No ice-bucket needed to make my blood run cold

ALS is a terrifying disease, no doubt about it. And there’s equally no doubt that the current viral #icebucketchallenge has caught public attention and is bringing in TONNES of much-needed money, and a lot of opportunity for education about the disease and its impact.

But I’m not going to do it, and here’s why – it’s not part of my heart.

Call me selfish if you want, or a killjoy if you prefer. I was tagged thrice, and I donated, but it’s already distinctly autumnal here in the UK, and there is absolutely no way, not even for this charity, that I would submit to having someone pour a bucket of ice-water over me. I *hate* the cold and am far, far too chicken for ice-water. That’s not the only reason, though.

I’m a firm believer in charity, and whilst my bank statement probably reflects my selfishness far more than my giving, it *is* there. And as our bank statements often reveal where our heart lies, let me tell you where mine is.

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you might have caught my post ‘On Isolation and Infertility‘. You don’t have to read it to figure out that I’m not going to be a parent any time soon. Or perhaps ever. That hurts, because Husby and I are both very family-oriented people, and had names for our four children picked out almost before we were married. We also planned to adopt. Best-laid plans, huh?

NoBabies

Back when we still thought all things were possible, I stumbled across a documentary on Youtube, entitled Bulgaria’s Abandoned Children. It. Is. Harrowing. I don’t cry often at videos, but this turned my blood to ice, and flooded my cheeks with scalding tears. There are scenes there I can never un-see:

Rooms full of children rocking and rocking, in crazy, disjointed harmony, desperately trying to self-soothe.

Cold, peeling corridors with kids shuddering from cold, incarcerated by winter and their fate.

A disabled, non-verbal girl contorted in pain and trying to scream as untrained (desperately over-stretched) staff manipulated her (obviously) broken leg and wondered in the subtitles why she was fussing.

Teenagers the size of toddlers, stunted and twisted in cots they will never rise from.

Hands reached out through bars to the programme’s presenter, desperate for contact, their trusting eyes turned towards her.

A child tied down as his tonsils were forcibly removed without anaesthetic, and the nurse crying afterwards because she knew it was torturous but necessary, and they hadn’t the funds for medicines.

The blank, hollow stares of children – so many children – who know that there is no longer hope.

Rows of wooden crosses in the woods behind the institutions.

It broke me, and with each new scene the devastation which can be wreaked by ignorance and neglect turned to a small, steely place in my heart – determined to MAKE A DIFFERENCE (oh please, please, let me make a difference…)

I spent the longest time looking into international adoption, particularly considering the possibility of a child with special needs – imagining that I might be able to rescue a child from a fate similar to the ones I had seen. I have a background in working with children, and amongst them, some with special needs. It would be an exacting task to parent such a child, perhaps, but wonderful. And, because in other parts of the world, even quite close to the prosperous West, children with special needs are often abandoned by their families; orphaned through no fault of their own, due to the social stigma which is attached to their disabilities, I particularly wanted to provide a home and acceptance to one of these. Having discussed my desire for this with Husby, he agreed.

I stumbled across a wonderful organisation in the US called Reece’s Rainbow, which locates children in various orphanages across the world, and creates profiles where money can be raised to go towards the (large) cost of their adoption. It primarily supports the adoption of children with Down Syndrome, though many of the children have other disabilities – some no worse than a squint – which has sealed their fate and left them without a family.

I trawled the site for weeks, back when I thought there might be a slim chance of adopting via the organisation. I found a girl, Violetta, and fell utterly in love with her adorable smile. I began to imagine the wonder of our lives if she were in it. Then another – Gretchen – whose sad face and giant blue eyes twisted my heart and made me long to bring her home.

Unfortunately my research came to naught, because UK law prevents us from adopting internationally, and *particularly* an international child with special needs. God forbid that the NHS should be used for a foreign kid who needs medical help! I’m still (so, so) heartbroken and angry about that.

Since the time I was researching, things have changed and Violetta’s country will no longer allow her to be adopted. She has grown older, and the chances are that she will have been transferred from the infants’ orphanage (the small window of time in which these children can be rescued) to another institution, which will be her life sentence.

Gretchen is still available for adoption.

My heart still aches for the plight of these children, and the edges of my soul are burned by the way we humans treat one another, and allow others to be treated through our complacency and ignorance. A black mist rises behind my eyes when I think how fortunate I am, and really, how little I do to help others.

I am a selfish, self-involved, zebra-headed, living-in-the-midst-of-my-first-world-problems two-toned paramecium-brain.

And I will try to do better – I can’t make a difference to them all, but perhaps to this one…

For sweet Violetta, who I have loved so much without her ever knowing, and for Gretchen, for whom there is still hope.

Violetta and Gretchen

That said, if what you *really* want is a sexy, wet-shirt, ice-bucket video (and a tonne of information about ALS which you might not have known), head over to my darling friend Hastywords’ blog right now, and see her take the challenge…

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89 thoughts on “No ice-bucket needed to make my blood run cold

  1. I can’t even bring myself to watch that video…. your poignant words describe the atrocities quite brutally well. I am sick about this… Sick. Perhaps not the best post to read on my birthday- but who the hell am I to even say THAT? Poor little me? Pff.

    This hurts BIG. Why oh why can’t we save them? Every last one of them…

    Hopeless. Helpless.

    I just want God to come finish off His Plan now- so these COUNTLESS children can finally be free of suffering and dance in heaven’s light.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know 😦 And you definitely *definitely* should not EVER watch that video, my lovely – it will do you in. Just don’t do it.

      And I know…it’s so easy to get caught in our own (nonetheless real) miseries and forget the plight of others for a while. And yet we also cannot bear it all the time, because no-one could…

      ACK!

      Like

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  3. TO. THE. CORE! You are amazing and should be granted that child or any for that matter. I knew your pain at one point. Years of fertility; years. A vicious miscarriage. Attempts at adoption but that was more expensive than continuing fertility treatments and well…now you know how it ends. I’m sorry for ALL your pain. Every wonderful woman that wants to be a mother should be one. I know one day you will. Sending lots of love AND GLITTER to your beautiful spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is the thing though, isn’t it – fertility (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with worth or deserving. A fertile woman and a fertile man can *choose* to become parents. But they don’t ‘deserve’ it. Look at some of the absolute hellions who breed…

      Likewise infertility and motherhood is not a guarantee just because someone wants it desperately or would be a good parent. I know you know this.

      But I’m really, really glad that your story ended so incredibly double-double beautifully. And I have ‘my’ kids around me, all over the place. And they help πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the love and glitter. Sending it back in truckloads πŸ™‚

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      • Your words are true. I still get angry at the site and thoughts of mistreatment. I know many of us who would swallow up a little one in need. I’m glad I know you Lizzi. You are a brilliant woman and I learn from you often.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Me too, but the mistreatment of children is something which should *always* affect us, *every time*. It makes us human and it’s intentional that we feel so very deeply in order to protect those tiny people who cannot protect themselves.

          I wish the laws were different. I wish I could change them. But I CAN make a difference this way – by giving.

          I don’t feel brilliant, but I’m glad you learn from me, and it’s nice that you think so. Thank you πŸ™‚

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  4. I don’t even know where to begin. This is painful. Infuriating. It’s a sad day when a government will prohibit much needed adoption from foreign countries no doubt for financial reasons. My heart hurts for these poor children. This should never, ever be.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There are so many children in the world that need loving parents like yourself and it seems utterly absurd to me that the UK prevents this from happening. A child is a child and if someone like you, in another part of the world can provide this child with a home, love and warmth then why not? Lizzi, you are remarkably strong and from what I know from reading your blog, you have enough love to circle the world many times. Violetta and Gretchen are beautiful and somehow I believe they feel the love and strength you have put out into the universe xo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wish I believed that kind of thing – my mind is too pragmatic and makes me think that good thoughts and warm fuzzies put ‘out there’ without any action to back them up, just won’t have an effect. But the money I give and the awareness I raise *just* might have a bit of an impact – either for those girls or some other kids somewhere.

      Laws suck. Truly. They seem designed to obfuscate and create problems where none need to be.

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  7. I didn’t know we were not able to adopt internationally in the UK. Why ever not? Unfortunately there is now way we could possibly save all the children in the world that need saving, and the cats, the dogs, the horses, the tigers, the trees and – every cause that hurts my heart. I so wish we could do something that made a real difference, but every little drop in the bucket we do seems too small. It is this that makes me atheist more than anything, which is completely the opposite stance to you I know. Sometimes I struggle to see the goodness in humanity – individuals maybe, but as a group we are more of a clot than a pride.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Being human is enough to raise the head of the humblest beggar and bow the head of the proudest king.

      As a group we’re dunderheads, yet when we work together for a common good, great things can be achieved. I’m just grateful my faith doesn’t rest on the ability of the human race to do good. It would be gone LONG ago if that were the case.

      And as with the story of the starfish stranded on the beach – we can’t save them all, but we can make a difference to this one. And this one. And this one. And this one. And if everyone does that – if everyone stops being overwhelmed and just does what they CAN – things will change.

      I don’t care much for cats and dogs and tigers as long as there are children out there who need help. I’m not wired for animals, though their plight is often sucky.

      And we CAN adopt internationally, as long as the child is healthy and we have a qualifying connection to their country of origin.

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  8. I took the ice bucket challenge because my family was deeply affected by ALS, but your post and the plight of these children tears at my heart, too. Thank you for this. It was so eloquently written and I truly do understand your pain, although my wait for a child was only about 3 years, and I know that others have waited much longer and some aren’t sure, as you stated here, that they’ll ever be parents. And there are so many children who NEED parents so it all seems like such a waste when we KNOW that we–the parents and the kids–would LOVE to be there for each other. And yet children still sit in overcrowded facilities. It’s frustrating. Thanks for this post. It successfully and heart-wrenchingly sheds light on a completely worthwhile cause while being respectful of the ALS challenge, too. You’re the bomb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very sweet, Shay, and thank you – I did try to be respectful of the ALS challenge. I’m glad that came across. I wasn’t trying to trash it or undermine it – I genuinely think it’s a good cause, and that they hit on a brilliant strategy to raise awareness and funds. It’s simply not where my heart’s at. I’m sorry your family has been so deeply affected by ALS though. That sucks 😦

      It baffles me, too – it seems so obvious that if two people want to give a child a home, and there are children who need homes…you make that happen. Or at least provide pathways so the two people can make that happen.

      I am clearly too naive and simplistic to ever make it in politics. I don’t have nearly enough self-interest πŸ˜‰

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      • My thoughts exactly. We are ready, willing and capable of bringing a child into our home to love and protect but yet so many political things prevent it. THEY are in more ways than not responsible for SO many forgotten children.

        Makes me sick.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Me too. Politics seems to have become less about saving the world and making the country better than a lucrative career where you line your pockets at the expense of the general populace.

          I hate that so many children are victims of the system when there are perfectly good families out there just WISHING they could help.

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  9. Heartbreaking. With a loving family many children adopted from Eastern European countries thrive here in the West. I wish those Eastern countries would make it easier for Westerners to provide help to those children. ❀ to your Violetta and Gretchen.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We all have causes that are closer to our heart than others. It must be so frustrating to have your heart stopped by annoying adoption laws. We have thought about adopting too, but it seems so impossible to actually do it.

    I haven’t seen too much about the ice bucket challenge. Mostly I just see people talking about whether it is good or bad. I think anything that helps a cause has to have some merit. I need to go find out more about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Click Hasty’s link there – she gives a LOAD of information about it. That’s part of why I linked her – she’s educating, not just going along with it.

      And yeah – I’d still love to, if only…if only! It’s incredibly frustrating and almost designed to obfuscate and put barriers in people’s way. But people do it. It CAN be done. Thank goodness!

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  11. I read this last night, and I couldn’t even comment. I still can’t. I just wanted to let you know that I read this and that it was so well written and so…moving? I don’t know. I have a special place in my heart for children and for people who help children. I’m sorry, Lizzi.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did you? Where were you? I didn’t see you online.

      I hated writing this. It broke me to smithereens at 3am. And again this morning when I started replying to comments.

      Thanks though, just for letting me know you were here πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was about midnight my time. Those faces. They nearly did me in. My stomach lurched at your descriptions. This is exactly why I don’t click on the stories that I know are like this. I can’t. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

            • Me too. Maybe I should save up for an island with no sucky laws and build an orphanage, but a great one, where I just keep the kids.

              Actually no, I want our SW commune there. AND the kids.

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              • You need to call my dad. He has wanted to build an orphanage for as long as I can remember. He’s been close several times. He’s currently working with adoptions to provide houses for people who adopt siblings. He feels that too many sibling groups get split up when families just want to adopt one child or when they just want a young child and not his/her teenage sibling.

                Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, those pictures of the little ones just speak to me too. They would have been lucky to have you as their momma. No person could love them more. I don’t know how you watched that video, I wouldn’t have been able to. Hugs lady…and I passed the bucket thing off to my kid so don’t feel bad. I’m not dumping ice cold water on my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t feel bad…I feel warm and dry and heartachey *sigh*

      Thanks for sharing this. And yes, I would have loved so much to have had the opportunity to take them out of those institutions.

      Like

  13. Lizzi. I am so so sad, and so upset and you are not selfish by the way. We’ve spoken of it before, I know, and the fact remains that the law is selfish and stupid and the entire planet should realize that we are all in this human thing together and allow these amazing children a chance at love and family. No political agenda should ever exist that prevents anybody from love and nurture. Sigh. I’m glad you’re revisiting this, and, if you decide on a way to help these kids – other than prayer and donations – please let me know. I’m in. xxoo and huge hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the only way is to share about the organisation and donate to enable other people to adopt them more easily. But thank you SO much for your support πŸ™‚

      I’m glad I revisited it too, but not when I was crying floods at 3am because of finding out there’s no hope left for Violetta.

      Like

      • Never ever give up hope entirely. After all, if we could truly affect change, and make it possible for all of these kids to find forever homes, you’d still take her, right? Surely there’s hope? 😦 😦 SAD

        Liked by 1 person

        • I would if I thought we could provide a suitable home. At the moment,with all the illness and depression we’re dealing with, I doubt we could support her properly. But yes. I would. In a second, otherwise.

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  14. My best friend and my daughter went through this very same thing. My best friend tried to adopt a special needs child from the Ukraine and it was a go right up until they changed the law that changed everything. It broke my best friends heart, she has been trying to get pregnant for about 12 years now, is a nurse, happily married and it sucks so bad! This world is so screwed up, children needing homes in the worst way can’t get them due to stupid politics…sorry this gets me riled up everytime. They spent a fortune went to visit twice and then this happened it is so sad. My daughter has been luckier, she was able to try infertility medicine and ended up getting pregnant herself. She is now due to have twins at Christmas. We are super excited but my heart still breaks for people like you and my Steph who would be great moms but aren’t allowed to because of bullshit reasons!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. You are not in the least bit selfish. You are a giving person with a heart that keeps going. No one can contribute to every cause that comes along. You have important causes in your life and things you are willing to fight for. It is your right to give in ways that are closest to your heart. And if anyone has a problem with that, they are the ones who need to adjust their attitudes–not you. ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fortunately none of those people have rocked up here. Though I have been treated to terse comments before now for wanting to adopt internationally when there are British kids in need. But the system here still does better by them than the ones elsewhere sometimes…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Serins I have every confidence that you could be just as selfless. We all have it in us. You are faced with a particularly strong onslaught on your compassion every day. I am not. I should imagine that you need to be a little harder to survive your world – if you allowed yourself to feel this deeply about each child you see, you would just break into a million pieces and never get back together again. Different circumstances entirely, and totally explainable. If I were in your situation, I would need to toughen up.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. My heart . . . felt every word. I don’t really hug people often, I felt like hugging just now. The girls are beautiful and precious, it’s so easy to see why you fell in love. I’m not often one to find myself at a loss for words, but in this moment I am –

    Liked by 1 person

    • That means a lot to me, thank you.

      They are utterly adorable. To be fair, RR is PACKED with beautiful children, but those are the two who particularly spoke to my heart. I adore them from afar, and was *so* intensely upset (in the wee hours of this morning, having re-opened the box on all this) to discover that it’s all too late for Violetta now. Goodness, if you’d have been here offering a hug, I would have crumbled to nothing…

      I’ve been silent about these girls for a long time. Too long. Time to start talking again – to get over my own loss, and try to support Gretchen into finding her forever family.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Talking, writing, sharing their stories and the plight of all of those beautiful babies may just open the doors to the healing you need. It may open the doors of someone else’s heart as well.

        You have a precious heart my new friend . . .

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s really all I can do – hope that some compassionate soul happens to stumble across my blog, looking for a daughter, and finds her. That would be amazing. But if I can raise her profile, or that of the organisation, then GREAT. So much the better.

          And thanks. I don’t think I have a better heart than anyone else, really, but it tries… πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

    • My heart is leaden. Life is shockingly unfair, and I should try to remember these beautiful girls more when I start getting all antsy and down on my own circumstances (which are NOT that bad). *sigh*

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  18. I understand concentrating on what’s near and dear to you. There is a biblical saying that comes to mind in Hebrew the meaning of which is charity begins at home (or directly translated from Hebrew: the needy in your city come first). Infertility and adoption are understandably your city and your emotional landscape and it’s heartbreaking that U.K law doesn’t see it that way. And these photographs, this post, all of this went straight into my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes – that’s not all I contribute to, and other things are most definitely in my city – the actual one. Foodbanks and such. But this…yes…definitely part of my emotional landscape, and a very difficult part to return to.

      I can understand the reasons from the point of view of the law, I just think they’re sucky non-reasons based in selfishness and ignorance.

      Like

  19. British adoption laws suck. Think how many children would be adopted in England, children who desperately need a home, if they allowed international adoptions. So sad to think of those babies, and I wish there were a way around the law for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They suck BIGTIME. And I’m still so heartbroken (and teary-eye – blechhhh resurgence!) about it all. These kids *so* need loving families, and when I think of the empty homes here where there are people just ready and waiting to love them and keep them forever…all thwarted by profiteering and selfishness. I hate it. I really do 😦

      Like

  20. Wishing you the best Lizzi. It breaks my heart to hear about stories like this. And I see them right infront of me everyday over here. Only that they are in the streets. I cannot forget the last time I went to an institution. I cried for nights. With very little I can do, I just pray for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would struggle SO much if they were in the streets here – my house would be packed with them, I think. I’d probably be done by the authorities for breaching some anti-humanitarian rule.

      My only (meagre) comfort is that we’re *meant* to cry about these things, and pray and yearn for them to be better, because they DO matter, and it affirms that our compassion’s in good working order, if nothing else.

      I just wish they all had homes. I wish I could give them a home. Bloody laws.

      Like

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