|Crystal Kupper and "Guyana" which is actually Gayane but these|
odars can't spell or pronounce anything except "SAVIOR"
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Thursday, March 16, 2017
siblings should never be divided by adoption.
By Cynthia Washicko, The Daily Breeze
His family’s flight was scheduled to leave in less than 12 hours, but Tom Spiglanin was still standing outside the United States embassy in freezing cold Armenian weather.
He planned to pick up his newly adopted son’s visa from just beyond the embassy’s front doors, but so far he hadn’t received any indication it would actually be issued.
“If we don’t get this visa, we don’t fly home,” he said.
Then, late in the afternoon while his worrying mounted, an email arrived saying the travel document was ready.
The touch-and-go situation at the embassy last month was just one of the final hurdles Spiglanin and his wife, Lauren, overcame to bring their 16-year-old son from Armenia to join their family in Rancho Palos Verdes. The Spiglanins had adopted Erik’s younger sister, Arianna, in 2009. Now, nearly eight years later, they say their family is complete.
The process of adopting Erik began when his grandmother died in late 2013. She had been caring for Erik since his mother died shortly after she gave birth to Arianna.
At that point, his aunt contacted Lauren Spiglanin and asked if she and Tom would adopt Erik.
“And I said, ‘absolutely,’ ” Lauren said.
NEVER FORGOT ERIK
Adopting Erik, who will keep his last name of Petrosyan, had been on her mind ever since they took Arianna home eight years ago. They’d kept in touch with him via Skype several times a year while they were raising Arianna, who was born premature and, because of complications, with a brain injury that left her with a condition similar to cerebral palsy. Now the bright, young 8-year-old gets help speaking via a display that tracks her eye movements. She’s made it clear that she’s happy to have Erik home with her, Tom Spiglanin said.
Even though they’d already adopted Arianna, Lauren Spiglanin said the process of bringing Erik to California wasn’t any easier this time around.
In fact, it was even more difficult.
Because Erik is a teenager and wasn’t living in an orphanage, new hurdles had to be overcome that the Spiglanins didn’t face when they adopted Arianna.
Right off the bat, they hit a roadblock — most of the attorneys they contacted in the U.S. to help facilitate the international adoption turned them away. Erik’s age, and the fact that he was living in a private home rather than an orphanage, were too much for them to take on, she said.
After working her way through several personal connections, Lauren Spiglanin contacted David Adishian of Palos Verdes Estates, a longtime family friend, for help. He put her in touch with his son, who finally connected her with an attorney in Georgia who said she could help them.
“I was flying high,” Lauren Spiglanin said. “Then we came to a slam.”
UNEXPECTED ROADBLOCK TO ADOPTION
Just as the couple was making their way through the U.S. side of the process to adopt Erik, they were hit with another bombshell — the attorney they’d hired to help them through the international adoption process broke the news to them that she wasn’t approved to facilitate the adoption in Armenia.
One night, shortly after that setback, Lauren Spiglanin decided to take matters into her own hands. After an online search, she sent an email to the Armenian minister of justice. In it, she told the minister that every day since they adopted Arianna she had thought of Erik, and that every single day it weighed on her.
“Basically, I just poured my heart out,” she said. “I guess (the minister) was really touched by my email and the photos I sent of Ari.”
Within hours of that email, the minister gave a special approval for the Spiglanins to adopt Erik, and they were back on track.
In what turned out to be a three-year process, they filed one piece of paperwork after another, conferred with attorneys in the U.S. and across the Atlantic and, finally, after a court hearing in Armenia, received approval to bring Erik back to California with them.
After obtaining Erik’s visa from the embassy in Armenia, the Spiglanins arrived back home Feb. 9, nearly three weeks after they’d left for Armenia.
A FULL FAMILY NOW
During the roughly eight years between bringing Arianna home and adopting Erik, Tom Spiglanin said, it felt like something was missing in their family.
“It was like there was something incomplete about us. We weren’t full,” he said.
Now, Lauren is working to open a memory care facility for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in Torrance while Erik attends Palos Verdes High. He has a knack for photography and likes his history class. And the Spiglanins said they’ve been contacted by multiple teachers praising Erik.
The only bumps they’ve experienced so far have stemmed from a language barrier. But, with Tom’s limited grasp of Armenian and Lauren’s Armenian family, they eventually find ways to work around that, they said.
They’re looking forward to the future when Erik becomes more acclimated, and the communication barriers become easier to overcome, Tom Spiglanin said.
They’re planning a trip to Hawaii sometime in the future — Lauren is pushing for April, but Tom says that’s not likely.
“There’s an intensity that you’re operating at to get everything done, and this adoption is just a part of what we do,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to relaxing.”
YEREVAN — Thousands of children in Armenia are needlessly separated from their parents and placed in institutions due to disability or poverty, Human Rights Watch said in a report released late in February. The government should urgently provide community-based services and quality, inclusive education so that all children, including children with disabilities, can grow up in a family, the group stressed.
The 102-page report, “‘When Will I Get to Go Home?’ Abuses and Discrimination against Children in Institutions and Lack of Access to Quality Inclusive Education in Armenia,” documents how thousands of children in Armenia live in orphanages, residential special schools for children with disabilities, and other institutions. They often live there for years, separated from their families. More than 90 percent of children in residential institutions in Armenia have at least one living parent. Human Rights Watch also found that the Armenian government is not doing enough to ensure quality, inclusive education for all children. Inclusive education involves children with disabilities studying in their community schools with reasonable support for academic and other achievement.
“The government of Armenia has made some bold commitments to reduce the number of children in institutions, but needs to make sure those promises are backed by serious, sustained action,” said Jane Buchanan, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “All children have the right to grow up in a family, and government and donor resources should support families and children, not large institutions.”
Children have the right not to be unnecessarily separated from their parents. Neither poverty nor disability can be a justification or a basis for placement of a child in an institution.
Residential institutions often serve as the main distributor of social services to families facing difficult life circumstances such as poverty, unemployment, poor housing, health issues, or disability. Services and staff are often concentrated in institutions, rather than available and accessible in communities, including for the rehabilitation and education of children with disabilities. This compels many families to send their children to residential institutions, even when they would prefer to raise them at home.
The government aims to move children out of at least 22 residential institutions by 2020 and transform these buildings into centers for community-based services. Some have already been converted. However, the three orphanages that exclusively house children with disabilities will continue to operate. Failing to provide family-based care for children with disabilities on an equal basis with other children is discriminatory and should be ended immediately, Human Rights Watch said.
The government also has stalled key amendments to the Family Code, which would facilitate foster care and adoption – options essential when children cannot safely return to their birth families. The current government budget provides support for only 25 foster families in the country.
According to UNICEF, financial support for children in institutions in Armenia is between $3,000 and $5,000 per year per child. These funds could be used for community-based services and direct support to families, which are less expensive in the long term, according to UNICEF.
Even well-resourced orphanages are often overcrowded, with children organized into large groups with few caregivers. Even the most dedicated staff may not be able to provide the individual attention and nurturing that children need to thrive.
When Meri was born with Down Syndrome in 2009, a doctor encouraged her parents to leave Meri in the hospital, claiming she would not live long due to her disability. After a family crisis five years later, her parents decided they wanted to learn what happened to their daughter, and ultimately found her living in an orphanage for children with disabilities. Her father Artur described her growth and progress upon returning home from the orphanage: “She wasn’t walking at all. She only started walking when she came home. … She is understanding more. She knows her name. She can respond. … Meri is a blessing. If we didn’t trust our family doctor, we never would have abandoned her.”
In terms of education, the government has committed to making the entire school system inclusive by 2022. But at present the lack of an individual approach to academic achievement, as well as physical barriers in schools and communities, means that some children with disabilities in Armenia receive no education at all. Others enrolled in “inclusive” community schools may attend school for only a few hours a day, or a few days a week.
Children with disabilities often do not attend classes with other children or if they are in the classroom, may not be provided with the services they need to participate in an academic curriculum. They may instead be given art, sewing, or other tasks to occupy them. For many children with disabilities, their education consists primarily or exclusively of one hour or shorter individual sessions once or a few times a week.
Community schools often lack sufficient staff, in particular aides who can provide direct support to one or more children. In some cases, a parent, most often a child’s mother, will remain with the child in the classroom to provide support. Some children with disabilities receive sub-standard home education, with teachers visiting a child at home to teach basic literacy and numeracy only.
International standards provide that schools should be fully accessible, and provide reasonable accommodations to support students, regardless of their disability. Support measures provided to children with disabilities should be individualized, based on each child’s particular learning needs, and strengthen opportunities for students with disabilities to participate fully in the classroom.
Children with disabilities who age out of orphanages or special schools may remain in institutions as adults indefinitely. This can be due to the lack of accessibility in housing, transportation, and employment. In other cases, however, they remain in institutions because they are deprived of their legal capacity, denied the right to make decisions for themselves. They can be denied opportunities most people take for granted, such as deciding where to live, having a job, developing friends and hobbies of their choosing, finding a life partner or spouse, or raising children.
“Edmond” (not his real name), a young adult with a mild intellectual disability who lives in an institution, told Human Rights Watch, “I cannot answer who decides that I stay here. … I have been here since I was 8 years old, and I will stay here. It is one of my dreams to be able to live on my own and live my own life. For a long time, I thought about being able to live on my own, but I lost hope.”
“Children and young adults with disabilities have the same rights to education and opportunities as their peers,” Buchanan said. “Making sure children with disabilities can go to school in their communities is a good first step, but it is an empty gesture unless children get a quality education that enables them to achieve academically, fulfill their potential, and contribute to a diverse society.”
(To watch the YouTube video in English visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3quKl5w96rs
You can donate to AID BEYOND BORDERS, their website shows the many families they help stay together