It seemed “harmless” enough—watching a TV magazine show. But watching that program would forever change the family of Tim and Liz Polen. Liz saw an exposé on the mistreatment of special needs adults and children and God used that to grab their attention and, more importantly, their hearts. When Liz saw the children, she thought of their own 11-year old Down’s daughter, Emily. Liz was hooked and Tim was soon to follow.
Liz was so touched that she asked God, “What do you want me to do about this need?” Tim’s encouragement to check out the children in the exposé led them to a website that facilitates interested families in connecting with and adopting abandoned special needs children. As they prayed over the list of available children, God led them to five-year old Olga in the Ukraine and the adventure swung into overdrive.
In the information-gathering process, the Polens have learned how very differently special needs children are viewed and [mis]treated in some countries. In the Ukraine, all such children are put in orphanages at birth and end up permanently institutionalized. Families consider it demeaning to have this type of child and they think their special needs child is better off with “their own kind” anyway. Even if the families wanted to keep their children, the lack of support for them practically forces them to give up their special needs children.
Keep the Polens in prayer as they finish all the remaining paperwork and applications (including approval from Homeland Security/INS) and await the call to travel to the Ukraine. Once there, they will meet with a judge to explain why they want a Ukrainian child and what they can offer her. Pray also that the birth family does not raise an objection and that a positive decision will be made on-the-spot. (While they are gone, they will need folks to watch Emily and Sarah, who is very much in favor of this adoption.) If all goes well, they may stay long enough to actually return with precious Olga, avoiding a costly second trip.
Written by Donna Walker
Update: Olga arrived and is now part of the Polen family.