Chosen To Be a Mom
‘I love all people. Even those who offend me. When I grow up I’ll be a beauty. I’ll hug my Mom and then – my Dad’…
At the age of one, Anna and Zanda were abandoned by their parents who could neither support the babies, nor carry the burden of cerebral palsy of the twins. Three years in the orphanage for disabled infants made no improvement to the girls’ mental and physical development until Lia took the girls to her family.
‘I was chosen to be a Mom by the girls’, says Lia . ’It was my regular day in the orphanage where Anna and Zanda were sheltered. I was breathless when I heard Zanda’s voice: ‘Mom, give me some water, please’. Then Anna immediately added ‘And for me, too, Mom,’ she recalls.
Living in the shelter both girls suffered a lot from being disabled. The treatment was also not coming on easily: Anna suffered from acute pain each time a nurse would massage her.
Lia knows better than others what family means for a child. She was also an orphan adopted from the same orphanage by a Georgian couple.
Lia’s passion and efforts throughout the last year and a half paid off. Today Anna and Zanda are full of energy and optimism: they sing, they dance, they play and love to interact with others. Even more Zanda can now walk and Anna can crawl, though, her physical abilities are still limited. ‘I try to bring up the girls healthy and strong, giving them proper food, regular massages and water therapy,” says Lia. But most important, the girls are surrounded with love and warmth of the family.
The sisters are luckier than other 5400 abandoned children in Georgia. Parents send their children to institutions since they are not able to cope with poverty and unemployment, while social services to support families are almost absent. Social stigma is another reason for families to abandon their children, especially those with some form of physical disability. As a result, up to 90% of children in institutions , in fact have parents.
The UNICEF-supported “Prevention of Infant Abandonment and Deinstitutionalization” project strives to minimize the number of children in institutions across the country. Over the three years since the project started 208 infants were given a chance to live in a family. Of them, 41 children were placed in the foster families, new alternative and child-friendly solution as opposed to institutions.
According to UNICEF, over 1000 children without parental care were saved from life in institutions or returned to the families. Yet there is a long way to go before every child can have a family.