “I love you”s and plenty of kisses and hugs. We are a family and we function as a family!

      I am open to questions and criticism. I don’t need people to agree with me. I know how our family works and that is enough for me. My main problem was with the misrepresentation of my kids. I have great kids and they have worked hard with us to overcome so many things that use to be issues for them. I have kids who use to spin in circles with Austistic traits galore who have worked hard with us to overcome that, which allows them to go into social settings and their “special need” go unnoticed. They surely don’t deserve the setting of “severe”. According to how you classify “severe”, I may have one or two who are currently here that grow up to still have ‘severe” needs, but most have needs that aren’t noticed. When we went through Walmart and the doctor’s office today, no one was saying “look at those severely disabled kids”, they were saying “look at those beautiful and well behaved little girls”. Don’t sell my kids short.

      Ask me questions and I’m glad to answer. If you don’t understand and want to label me a “child collector” who is doing some horrendous thing by bringing more children into a family who you can’t view as good, then that is your choice for sure and I’m not even going to own that to be offended. Don’t label my kids as “severe” to try and make it look bad though. I’m sure you can use your other points without labelling my kids unjustly.

      I’ve read through some of the things on this site recently and in the past. Some of it I would say “so true” “Bravo” (what my little Bulgarians would say), but families are a case by case thing. Lumping all of us together makes your “right on” things less credible. Still within your right to choose that, but hoenstly mislabeling kids is just not ok.

      Thanks for your time.

      • Amanda – Thanks for answering the other poster’s questions… and I’m hoping you might be willing to answer a few of mine too:

        1) You said that you expect almost all of your kids to live independently as adults. Does this include all your kids with DS? More specifically, does this include the 5 beautiful children with DS (and severe neglect) that you adopted from a truly horrible Bulgarian orphanage this year?

        (There are two reasons in asking:

         i) many, if not most, adults* with DS require some lifelong assistance, ie are not able to live 100% independently.

        ii) Susana Musser – who adopted her darling Katie, who also happens to have DS,  from the same awful Bulgarian orphanage as some of your kiddos – has blogged that Katie has cognitive impairments as a result of the severe neglect she survived and will likely never be able to live 100% independently. The Burman family has blogged similar things regarding their daughter Carrington, who has DS and was severely neglected in her Ukrainian orphanage)

         *nytimes.com/2011/07/31/magazine/a-fathers-search-for-a-drug-for-down-syndrome.html?pagewanted=all

        2) Let’s say 2 of your 5 newest kids are unable to live independently as adults. Who will take care of them after you and your husband die?

        3) Does the provider:child ratio in your house meet your state’s day care licensing standards?

        For example, I live in NY and The ratios by age are:
        6 wks – 9 mos    1 provider : 4 kids
        18 wks – 27 mos    1:5
        3 yrs –   1:7
        4 yrs – 1:8
        5 yrs – 1:9

        http://www.daycare.com/newyork/

      • Amanda,

        Thank you again for answering a question so many of us are curious about.

        At 18 kids and counting, your home is basically a group home, particularly as its a mix of unrelated kids. If I lived in such a residence, I would definitely feel I lived in a group home. That doesn’t mean it’s not a nice group home, but as far as feeling parental love and a warm and intimate family structure, that is not how it’s going to work.

        If you ran an official, licensed group home, you would be in violation of several codes, most notably the child to caregiver ratio. Since your husband is gone a significant portion of the time, that makes it 1:18.

        Sigh. I wish you and your kiddos well.

      • Amanda – I too have questions:

        A) How do you transport your whole family in your 15 passenger van? 18 kids + 2 parents = 20 people.

        B) what happens if you have to run an errand while your hubby is at work? 15 person van isn’t big enough for 19 people (you + 18 kids).

  14. Thank you very much for taking the time to explain how your family works. We appreciate your comments.

  15. We never put more people in our van than fit. That is why we have drive two vehicles. Our son that is almost 17 1/2 has a permit and will have a license soon that would allow him to drive our minivan, but for now we have each parent drive a vehicle. He has had his permit for quite some time, but just hasn’t felt any need to hurry towards getting his license. He is only a Junior this year (held back prior to starting kindergarten and before he came to us), so there is no big rush to push him behind the wheel alone as college is over a year away.

    I do not expect that all of my children with Down Syndrome will live independently. All of my children adopted from Bulgaria were not adopted from the same facility. Only Keith came from the very bad place. He actually does not have the issues that Katie or Carrington have had. (Believe me that we expected them and I just wonder if an angel literally stood by his bed in that isolation room bc of how miraculously well he is doing!) He has been out of that place for exactly 3 months today. He is already sitting up, crawling, pulling to a stand, initiating play with toys, and can take steps while I hold his hands. I have no idea what our little miracle may achieve! Aleshia and Nicholas are much more likely to be with us forever. Ahnja is extrememly bright and was living in a group home there and attending a boarding school. Anita is also very high functioning already.

    I honestly don’t worry much about who will or won’t live indepently. If I gave birth to a child with special needs, then I would love them and take care of them in whatever capacity that they needed and the ones I adopt are no different. We are not older parents (I’m 32 and my husband is 40), so the likelihood of both of us passing early on is low. We have guardianship plans in place in case of some horrible accident, but as long as we are alive all of our children will have us to count on however they need us. My husband works as a manager at a facility where adults with special needs live and go to a workshop experience every day. I know all the options and my plan is to keep my children out of that option if at all possible.

    We do not meet the ‘daycare’ requirements, because we are not a daycare. Many families who have biological children don’t meet those requirements and have several children under age 5. None of my children are currently under age 5. We don’t meet group home requirements for adult to child ratio, because we aren’t a group home. We don’t have rotating caregivers going in and out. Ahnja’s first English phrase was “I love you” because that is the difference in a group home and a family. The love. I understand that it may be hard for you to comprehend that the love is the same in a large family. I don’t understand small families. lol My kids complain if there aren’t at least 5 or 6 people outside to play with (I had some with a cold and they didn’t get to go out a couple weeks ago and you’d have thought I had committed a crime they were so “bored” without enough kids for baseball teams!). I think we have more love because there are so many people here who love each other. They have a different view of other people and learn to care for those with differences, bc no two people here are the same. They learn to cheer and include someone who may not be able to run the bases as fast.

    I can understand your views. I can look through your stories and see families that have made me do a hand to face. Its honestly why I’ve never even felt bad when you talk about us. Everyone has a right to their opinions and I can see why a family with 18 kids who is going back for 3 more would make people question. I get the “how” and the “why” all the time. Then they meet our kids or come visit our family and those questions leave. They see how the children interact with us and with each other. You don’t have the privelege of seeing that and I can totally understand your questions. We aren’t the average family. You won’t likely meet a family like us at the store tomorrow . We’re still a family. No one gets left behind, forgotten, or moved bc they have an issue. No one goes to bed wondering if they will live here still tomorrow. No one here goes without a new pair of shoes (one of my kids adopted from foster care didn’t think they had his size in shoes except at Goodwill! when he came at age 7!) or lives in raggedy hand me downs. No one feels alone or unloved. No one has to worry about making a mistake and having to move. No one goes without an “I love you” either!

    I think I hit about all of the questions. I’ll try to read back over it after the kids are in bed to be sure.

    I do wonder if you feel that the Duggars and Bates are really just a group home too though? The Duggars do have a “buddy system” where older take care of younger, which I do NOT do. They have a large family and many younger than mine. I would think their kids feel it is a “family” as do mine though. ( I realize mine came via adoption and their via birth, but the numbers are quite a lot alike. I realize mine have diagnoses, but they function well in a family and social settings overall. I honestly always wanted to give birth but adopt most of my children and always dreamed of a large family. I just never saw the need to keep giving birth when there are so many children without homes. I have done both and can honestly say that I love the children who came via adoption JUST AS MUCH as I do the one I who came via birth. I am aware there are a lot of differences otherwise such as we don’t do the long dresses or scuba looking suits for swim suits, etc.) Just wondering if your view of all large families is the same or just bc of the route mine came? Here our view is that birth and adoption are like UPS and FEDEX, same gift just different routes.

    I really will come back tonight and see if I missed any questions. 🙂

  16. Dear Amanda,
    Thank you for taking the time to share in this forum your amazing experience. There is certainly a lot of love in your words and even if I don’t know you I have no reasons to doubt of your care for your family. I think the purpose of the discussion in this forum is to identify situations that in most cases (of course there may be some exceptions) end up creating an overcrowded and overstressed environment in which there is an increased risk for child abuse, parents burn out and family financial distress. Proper standardization of the AP screening and of the adoption process could decrease the chances of a child placement in a risky and dangerous environment.

  17. Amanda – thank you for being willing to answer the questions and for keeping the conversation civil. That’s no small feat considering the volatile nature of the topic at hand.

    To answer your questions now: yes, I do think of the Duggar home as a group home – I do not privilege their arrangement just because they are all biologically related. The Duggars have gotten in hot water for some of the same reasons as those raised in relation to large families discussed here: how do you find the time? The Duggars have gone to great lengths to explain to the public how it works. Nevertheless, a good portion of the public remains skeptical.

    As a mother, I am skeptical of the unequivocally positive spin I hear about how everybody just gets along in a large family. I know for a fact that human nature is more complicated than that. You say your kids never fight because they can always pick someone else to play with. Really? When I see large groups of kids at daycares, preschools and schools, the situation is never THAT simple. There are grievances. There are vendettas. There are power plays. There is vindictiveness. There is possessiveness. There is acting out. Sure, the kids can go play with someone else, but first they need to settle a score! And I am describing common little people interaction, nothing pathological. Just human nature. And that’s the point at which parents and teachers step in to regulate things a bit.

    So you can see why I remain skeptical.

    I am also struck by how very precarious your arrangement is. If anything at all were to happen to either you or your husband, leaving just one of you in charge of the whole operation, where would the household be? When I was a new mother, I had a serious problem (or so I felt) on my hands when I had a bad case of food poisoning. I was laid up in bed for 24 hours unable to attend to the simplest household tasks. It still remains a mystery to me how you envision managing the household if your husband is away and you have a case of food poisoning. Or worse, God forbid. What if grandma can’t be counted on,as will inevitably happen?

    Finally, I think what’s most troubling to me about mass adoption from abroad is the underlying but unspoken politics of economic disparity that takes place between countries that “have it” (wealth) and countries that don’t. I do not doubt for a minute that your motives are noble. The international adoption machine, however, is a ruthless economic taskmaster, of which you are a cog. The taskmaster’s goal is, of course, a large influx of the American dollar into the country with a lesser economy. Every time a PAP submits papers and travels turns the wheels of the machine. Why do you think two or three trips are suddenly the norm? Is the Russian adoption process, for example, really streamlined and optimized to best serve the needs of the children? Please.

    I know you will object and say it’s all for the good and saving of the children, but your desire actually feeds and increases the supply, as forces on the other side strain to keep the “customers” coming, so to speak. Having traveled to Bulgaria, I am sure you know how anything American is worshipped – most of all American cash.

    You come to Bulgaria as the “endowed,” rich American, and you make its citizens feel small. They can’t take care of their SN and impoverished children, and you get to rub it in, even if this is the furthest from your intent. They don’t have the wealth and the infrastructure capable of supporting the segment of the population unable to take care of itself. The United States can because it is the wealthiest economy in the world.

    But imagine if the tables turned. What if the U.S. lost its economic edge, and we were suddenly in the position of the Bulgarians, or the Russians? What if all the disability checks for all your children stopped cold? What if you realized you quite literally would not have enough money to feed and clothe everyone in the house, even if you went to work outside the home?

    There are political forces right here in the U.S. which aim to do away with all such “entitlement” programs as supportive income and services that AP’s use for their adoptees. Although an abrupt cessation of such services is probably unlikely in the immediate future, in the long run, I would say you are putting yourself and your children at tremendous risk.

    • I think at this point, it has to be about the children and not adult’s “feelings”. I can’t stand back and watch children die, simply because I don’t want to embarrass a culture. The fact is, even in the poorest countries, they are capable of taking care of their own. But in the countries we are talking about, they don’t take care of them. They allow them to starve and waste away, to die. And for what? I have adopted from several EE countries. Before we began adopting, I spent years with a church organization that carried medical supplies and medical care to EE countries. We went in and out of these orphanages on a regular basis and saw the bowls of the facilities because as far as they were concerned, we didn’t count except to meet their needs.
      I saw children dying. I saw them caged, tied to beds, covered in rat feces and their own urine. Covered in rat bites, blisters… it goes on and on! I still have nightmares about our trips over. And these were in places that were wealthier. It all came down to the simple fact that these cultures do not see these children as viable human beings. They see them as a disgrace and something that needs to be kept hidden until they die.
      Yes, there are good orphanages. But these are far and few between. The norm is much darker.

      • Do you realize that your second sentence elevates yourself to Savior level?Who ever has talked about embarrassing a “culture”?You have pretty much just insulted all EE cultures by your statements. You have insulted me, you self-righteous twit.Why do you have no hope that facilities can change and deinstitutionalization can occur?

  18. First of all, our family has never received WIC (not even for the children we fostered years ago) or Social Security. I stated that the medical cards help considerably with the children we have adopted from foster care and they do. We do not just stick out our hands and take every available assistance though. We live with very little debt and I cook most of our food from scratch (started that because my African American kids had high blood pressure at young ages) and we watch our finances. We don’t live beyond our means. While we are careful, we don’t dwell on the what ifs to the point of living in fear. We balance our household with children of varying need levels. (Believe me, there are other children at that place that would have had much greater needs than two of the ones we are adopting next and others that had greater needs than those we brought home last. We have to carefully pray and choose who we are to adopt with a logical mind that doesn’t take on 3 severely medically challenged/full care kids all at once.) We think about long term and plan for situations that could arise to the best of our ability.

    Next, I have been “sick”. I got sick with a stomach virus about a year ago that meant every time I raised my head I vomitted. My husband was on standby to come home at a moments notice. He didn’t need to though. Just like any other family would do, everyone stepped up and pitched in. My 17 year old son and my two 10 year old sons especially just jumped in. Before I knew it they had lunch on the table and everyone sitting down. It wasn’t a “hot” meal, but they had plans to do that for dinner until they realized their Dad was bringing home pizza. My husband kept calling to check and only works 15 minutes away, but every time he called wanting to know if he was needed yet he learned that they had it under control. My kids don’t watch much tv, so a movie in had the little ones happy in minutes!

    I know some of you read my blog (even if it is for chances to flog lol) and my husband was away for a month because of our kids being in different places in Bulgaria. We didn’t have any problems. Yes, it was a little harder with just me here, but we did it. Everyone just pitched in a little more without even being asked! They knew why he was gone and they were excited.

    So when I say that we’d manage we would. People kept calling to ask if we needed help, but we just didn’t. I wouldn’t WANT to do it without my husband, but prayerfully he won’t die! I just won’t sit around and worry about it. Yes, I believe God will take care of me, but I also have plans and thought out processes. My mother helps out occassionally with an appointment or something, but we don’t count on her all the time. My brother and especialy my sister (3 kids each) both count on her weekly or several times a week for things and we only accept help on occassion.

    I do agree that there needs to be more screenings and things should be more uniform for adoptions. I don’t think a certain # of kids is really the problem. I think parents going into it with an idea that just loving the child will make everything better, parents who have such strong ideas about every aspect of their adoptive child and have a role of somehow fulfilling themselves through the child, and parents with unrealistic ideas or not enough training are big issues. I hate nothing more than to see that a child was told they have a family that “loves” them, only to have that family bail when they realize that they have some special need that they weren’t expecting. I saw today where a very young girl was adopted from Asia and they were “rehoming” (I hate that word and it sounds like it should be for a puppy!) her because they found out she has Dwarfism that was undiagnosed. Uggghhh!! That is one of the things that kills me!

    I will say that the money made through adoptions is something I have pondered. I have also pondered its impact. Right now files are being sent back on kids from where my Keith came from and where the three who have stolen my heart still live. I feel like those files going back says that Christians in America don’t want “those” kids either. That hurts me more than someone getting money from my adoption. I believe each of those children deserves a family and is in desperate need of one. I can’t “save them all” and I can honestly say that none of those children are meant to be mine. I just wish that others would step up, see their value, and realize that one is meant to be theirs. I don’t think adoptions in Bulgaria discourages Bulgarians from raising their children. I even had a newspaper reporter meet me at the institution because no one had ever adopted from that one before. She wanted to know “why” we wanted a child like our little girl. I was able to share with her and whoever read that story that Down Syndrome isn’t some scary thing, but a blessing and that the beautiful little girl in my arms was one we had prayed for and felt blessed to be able to add to our family.

    The problem in Bulgaria isn’t that there isn’t the money to care for the children. The government is doing their best to remedy that and to eventually shutdown the places that hide them away. It is a slow process though. The problem is that their society sees no value, worth, or joy in the children with special needs. One of my children had a birth parent who was a DOCTOR and a mother who was a stay at home mother. Another was taken home by the birthparents and lived with them for months before they realized the child had Down Syndrome. It is the special need that is undesired, not the lack of money. It will get better. They are working on it. I think us going into places that have never seen a child come out is a thing that encourages them to see that others DO want that child and other children like them.

    There are a lot of areas that reform is needed. The process, the expense, and the checks that should be in place to protect children are not readily there. There are not uniform requirements. We’ve always had to have the beds already in place before the homestudy, but some have people jumping in to do it while they are away. I’ve seen people put new older children in with young children with no regard to what could happen. LOTS of things need reformed. That is why I said that there are lots of things that you’ve written that I can agree with! It just isn’t a # problem though. I see a lot of problems with first time adopters. What could have been done to better prepare them? Was their lack of experience taken into account with who they were approved for? Were they THOROUGHLY trained on what to expect, how to help the child attach, how to prepare their bio children, how to accept a child the way they come and allow them to be who they are, etc???

    I will also say that if we want to “reform” something, then we could start with US foster care. The “system” did as much or more damage to my children than their birth families did. Foster parents who do it for the money, a system that rewards those foster parents for poor parenting as well as overdiagnosing and overmediccating children by raising their “per diem”, passing them from home to home, judges and social workers who take them from their birth families but then let them dangle in a broken system for years, and a whole laundry list of other things are at the top of the list of things that need ‘reformed’.

    So while we may not agree on everything, there is some common ground. 🙂

    • Amanda – well, you clearly do make it work for your family, and I extend my best to you. I *still* don’t get how you feed a family of 20 and not break the bank each month, but perhaps you are a cook magician. I know I spend about $500-600 a month for a family of four. I could see spending $400 if I cut some higher-end items. I, too, cook mostly at home. If I multiplied that times five (to feed twenty people), you see how $2000 a month can break any modest family budget. I am not bringing this up to pick on you, but to say how some of us find it hard to wrap our heads around how you manage it.

      In the part of the country where I live, with a pretty big cost-of-living tag, parents routinely worry how they will afford to send their kids to college. On an online parent community which I belong to, just this week a parent was asking other parents what a reasonable college-expense investment is. This parent posted that she has saved about $82K for each of her two children, now 8 and 10. She wrote in for advice whether this is *on track* for the college timeline, since she will need about 250K (yep, you read that right) to fund one child’s four-year -public, mind you – education at the state college. This mother is not paranoid. Economists say that given today’s inflation and tuition increase trends, this is going to be the cost for a four-year degree ten years down the road, at least in this neck of the woods.

      So you can see what a contrast your story makes to this other *reality* that many of us live.

      I will second Concerned’s comments that most European countries are not equipped to integrate special populations, such as the developmentally or physically disabled. I was born and spent my childhood in Eastern Europe, and I can attest that this problem is stuck in a vicious circle. Parents who do choose to keep their disabled children can often consign themselves to social isolation because they can’t easily take their children out in the world. The stigma then tends to reinforce itself. Socially, there simply isn’t enough of a public will to change sidewalk on-ramps, for example.

      But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Europe went through two utterly devastating world wars in the last century, during which the infrastructure and population were utterly decimated in some cases. I am not sure Europe ever recovered from that. Eastern Europe in particular recovered much more slowly and poorly, and alcoholism took a terrible toll on social well-being. Issues such as wheelchair ramps would have been seen as utterly small in the larger scheme of problems.

  19. I lived for several years in Europe and in US; it’s true that in some European countries there is still stigma associated with disability. I also think that part of the problem is that there aren’t in place the proper resources to help each person reach the full potential. For example the European Union requires public places to be accessible to wheelchair users but as a matter of fact many streets, store, public transportation are not accessible. Add to this that in Europe the economy is not doing well and many family are struggling to meet the end of the month so potential caregivers may feel that the only option is to put their children in government institutions in which (at least in theory) their basic needs are met. In the case of Bulgaria or Romania there is also a large minority of Roma people that historically have always been discriminated and deprived of their basics rights so is not uncommon to find many special needs children of this specific ethnicity left in institutions and badly bullied by the staff.

    • Concerned, Your comments resonate with truth but why even put it here? Haven’t you read? Biological parents in foreign lands with special needs or ethnic minorities are just panting for money and resources to rain down from their country of origin or the rest of the free world so they can confidently and boldly parent these children. Didn’t you know that? Doesn’t everyone know that? Doesn’t everyone believe that adoptive parents are not needed if only these funds and resources will come? Why would any parent of a minority child willingly leave them in an institution? Surely that would never happen if more money would just show up. If all of the money spent on international adoption was spent to help these families, I know they would be pioneers!!

      Yeah. Or not. The reality is much different than what is presented here. For some children in some countries, the stigma of disability overrides any parent’s desire to help. These parents may love these children, but they have no true desire to parent them, preferring instead to “entrust” them into care of the state and forget they were ever cursed in the way they were.

      You’ll never hear that here though. It’s all fancy flowers and roses and money falls from trees and adoption is bad – because SOME adoption is bad.

      • Name, go take your meds. Child collecting is a serious issue. Individually assessing children for their best placement is what we advocate here while simultaneously advocating for disability rights and improved care for children. Yes, we can do all of those!It is not an either/or thing. You may think that you can defend placing a special needs child with another 18 as long as it is in a Christian US home and that love will get them through, but disabled children that have lived in orphanages *deserve* to have specialized care and adoptive parents should be therapeutically trained. We are adoptive parents so we don’t think adoption is bad, just that is it one of several options that should not be taken lightly.Placing multiple special needs children at once should never be done and this issue should not be taken lightly. This particular organization encourages it and that is just wrong. Go ahead and continue to argue that international adoptive parents should continue to receive less (actually no)training than US foster parents who have disabled kids and that children don’t deserve time to transition into their new home as the only new kid or before others are added and continue to curse all foreign people as evil people who hate their kids.

      • Concerned – A special needs child with 17-20 SN siblings could be expected to receive adequate attention/nurturing but a SN kid in a groupa of, say, 12 in an orphanage won’t? I. Don’t. Think. So.

        I can’t get over how dismissive you’re being to foreign parents who love their kids and are availing themselves of the only assistance available for their kid – an orphanage (which is used as a sort of boarding school for pook kids in many parts of the world). What about American parents who (heartwrenchingly) surrender their much-loved kiddos to state guardianship or foster care so that the kid can get desperately needed treatment that insurance won’t cover? Should THOSE parents have their kids taken from them against their will??

      • Name, you think your sarcasm is clever, but it only betrays your appalling superiority complex as an American feeling self-righteous about all those people “over there” who are clearly morally inferior. Yuck.

        The issues are so much more complex than your glib snarkiness would suggest, but frankly, it is obvious you are not interested in a thoughtful exchange, so I will leave it at that. As someone from Eastern Europe, I just find your statements deeply offensive.

  20. Name, I’m not sure what you are trying to say with your last post. I was just trying to explain to readers of this forum that the situation in Europe is complex and people should understand the context before expressing a judgement. There are a lot of cultural,economic and historical realities that can at least partially explain why there are so many special needs children in institutions in Eastern Europe.

    • Concerned, thank you for your balanced view and thank you for acknowledging the complexity of the historical, economic and political realities.

      To Name 10:46 am, I think your comments apply to Name 8:40 am, who IS dismissive of the context and complexities involved and implies that Eastern European parents of SN kids don’t want to parent them. I’m still fighting my gag reflex.

  21. The situation in Eastern Europe for children with special needs and those of minority heritage is definitely not ideal. I just don’t think we can “judge” too much (unless there is malicious and intentional harm such as in one of the orphanages that did come out). Parents in the US were sending children to “institutions” in the not too distant past. 🙁 We have also had our share of racial issues in the US. Currently children with Down Syndrome have a VERY high abortion rate, which proves that people with special needs are still not valued HERE the same as the “typical” (what the crap is typical anyway??) population.

    Bulg*ar*a is making huge strides. They have huge hurdles to overcome. They had the wars that destroyed so much and worst than that were driven by communism for a very long time. When we were there it was a job to push the strollers down the sidewalks, so I can’t imagine being a person in a wheelchair there. They will get there and I believe they are trying. I pray that some of the people who saw (though some stared majorly at the children, but were pleasant with us) my children out and about in the city realized that they didn’t belong behind the doors of those institutions. I know that several were touched by the sight of a 5 year old child who weighed less than 12 lbs. They had trouble believing it and expressed that children with special needs don’t deserve that. Judgement of those who just don’t know, but did nothing malicious won’t help. I doubt that the parents in the US years ago left their children bc of lack of love. It is lack of knowledge and having never seen what a child with special needs can accomplish. It is the lack of feeling that they can live a normal life with their child in their home. Even the simple knowledge that they won’t ‘catch’ Down Syndrome is missing.

    Oh and as far as grocery and cost of living issues, I live in an area that the cost of living is not high at all in comparison to other areas. I am very thankful for that, but realize that the cost of living is constantly going up everywhere. We adopted a sib group of 3 from LA County, CA back in 2007 and the cost of living there was shocking!

    I’m confused by part of the conversation, so forgive me if I’m missing something. I think there are maybe multiple people using “Name”. lol I guess I’ve had so many homestudies done and so many social workers over the last 12 years that I don’t hide anything any more, so I just stick my real “name” on here. lol