There are children we see every day whose photos we can’t share. How do we advocate for these children, WACAP’s Lindsey Gilbert asks, sharing about a particular group of children in India so often overlooked: children with Down syndrome who are waiting for families.
By Lindsey Gilbert, India Program Manager
October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and I have loved seeing the many social media posts and articles about Down syndrome. There are stories about people with Down syndrome that help educate and demystify, and many posts about children with Down syndrome who are waiting for an adoptive family! However, my heart aches for one group so often overlooked: children with Down syndrome from India.
Though more and more families are adopting from India, there are few families who come into WACAP’s India program open to needs like Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or blindness. Other countries, such as China, Bulgaria, and Taiwan allow waiting children to be listed on agency or adoption advocacy websites. As a result, many families see their sweet faces, and many children with Down syndrome are matched with their forever family! However, India’s central adoption authority, CARA, does not allow adoption agencies to post photos of waiting children anywhere online. The unfortunate result of that is fewer families for children who are older or have more complex needs.
Of course, we understand and respect India’s right to make decisions about their children, and this rule was made to protect the privacy of children. At the same time, we know that it is often a photo that first draws a family’s heart towards a child, so what do we do when we can’t share those photos? How do we advocate for the children you can’t see?
We tell their stories. I can’t show you a picture of “Heidi,” but I can tell you she’s nine years old, has a wonderful imagination, and loves to ride tricycles! I can’t show you “Una’s” gorgeous big brown eyes, but I can tell you she’s a happy and gentle three-year-old. They both happen to have Down syndrome, too.
Even though I can’t show you their faces, they are no less real than the waiting children you do see, and no less in need of a family. My hope this Down Syndrome Awareness Month is that more families would become aware of children like them, and take the leap of faith to bring them home.
WACAP wants every child to have their best chance for permanency. To open the door for more potential families, WACAP is offering a $5,000 promise child grant for eligible families adopting any child with Down Syndrome in India. Contact WACAP Family Finders to learn more.
About Program Manager Lindsey Gilbert: Lindsey became a member of WACAP’s China adoption team in 2011, after joining WACAP as a volunteer. She’s helped numerous families through their adoption process as a case manager, and she currently dedicates her time to both managing WACAP’s Thailand program as well as advocating for waiting children in WACAP’s international programs. She and her husband Geoff adopted their four-year-old daughter Vennela from India through WACAP in December 2017. Outside of work, Lindsey can be found practicing her Indian cooking, in the garden, or on a hiking trail with Geoff, Vennela and their two dogs.
Image Source: Canva stock illustration/WACAP design.