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«Even clergymen do not adopt abandoned handicapped children»

February 11, 2011, 10:00 4257 Author: Natalia Smuglyuk, http://www.subbota.com.ua/, translated by Elena Guda www.deti.zp.ua Ladies in Zaporozhye often refuse to abort pregnancies with severe fetus pathologies and later they abandon their handicapped children in the maternity hospitals

No people in Zaporozhye have ever wanted to adopt a handicapped child.

Ladies in Zaporozhye often refuse to abort pregnancies with severe fetus pathologies and later they abandon their handicapped children at the maternity hospitals

Down’s syndrome, hydrocephalus or hydrocephaly, physical defects: these are the diagnoses that sound as sentences for future parents. What should mothers do in such situations? Should they give births to the children thus condemning their families to suffering? Or maybe they should have abortions and violate the corresponding table in the religious decalogue? The choice is always painful. The Ukrainian legislation, the Church and the conventional morality of the society confuse people rather than assist in determining their positions.

She took a look at her little son… and abandoned him at the maternity hospital

The recommendation to abort her pregnancy Svetlana, a graduate of Zaporozhye Engineering Academy, took as an offence. Her fetus was diagnosed as having Down’s syndrome.

— We wanted a child so much! What is bareness follows? What if the doctors are wrong? – Sveta was crying talking over the phone to me. I want the child!

After the delivery Sveta took a look through the window of the children’s intensive care ward at her small son having the Down’s syndrome, a heart defect and a lot of associated deviations and understood that she wouldn’t be able to cope with such a burden. Thousands of USD and years of terrible work would be needed for the child’s rehabilitation. So she left the infant in the maternity hospital.

In accordance with Zaporozhye obstetrician-gynecologists, 80% of the children born with different pathologies are eventually taken to the regional infant’s home “Sunshine”.

People in Zaporozhye do not adopt handicapped children

In the “Sunshine” I was taken to one of the wards arranged for abandoned children. All the beds are occupied – there are no vacant places. Each of the small children has three or four of the diagnoses I haven’t even heard about. In the corner of the room there is a dark-skinned and curly boy lying on a bed. Saliva runs down his cheek, his head is shaking; his eyes are very large and… blank. The nurse carefully wipes his face with a kerchief and starts to talk to him. I feel a lump in my throat and tears are coming into my eyes. I leave the ward.

Zaporozye inhabitants very seldom wish later to take their abandoned small children back, in accordance to Galina Galkina, the Chief physician of “Sunshine”. There have been only five cases of this kind during 20 years of her of work in “Sunshine”.

The only chance handicapped children have is new parents. But in Zaporozhye so far there have been no people wishing to adopt a child with special needs, only foreigners do this.

— Even clergymen do not adopt abandoned handicapped children, to say nothing of ordinary Zaporozhye citizens – sighs Galina.

After disabled children leave “Sunshine” they are transferred to different boarding houses specializing in the area of their diagnoses. They stay there until they reach 18 years of age; some stay until they are 35. Later they are taken to specialized retirement homes. Thus they die there: knowing nothing about their parents.

They will never be able to walk and to say «mummy» and «daddy»

Doctors of the regional clinical hospital work with abandoned disabled children on a regular basis.

— Children are brought to us with severest complications caused by their pathologies – Elena Krayevaya, the head of the diagnostic department, tells “Saturday plus”. Mental activity of such small children is often so much impaired that they will never be able to walk, to say “mummy” and “daddy”: they just take their food, breathe, defecate and that is all. Some of our patients being 3 years olds weigh only 8 kilograms! But however “difficult” the children are we never give up fighting for them.

By the way, a day of a child’s treatment in the intensive care costs the hospital about 1,5-2 thousand UAH. Some children spend as long as three or four months there.

No one is immune against fetus pathologies

No one is immune against fetus pathologies. Fortunately, Zaporozhye doctors can identify development defects on the early stages of pregnancies.

— Skeletal anomalies, central nervous system pathologies, heart defects can be identified. Chromosomal pathologies can be suspected, Down’s syndrome, for example, - Svetlana Sokolovska, chief specialist of the health protection management in the area of ultrasound diagnostics and obstetrics, tells “Saturday plus”. – In case a development anomaly is detected, the medical consultation assists the family in making a correct decision: either to give birth to the child if there is hope he can be rehabilitated or to abort the pregnancy if the identified pathology is incompatible with life and will lead to severe disablement.

Loved by their parents and happy!

There are a lot of families with disabled children in Zaporozhye. They are loved by their parents and happy. There are ladies who do not raise any alarm and do not plan to abandon their children in the children’s homes being pregnant with children with special needs; they read specialized literature and prepare for maternity however hard it might be in future.

I consider the issue of whether to give birth to a child a private affair of each person. But when one does make a choice one has to be honest with him/ or herself.

A personal opinion

Galina Galkina, the head physician of the regional infant home “Sunshine”:

— To some degree I am able to understand those mothers who have abandoned their “difficult” children, because a socially hopeless child is a tragedy for any family. But it is unethical and immoral in accordance with religious dogmas to form the public opinion such that women would consent to abortions. To my mind, each person should make decisions independently and should bear full responsibility for the results of the decision.

Father Michael, the head of the church department responsible for social and charitable assistance to the needy public in the Saint Protection Cathedral:

— The Church gives its blessing only for childbirth. An abortion is a great sin. It is an infanticide. Any birth of a child with some disabilities is a kind of an ordeal in our lives. I’ve been working with families having disabled children for more than 15 years. Believe me, their parents love them very much and are happy with each small part of progress and success of their children. As for those mothers who abandon their children I should say let them rather abandon them than kill them. These children will have families in the children’s homes.

Advice of a specialist

Elvira Goncharenko, a doctor – geneticist of the Zaporozhye center of family planning:

— It is necessary to perform ultrasonic scanning during the first term (11 through 14th week), second term (18 through 22nd week) and the third term (32 through 34th week) of the pregnancy. There are symptoms which occur and disappear within certain periods. If during the examinations performed within these periods any deviations are detected then the pregnant woman should get a geneticist advice. The best variant of all is to come to this doctor in advance and to plan the conception.

To plan does not mean only the wish, it includes medical examination and observation of certain rules: not to drink alcohol, not to smoke, to consume products rich in vitamins. There are a lot of problems which can be resolved prior to the beginning of a pregnancy.

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