Every night when I kiss Michael good night, I marvel at the fact that I was chosen to be his mother. To me, he is perfect and beautiful, and I could not ask for a better son.I am truly blessed to be his mama.
I prayed to find the right child, and God showed him to me.
To people in Kazakhstan, he is hopelessly crippled and will never be able to support himself. He was destined to live on welfare the rest of his life if he had stayed in that country, because of that culture. His missing hand condemned him. That's why the assistant director at the orphanage worked so hard to get him adopted. She saw past his missing hand and saw a very smart, good boy, who would do well in a family.
She knew that nobody in the northern Asian country of Kazakhstan would adopt a 9 year old who was missing a hand, particularly not a child who was clearly a mix of Kazakh and Russian.
The fact he is mixed race was the second thing that counted against him in that country. There are kids in the orphanage simply because they are not 100% Russian or 100% Kazakh. I sponsored a child through Antares Foundation who was only in the orphanage because her stepmother refused to raise a child who was mixed race, and made the father put her in the orphanage. There she stayed, until her ethnically Russian mother got out of prison and took her back.She was a beautiful child, and smart.
My son proves all the suspicions and prejudices to be WRONG. He makes good grades. He has dear friends. He loves to play tennis and plays on the school team. He also loves baseball, basketball, and swimming. His only limitations are the limits of his view about himself, and I am trying to help him have more confidence.
I have never seen someone meet my son and have a negative reaction. He has the most amazing spirit, and a calm and gentle kindness that shines through. What a blessing he is to not only our family, but to everyone around him.
I have had nearly all the mothers of Mike's friends tell me, at one time or another, that they never see Michael's limb difference. It's not something they thought about after the first few minutes of meeting him. It doesn't define him. It's not really a handicap, just a difference.
The difficult thing for most Americans to understand is that our view of handicaps or racial differences is not typical in the world.
I found a fascinating essay called Growing Up Asian With a Disability, by a young Asian woman, Grace Chao. She starts off saying:
"Disability is still a taboo topic within many parts of Asian cultures. People with disabilities are often seen as outcasts of society and worthless citizens. In many modern-day Asian countries, the disabled are still regarded as incapable of becoming educated, functioning members of society. Therefore, they are often forgotten and fall beneath the cracks. This old school of superstitious thought teaches that disability is some sort of punishment, and promotes the idea that being different is always a horrible thing."
What got me started thinking about this, you might ask?
My friend Cindy LaJoy posted the most amazing link last night, on Facebook. It illustrates so well what I am saying, but it also points out how a pastor in South Korea was able to address the problem of abandoned babies in his country.
I urge you to watch the trailer to the documentary about him, The Drop Box. The pastor in South Korea who made a box for mothers to "drop off" their handicapped babies. He created his own little orphanage, and he literally saved these babies' lives. It's one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. I have watched the trailer for the documentary now three times and cried every.single.time.
Please watch the trailer.