Tesney Davis

Our experience adopting a child with Down syndrome from Russia

Tesney Davis
By Tesney Davis
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January 9, 2013 (Bound4Life.com) - Two and a half years ago, my husband, Greg, and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. We handed him a “blank check” so to speak, and told him to cash it. Adoption became something that he was showing us he wanted for our family. We began to pray about adopting a child with special needs. Greg and I have a lot of experience with children who have special needs. It seemed like a natural fit for our family. As we prayed, God opened our eyes to children with disabilities wasting away in orphanages across the ocean in Eastern Europe. We joined God and started our adoption journey of a child with Down syndrome.

We made an inquiry to an international adoption advocacy group for children with special needs. When they sent us a link with profiles of waiting children, we were completely overwhelmed as we waded through the hundreds of faces. We narrowed it down to three little boys but we felt like by choosing one, we were rejecting all of the others. We finally decided to let our biological son, Clayton, who was three at the time, make the choice for us. He kept looking at a picture of a little boy named Sergey from Russia. We committed to adopt Sergey and started our adoption journey.

Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of Sergey’s family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt him. We were devastated when we received the news that the child we had planned to bring into our family was no longer available for adoption. We grieved hard. Although heartbroken for our own loss, God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt. So the way we saw it, two children would find homes because of our journey…Sergey went to a member of his biological family and now we would choose another child to come into our family. We took great comfort in knowing that God could see this when we first committed to Sergey! We were honored to be a part of his plan.

Shortly after losing Sergey, we received a new referral with a grainy photo of a four-year-old blond-haired boy wearing pink glasses named Kirill. We were more guarded with our emotions this time, but we had no doubts that we should commit to this child. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but we were fast and we thought we were looking at three more months at the most until we would have Kirill home.

Then another piece of devastating news arrived from our adoption agency: a tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt had hit the media…and the child was from Russia. We were told this was not good and that our adoption could be delayed indefinitely. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any Amercian adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell in love with him during our visits. This was our son.

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During that time, we were told by our in-country facilitator that Kirill would be the first child from his region ever to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated.  Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? I was somewhat nervous about Kirill being the first child adopted with Down Syndrome from his region, but our agency was very confident that if we got a court date, our adoption would be approved. We were told not to worry, so we didn’t. We were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…a lucky day! Our son was coming home!

March 17th arrived, and as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case by the judge. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They fought for us. Hard.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill had Down Syndrome and his “level of backwardness” made him unfit for any family. She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. She said she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. Why? The only reason? Because he has Down Syndrome. Even though we were approved by our home study agency and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. It made no sense whatsoever. Denying a child a family because he has Down Syndrome is a violation of human rights at its most basic level!

The next two months would be the most agonizing of our lives. I had to take a medical leave of absence from work because of my emotional state. I ate very little and slept even less. But God was working and helping me get a lot of the ugly out of my own life. If there’s one universal truth about adoption, it is this: adoption will show you the heart of God.  Only through our adoption journey were we shown the meaning of the words “hope” and “trust”. We had to recognize God’s sovereignty over creation; if he was sovereign over the world, wasn’t he sovereign over our adoption? If we claimed this truth, we had to trust him. We could not write Kirill’s story; Kirill’s story was God’s to write and our only job was to follow Christ and continue to pursue his heart. During that time, I wrote these words on our adoption blog:

“I wallow, I cry, I hide under the covers, I beg God to take the pain away, to work a miracle, to bring Kirill home. And I hear his voice saying, ‘I love Kirill more than you. I know your pain. I see your suffering. Trust me. Seek me. Listen to me. And know that I AM GOD…and you are not.’ Then I get up, thank God, and ask him for what I need to make it through the next day, hour, or minute. And you know what? He always gives me just enough. And really, what else can we ask for?”

Finally we got a telegram (I didn’t even know those still existed) with our Supreme Court date to appeal our regional judge’s decision. May 24, 2011, we stood before a panel of three Supreme Court judges and argued our case. We were told prior to our hearing to expect the worst. The best case scenario was that they would allow us another hearing with a different judge in our region, but that they would not overturn our original judge’s ruling. That meant we would have to wait for yet another court date.

But God is still a God of miracles. As the prosecutor in our hearing stood and read his opinion, that we should not be allowed to adopt Kirill, my heart sank. I just knew it was the end for our hopes of Kirill becoming a part of our family. Then a miracle happened: the head judge stood up and read his ruling. “the decision of the regional judge is OVERTURNED by the Supreme Court of Russia”. I didn’t hear much after that except that Kirill’s name was legally changed to “Gregory Kirill Davis”. I was too overwhelmed with emotions as I thanked God and started hugging everyone in the courtroom. We had been told to keep our composure because the Russian Supreme Court was very formal and serious; emotional outbursts would be perceived as weakness and we couldn’t show our feelings. That went out the window when the ruling was read and we celebrated in a flurry of tears and thanks to God for the miracle he had just performed.

We have been home almost five months with our son. I still get overwhelmed with emotions when I think about the miracle God performed. I’m so thankful we let God write the story. It’s so much better than anything we could have dreamed up on our own!

Reprinted with permission from Bound4Life.com

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Victoria Duran screams at 17-year-old Created Equal intern Ian Spencer at a demonstration in Columbus, OH, July 9.
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Mother plans lawsuit after video of her daughter assaulting pro-life teen goes viral

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

The mother of a Burger King employee caught on video shoving and hitting members of a pro-life activist group and kicking down their signs during an obscenity-laden tirade against “male privilege” says she will file a civil lawsuit against the pro-life group due to the “emotional distress” her family has experienced after the embarrassing clip went viral online.

The video in question shows Victoria Duran, 28, screaming in the face of a teenage boy who was standing beside an image of an abortion victim and passing out literature for pro-life group Created Equal on a street corner in Columbus, Ohio.  Duran was apparently enraged over a poster depicting a 12-week-old unborn child, which she insisted was a “lie.”

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“That is not what a fetus looks like,” Duran screams in the video. “It’s a clump of cells at 12 weeks. It does not look like that! It’s a clump of blank cells. You’re a racist f—ing male that doesn’t stand for women’s rights!”  She then violently kicked over the poster, and when she realized she was being filmed, physically assaulted the person holding the camera and started running down the street, kicking over another poster as she fled.  

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Seth Drayer, the group’s director of training, pursued Duran on foot and informed her they were calling the police.  She stopped running and confronted Drayer face-to face, screaming obscenities at close range until she spotted the police.  At that point, she shoved Drayer aside and boarded a nearby city bus.  The police removed her from the bus and arrested her on charges of assault and criminal damaging of property.

Duran’s mother, Anairis Carter, who lives in Florida, fought the charges, claiming her daughter is autistic and therefore can’t be blamed for her actions.  The county prosecutor dropped the criminal charges, but ordered Duran to pay $80 to Created Equal to cover the cost of the posters she destroyed.

Now, Carter is suing Created Equal for emotional distress.  She says that ever since the group posted video of her daughter’s violent outburst, her family has received threats and harassment, driving her to purchase a security system for their house.

“On top of emotional distress all the excess things that have to do that have come out of pocket for me to be able to protect my children because of what they've done," Carter complained to ABC6. "It irritates me that [the pro-life activists] are trying to make themselves be victims when they are hardly that if you're a victim you don't sensationalize it.”

On Created Equal’s Facebook page, Carter continued to defend her daughter and vowed to keep up the fight against the pro-life group.

“[Victoria] had an outburst ... autistic people have them,” Carter wrote. “She didnt [sic] deserve everything else that happened afterwards and THAT'S why I AM SUEING [sic] them. They have HURT my children and their lives and their way of life … So, no, I wont leave them alone. The courts will decide on what happens. It will be in their hands.”

In another Facebook post, Carter compared Created Equal to abortion clinic bombers and expressed her support for abortion-on-demand. 

“I am so disgusted by these people,” Carter wrote. “I actually went on their website and I saw the MOST horrendous of things [sic]. These people are using an intro of MLK's ‘I have a dream speech’ [sic] to compare themselves and what they do to to [sic] the civil rights and civil liberties movement. They are comapring [sic] what they do to something so important as this?”

“Trying to overturn Roe v Wade is the most horric [sic] thing there is,” declared Carter. “Trying to send women back to the 30's, 40's, and 50's where llegal [sic] abortions with wire hangers and dying on kitchen tables must be more acceptable to them than the alternative.”

Carter has repeatedly accused Created Equal of lying about her daughter shoving Drayer into the side of a city bus.  In response, the group recently posted a second video that clearly shows the assault, along with a bystander threatening to mace Duran if she continued her violent behavior.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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