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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Losing Septi

Yesterday, the head official at the orphanage told us that Indonesia would rather the eight-month-old girl we are interested in adopting, who was abandoned by her mother at birth, remain a ward of the state.

We've been planning for some time to adopt, but as a same-sex couple had given up hope of being able to do so from abroad. So it was a pleasant surprise when we learned about Septi. We hadn't imagined being able to adopt in predominantly Muslim Indonesia, but we would be honored to raise an Indonesian child. And this one has fixable special needs - mainly, a surgery when she is four years old to close her abdominal cavity with muscle tissue. Septi was born with gastroschisis; part of her intestines were outside of her body at birth. If that surgery is done too soon, it could suffocate her; the intestines could push too much against her major organs.

A charitable organization paid for Septi's first surgery, to close the opening with skin. They've remained interested in Septi's welfare and along with the government hospital that performed the surgery, to find adoptive parents for her. We happen to know a member of the charitable organization, who informed us about Septi. The baby has spent the past eight months in the hospital with loving (but busy) nurses looking after her. Given the number of Indonesian children without health problems who need parents, no one seemed interested in adopting her. We expressed interest and began to visit her, playing with her, bringing her a walker, stroller and other gifts.

We knew we had at least three strikes against us according to Indonesian law: we're foreigners, not Muslim, and we're spouses of the same sex. But we thought that perhaps on humanitarian grounds, we might have the privilege to raise Septi. We love Indonesia and would have made sure Septi knew about the country where she was born, as well as its predominant religion.

But instead, we fear she'll languish in an orphanage. The official there told us that not even the Minister of Social Affairs would allow our adoption of Septi, explaining that it would have been different if we were an opposite-sex couple. We briefed a friend about our setback. He said, “Maybe God has some other plan for you.” Perhaps. I hope that somehow, in the mysterious workings of the universe, our setback is Septi’s gain.

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