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The Success Story That Never Happened

By: Chaya Surie Malek  

In life, there are times when we succeed and times when we fail. Naturally, we tend to focus on the successes and achievements, and we try to forget the failures. However, sometimes the failures can teach us important lessons. Therefore in order not to miss the integral lessons that the experience can teach us, we must emphasize and highlight the successes that never happened. 

Rafi is an adorable seven-year old boy who is waiting for a family to come forward and adopt him. His big brown eyes sparkle, and his laughter echoes joyfully as he playfully races his favorite toy care throughout the house. He has more stamina and energy than you have ever seen, and you wonder if he ever tires. After ten minutes with Rafi, you question why an adorable bright little boy like him has not yet found a permanent adoptive home. 

Soon you begin to realize why Rafi has not yet been adopted. You see, Rafi is not just energetic. He is diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, with an emphasis on the H. He is on medication, and while that helps, he still needs to be closely supervised. In addition to his ADHD, sometimes Rafi feels and acts angry. In the summer, he hit a boy in camp. As adorable and as birght as Rafi is, who wants to take on a challenge like this? And that is what Rafi is. A beautiful, endearing, charming little challenge.

But before we dismiss the idea of adopting a challenging or special needs child, we need to take into account what his or her life has been like. In his five and a half years in foster care, Rafi has lived with several families. He considers his current foster family his mommy and daddy and does not understand why he can't live with them forever. Rafi wonder why only he has to leave his family. He wonders if there is something wrong with him. Perhaps he did something bad. Perhaps he is bad. Maybe he doesn't deserve to have a family love him forever. Two families have even told him that they wanted to adopt him but then changed their minds. What does "adopted" mean anyway? Rafi also worries that maybe he won't like his new family. Rafi worries that he will miss his mommy, daddy, and sister. Maybe he will never see them again. With all this going through his mind, why shouldn't he act out? 

Rafi's latest rejection came just a few months ago. A family from another state who had a lot of experience with special needs children was interested in adopting Rafi. After detailed investigation and several short visits, Ohel sent Rafi to visit with the family for one month and everyone hoped that this would turn into a permanent stay with his "forever family." 

Rafi had a hard time separating from his "mommy" and "daddy" but hid his feelings of confusion and loss behind his bright charming smile. The first few days were perfect, but ten days later the family called because Rafi was not listening to anyone and had hit one of the other children. The Ohel social worker explained to the family that children need time to adjust and that Rafi's behaviors were strongly connected to his understandable feelings of confusion, anger, and sadness. Sure Rafi was a handful with his ADHD, but he was also hurting emotionally. While externally he seemed adjusted, he really was very confused. Nevertheless, the parents said that their other children did not want him to stay, and he had to leave their home immediately. 

With no other choice, a volunteer from Ohel flew down to get Rafi. Where is he going now? Who is this person and where is she taking him? Is she going to be his new mommy? With all these questions going through his mind, he sat patiently on the airplane willing himself to be brave and strong. Fortunately, his previous foster family agreed to take him back, but now Rafi really knows that this is not his "forever family." 

And so we are left with the success story that never happened. If success is measured by effort, then this story should have been a "home run." Too often, we publicize the success stories that did happen. But we also need to publicize the success stories that did not happen. Because at the end of the day that is what we are left with. We are left with Rafi, the 7-year old ADHD boy that no one wants. Rafi still needs a family. While he is yearning for the love and security that a permanent home will bring, he has suffered tremendously and been hurt so much. Any family that would consider adopting Rafi needs to realize that because his trust has been broken, he will test them repeatedly. 

And so we are left with Rafi who is still longing to be loved by a family. We are still trying to find the success story for Rafi. Admittedly, most families will find Rafi's many issues overwhelming. But then again, he only needs that one family. If you are interested in more information about Rafi or any of the other foster children up for adoption please contact Ohel at 718.851.6300. There are currently several boys between the ages of 6 and 12, including two brothers, who still need adoptive families. We need your help to turn each of the success stories that did not happen into a success story that did happen.

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