There is no denying the stress and challenges that often accompany living life with a disability or chronic illness. As a mom to a child with significant special needs, I am keenly aware of those daily challenges. With the support of family, however, many children born with special needs go on to live healthy, meaningful lives. But for children around the globe who live in orphanages and lack access to a family unit and good medical care, being born with special needs most often means a life-long sentence of institutionalization and neglect. My son was almost one such statistic.
In 2011, my family and I traveled to Hong Kong, China to adopt a four-year old child with autism and significant cognitive delay. After living in two different orphanages, international adoption was his last option before being sent to a mental institution to live out the remainder of his life.
UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 143 million orphaned children around the globe. There are no hard statistics on how many of those are special needs children. (more…)