Thursday, August 24, 2000

Family adopts disabled orphans

Foreign children find home here

By Michael D. Clark

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Scott and Kathy Rosenow hope to travel to Bolivia soon to adopt a blind boy into their family.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        FAIRFIELD TWP. — In China there is an orphaned infant girl with deformed hands and feet. Because of her birth defect she is considered “unadoptable.”

        Halfway across the globe in Bolivia there is a blind 2-year-old boy whom orphanage officials in this South American country describe as “a child of lesser value.”

        But Scott and Kathy Rosenow of Butler County know better.

        To this Fairfield Township couple, these abandoned, physically challenged children are precious gifts from God and deserving of a place in their growing family.

        Already in the last four years the Rosenows have adopted three foreign children with disabilities, embracing them as their own along with their four biologi cal children.

        Soon they plan to travel to Bolivia in hopes of adopting the blind boy, who suffers from detached retinas. Corrective surgery, unavailable to the boy in Bolivia, will be done here in hopes of restoring his sight.

        In the fall they plan to travel to China to adopt the little girl, whose deformities may also be correctable through surgery.

        The Rosenows say their

        family's “mission” is “to be used by God to provide a loving, safe and edifying home for destitute, special-needs children from any place on Earth.”

        Two of their biological children have birth defects. Ryan, 10, was born without a right hand and Erin, 17, suffered from learning, language and physical disabilities.

        The Rosenows' experience in helping these two children overcome their respective challenges and develop strong, positive personalities prompted them to adopt Raiza, a Bolivian girl who suffered severe burns and needed to come to the United States for surgery.

        Two-year-old Nathan, also from Bolivia, was born without a left foot and was abandoned by his mother. Now fitted with a prosthetic leg, he is all bouncy energy, smiles and hugs in his new American home.

        Megan, a 5-year-old Chinese girl born with deformed hands and feet, is undergoing corrective surgery.

        “We knew we had something to offer. Our main motivation is to help these children,” said Mr. Rosenow, an engineer whose salary falls far short of covering adoption and medical costs for the adopted children.

        Donations through local and national Christian groups help pay for the Rosenows' often expensive adoption process, travel and surgeries. They have created a ministry and nonprofit organization — Shepherd's Crook — to better handle donations and deal with the many government agencies, both here and abroad, that have to approve each adoption. Neighbors and members of the family's church — North Cincinnati Community Church in Mason — help when they can.

        All the while they maintain a neat two-story suburban home adorned with dozens of child photos and renovated periodically to accommodate newer members.

        The Rosenows also home-school six of the seven children, and Mrs. Rosenow uses a detailed and individualized daily schedule for each child for both instructional work and physical-therapy sessions for those recovering from surgery.

        Children rise at 7 a.m. daily and are required to read in bed for a half-hour. By 7:50 a.m. they are expected to be dressed, have their beds made and be ready for breakfast, Mrs. Rosenow said.

        Bible study is served up with breakfast. From 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. the older children do house chores while youngsters begin their preschool lessons. Individualized instruction follows through the day, interlaced with physical therapy and play.

        “They are incredible,” neighbor Ann Wilson said. “It's just amazing to see them ... and the way they live.”

        “We're not so amazing,” Mrs. Rosenow says modestly.

        Yes they are, counters Jeff Greer, president of Back 2 Back Ministries in Mason.

        The ministry coordinates and collects donations for the Rosenows' adoptions, which range from $17,000 to $30,000 per child, not including medical expenses.

        “They have sacrificed everything to make this happen. They are truly living out their faith,” Mr. Greer said.

        Mr. Rosenow said it's a simple matter of values and priorities.

        “We don't have summer vacations, and we don't have a boat ... but we can do without those,” he said.

        Mrs. Rosenow agreed, saying that “we struggle sometimes. We clip a lot of coupons. At times we have to wait to buy new shoes.”

        More families locally and nationally are choosing to make such sacrifices. According to the most recent survey of states and data from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, foreign adoptions have more than doubled this decade.

        According to the National Council on Adoption more than 17 percent of children adopted by American parents in 1996 were born abroad. In 1992 about 6,500 children were adopted from overseas and in 1998 foreign adoptions topped 15,000.

        In the Tristate area an estimated 120-150 foreign adoptions are made annually, said Susan Spohr, an administrator with the International Adoption Center at Children's Hospital Medical Center, which offers pre- and post-foreign-adoption services regarding medical requirements.

        “We have people question if it's fair to ask your children to sacrifice, but whenever we decide to adopt it's a total family decision,” Mrs. Rosenow said.

        She said their dream “is to expand this ministry so that we can also serve as an instrument of assistance for other families with a similar ... calling from God,” she said.


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