Wednesday, July 22, 2009

a little boy named Matthew

died last night in Liberia.

He was about 3. He needed umbilical hernia surgery more than a year ago. In March when I met him, at our own Junior and Diamoh's orphanage, he was rolly poly, he laughed and smiled and even spoke...mostly to say "I'm gonna beat you up!". He had some spina bifida issues, he needed more medical help than was available in Liberia. His adoptive Mom, H, had gone to Liberia in February in hopes of getting a medical visa for him if an adoption was not possible (the suspension on adoptions in Liberia had just started several weeks earlier), but some things didn't come together the way she'd hoped. Matthew was starting to get pressure sores from the weight of the grapefruit sized umbilical herniation on his tummy. Several of us treated those wounds, showed nannies how to keep up the treatments after we'd left, even his soon-to-be-adoptive brother Charles, 13, helped out. We all wanted Matthew to do well, and be well. Somewhere after late March, some thing changed. Matthew got sick, really sick. He lost a lot of weight, he began to fade. A lot of ugly things were being said, some people made accusations regarding Matthew, BUT: he STILL needed surgery, he still needed to be adopted, at the very least he needed to be where he could get really good medical care for his little lumpy, bumpy, twisted body. As I understand it, money was raised to help him, from several sources, somehow he had surgery in Liberia, but not until after he had gotten really sick and lost that weight. I have read accusations and innuendos, no kidding: about whose money was better. It was shameful! I saw photos of Matthew taken after we'd left Liberia and I could barely believe they WERE Matthew! He was thin thin thin, his skin barely covering his bones actually, weak and pasty colored. A lot of "stuff" happened that I don't know details about, I have my own opinions, but who doesn't??
Matthew died this morning or late last night. I could not believe that news.
I do not believe that Liberia had dead babies with special needs in mind when the suspension was imposed to correct irregularities and possible "marketing " allegations of non- orphans being matched with families and adopted.....I don't dispute that this was possible and probable. NO provisions were made for any cases when the suspension began however. A "new law" was ordered to be written and passed to protect the children of Liberia..................THAT was January. Last night was July 22. To date there is no new law any where near passage and Matthew is dead.
The military expression for this kind of tragedy is a rather pragmatic one: "collateral damage" and it means the unintended outcome of designated actions.
The gossip and ugly posts on some of the Liberian adoptive family email groups aka "lists" is shameful. The braggings on the part of some about their organizations being "better" "transparent" "ethical" etc etc, what THEY have done as opposed to what "others" have or have not done, is nauseating. A BABY DIED, unnecessarily. A medical visa was requested, after all the details were worked out, even with the adoptive mom in Liberia, and our government denied it. THAT was not Liberia. THAT was our government. Has the adoptive community banded together to demand an answer for this travesty of justice? Not yet, and I suspect that as long as one agency can blame another and spew "This would NEVER happen on MY watch!" kinds of rhetoric, it will not. There are other life-threatened special needs children in Liberia, needing their adoptive families to be able to complete their adoptions and get those children home BEFORE they too become "collateral damage." I wonder if Matthew's tragic, and again I say, unnecessary, death, will serve as a catalyst in dealing with this suspension of all adoptions, be motivation to write a good law, process the cases waiting already, address the special needs children who don't HAVE time to wait out a suspension and the writing of new laws, ie, do something that is truly FOR the good of the children. I won't post the "after " photo of Matthew. This photo is how I remember a sweet little guy who needed a good break, and didn't get it. He is with Jesus now. That is better for Matthew, in light of what didn't happen in a timely fashion for him on earth. I would just love for his life , which ended much too soon, to become a symbol for the needed adoption provisons for the truly needy children of Liberia, and the poster child for new laws with teeth, and ethical compassion. I am sure that his birth mother is grieiving over the loss of her son, for whom she had such hopes of a better quality of life, as is H, his adoptive mom, who met both Matthew and his birth mom, and also loved him. The lady/ family who was matched with him later on to help with a second attempt at a medical visa, cared for him too. Those of us who had been in Liberia and cared for him at all, we too are grieving. He was "our little boy". I am sad for what happened to Matthew. I will be sadder still, if the events which led to his death do not contribute to a better plan for adoption and child care in Liberia ...............................


Kelli said...

That is so sad...I'm so sorry for him and all who loved him. God have mercy. I hope all of the red tape is straightened out for the sake of these children.

Blessed Mom of 8 said...


My heart breaks reading this. Oh how it must grieve Jesus and our Father even more. To spew anything less than love is sickening during a time such as this. Blame gets us nowhere and hate does the exact opposite of unity!

How will they know we are His?

By our love for one another. May this be a lesson for all adoptive families - that no one is better or greater or more important. No child is more or less important. No family deserves a break more than the next. We are all in this together. One family under God!

Oh sweet friend, I'm sorry for this little boy and all those touched by his loss.

I'm sorry for you heart and knowing that precious Secret is waiting too for a break I pray he gets sooner than later.

I love you so much and my heart is hurting with you!


Hannah said...

Lord Jesus, let this precious little ones death be the catalyst for change. Do not let this little one be ignored. Do not let those who have the power turn their heads. Blessed be the name of the Lord.



Eight Isn't Enough said...

What an incredible post...I am so very sorry for this horrible unnecessary loss. We need to pray that our governments wake up and start seeing through the eyes of Jesus...right now they are doing satan's bidding and he seems to be winning. But God will have the victory...but we NEED TO BE IN CONSTANT PRAYER. The voices of His children need to be heard.

Erin said...

What is that thing they say? You get a lot more accomplished when you stop worrying about who will get the credit, or something like that. It is especially heartbreaking to see in-fighting within the adoption community- the children pay for our selfishness.
My sweet baby boy has a medical condition that would have shortly finished him had his adoption been delayed. My heart breaks for every one of these children stuck in the gap.

Jiff said...

I'm so sad for Matthew. And for all those who loved and took care of him.

Anonymous said...

Gosh... hearing more about the whole thing makes my heart sick... especially agencies representing themselves as "Christian".

Kristen Love said...

How very sad. I am glad you wrote about it.

Ginny said...

You did a great job with this post Linda. Thanks for writing it. We are all so sad about what has happened but hoping, that like you wrote, his death may be the catalyst that gets things moving so that no more children have to die waiting for help.

Kami Johnson said...

I remember that day (I am the lady in the photo). I was actually getting Matthew to laugh by tickling him. I kept making funny noises and tickling around is neck. Awe! Thanks for posting this Linda.

Anonymous said...

May I use this on Adoption Connect? It will have your name and will be linked back here.


Nolta Family said...


Thank you for having the courage and honesty to address this as you did. I'm afraid, however, that those that should be ashamed of their actions will very likely not recognize themselves in this. It should never have been about anything other than Matthew's care and protection.

Thank you for sharing the photo of Matthew, Kami and me. I am honored to have been able to have spent time with Matthew and whatever small joy our attention might have brought to him.

Thanks again and may the Lord continue to bless you and Charlie


Laurel said...

So sorry to hear of Matthew's death. I pray that all in the Liberian adoption world will be able to join together in UNITY, and that the work of the enemy will cease so that God's good works may be restored.

Laurel :)

Steve said...


Your words were spoken so well!!

I too was able to meet this little one and was thankful that we could show the nannies how to care for him. He was precious. I think God gives these little ones with physical disabilities the ability to be JOYFUL and bring joy to many others. The Bible says in Matthew 12:25, "Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand."

The adoption agencies that truly have a motive for the children and giving the kids a better life (not for profit) need to band together and carry the Lord's torch into Liberia and everywhere else in the world there are children who need a home!

soontobemomof9 said...

oh wow... what else is there to say? It is sad, someone will answer for it someday, but for now Matthew is being held lovingly in the arms of God, free from any pain or sickness. How I wish the whole world would rise up and see that there is NO NEED for a child to suffer like this!