Joshua's Homecoming Video

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

THROUGH ANOTHER HOOP!

Every other weekend I work at a group home for four special ladies with disabilities (3 out of the 4 have Down syndrome).  I work the sleep shift. And I love it!!! So for the most part, it is the perfect job for me.  My children are in bed sleeping when I leave and sleeping when I return. They don’t even know that I’ve been gone unless I mention it.  And for the most part, they usually sleep through the night.  There have been a few rare instances, when one of the kids have gotten sick while I was working...... and Todd handles it like a pro.  It usually makes him very thankful for me being home the rest of the nights......it's kind of nice.     
Well the weekend before Christmas was my weekend to work.  I got home early Sunday morning and checked my email.  I found that the night before we had received an email from our placement agency so I sat down to read it.  In the email, it stated that the Baby Home or orphanage, where our little guy lives, is ready to transfer him to an institution.  He has aged out and legally they are not supposed to be keeping him there anymore.  I felt sick to my stomach.  But there was more, our Eastern Europe coordinator was wondering where our homestudy was.  She knew that it was finished but hadn’t received it yet.  She needed our homestudy (and other documents) ASAP in order for the Baby Home to keep our little guy there a little longer. 
I don’t know if you remember or not from previous posts- but our hands were basically tied.  In our state, after the homestudy is finished there is an extra step that most other states don’t have.  Our homestudy has to have DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) approval.  This can take 6-8 weeks!  Ours had just been sent in 2 weeks before.  There was nothing we could do but pray.  I sent an email to our family and Reece’s Rainbow friends  asking them to pray that our DCFS approval would be expedited.  I also sent an urgent email to our social worker, who wrote up our homestudy, asking her if there was ANYTHING that could be done. 
But the situation was just not looking good.  I didn’t want to think about how traumatic it would be for our little guy to be transferred to an institution.  He has lived at his Baby Home since he was 1 month old.  It is all he has ever known.  His particular Baby Home is probably one of the best, if not the best, in the region.  But these institutions..........oh man.  I still don’t like to think about it.  These institutions are basically human warehouses.  They keep the children alive but they don’t truly get to live – they merely get to exist. 
So we prayed.  My heart ached.  One comforting thing I did found out was that he would still be available for adoption.  In some regions/countries, when they are transferred, they are no longer available for adoption. That was, of course,  my biggest fear.   
Well Monday morning, I hovered at my computer, waiting for a response from my social worker.  It was mid-morning and I had not heard from her yet and so I thought I’d better call her.  This was a major disruption and it called for action.  As I was looking for her phone number, I heard the ‘ding’ that I had received an email.  It was from my social worker.  Now this is where it gets good.  God’s kind of good.
She proceeds to apologize profusely to me for causing me to worry.  Why??  Because she forgot to tell me WE RECEIVED DCFS APPROVAL LAST WEEK.  What?!  WHAT!!??  You could have knocked me over with a feather, I was so surprised.
Then, she says that she had already sent it in the mail, and had we received it yet?!  Our mail arrived at 11am.  So I ran out and opened the mailbox.  Sitting in the mailbox was a big fat manila envelope.  It had all arrived!!  You can call it what you want but I will call it a miracle.  My God is a God of Miracles.  I witnessed it firsthand!!  Thank you God!
Well receiving the DCFS approved homestudy and other documents set things into motion.  The next morning, I headed to our state capitol an hour away.  I had 57 documents apostilled.  Another miracle…….not a mistake in the bunch.  I had a lot of prayer time as it took 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete this huge task and not a magazine or book in sight.  I got home after lunch, Todd took the  freshly apostilled homestudy and other important documents, which make up our Registration Application, copied them and over-nighted  them to our placement agency. 
And NOW???
Our Registration Application has been FedExed to Eastern Europe!!!  It’s getting exciting, folks!!  It may take a month for our application to be processed but at least it is out of our hands!!! Once our application has been processed we will get an ‘invitation’ to travel and meet our little guy!!  So hopefully February we can travel for our first trip though it may be March. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

under construction

sorry if it looks a little eclectic.............I'm trying to decide if I like the background or not.  I do love our new header and blog button that was designed for us from at LU at The Poppies Blog!  Of course the perfectionist in me can't stand that the borders are see through and that I can't figure out how to fix it! Well that's all for now, hope that you have a great day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Update

Well, I'm back from my Christmas break from posting:)  We've had such a nice Christmas.  Our kids are in such a fun season of life for Christmas.  BUT it is crazy busy.  CRAZY!!!   We are blessed to have all of our immediate families and most of our extended families within a 20 minute radius.  Within a 10 day span we had 7 family get- togethers, +1 birthday party, +1 soccor game and for the first time ever our own little family Christmas (for the past 12 years there wasn't even an open day for our own)!  So for 10 days we have been running hard!!  We, thanks to my husband, even had a spreadsheet that reminded us what food, presents and games needed to be brought to each place.  And in the middle of all of this, I squeezed in a run to our state capitol to get some adoption papers apostilled. My mind has been absolutely spinning!  Last night we had our last get-together and when we got home, everything was put on the living room floor and then we all crashed and went to bed. This morning I practically had to wade through the toys, empty boxes, pack n play, diaper bags - you name it, it was on our floor!  So after a day of slowly getting our house back under control, I felt I could finally sit down to post an update. 
So I will try to update you........ 

April and Brian - It was/is so hard but they did not get their travel date on Christmas. So first of all, I guess I would ask you to pray for them because they are hurting right now.  Can you imagine the disappointment?  Please pray for them.

Jed and Vicki - Jed surprised Vicki by arriving in Nepal early for Christmas.  Hopefully, they will hear in the next 2 weeks if they can go home.  Please pray that they could come home as a family in January.

Ukraine - The vote was postponed until January sometime.  This is a big deal vote.  It affects many Reece's Rainbow families. 

Our Adoption - I have a story for you that deserves it's own post.  Maybe tomorrow.  For tonight I need to close.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Prayer Requests

Before I share anymore of our adoption journey, I wanted to tell you about some of my family and friends who need your prayers today.

Todd's cousin April and husband Brian -Their blog is Plan A Ethiopia - They were supposed to leave Christmas Day to pick up their 2 beautiful children.  They found out a few days ago that the Embassy wants more information and documentation and they may not get to go.  Please Pray that they can still leave on Christmas Day!  They have their tickets bought and are ready to go. 

Friends - Jed and Vicki - Their blog is Nima Jade - Days before they left to go pick up Nima in August, the US gov't shut down adoptions in Nepal.  Since they were so close to picking her up, they are supposed to still get to adopt Nima BUT they have to prove she is a true orphan (hiring a private investigator).  So Vicki has had to stay in Nepal with Nima for months while Jed is back in the states working.  This has caused great financial strain as you can imagine. 

Ukraine Adoptions - A vote is being taken today to see if Ukraine will become part of the Hague convention.  While this in itself is a good thing - because it will means that Ukraine will have higher adoption standards.  The bad news is that any ongoing adoption that is currently going on, no matter where they are in the process, will stop.  Completely stop.  There are many Reece's Rainbow families that adopt in Ukraine, some are so close to bringing these children home.  Please Pray that the Ukraine government will allow these adoptions to continue.  Some of these children live in horrible living conditions and some have major medical needs.  These families need your prayers!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Adoption Timeline - Current

·         Sept. 3rd, 2010 – Initial interview with a homestudy agency to see if we are a good fit.  We are and have been very impressed with the agency and our social workers. 

·         Sept 16th, 2010 – Fingerprints and background check started.  Supposed to take 6-8 weeks. 

·         Sept. 23rd, 2010 – Required Psychological evaluations to determine eligibility for adoption and stable family/marriage.  We passed!!  

·         Sept. 27th, 2010 – Homestudy Interview – this marathon meeting took 5+ hours but we passed with flying colors!!!!  HUGE PRAISE AND THANKS TO GOD!!!

·         Sept. 30th, 2010 – Our oldest son has surgery on his left kidney to fix an UPJ obstruction.  He had a unique case and was in surgery quite a bit longer than expected. 

·         Oct. 1st, 2010 – Bring oldest son home from the hospital.

·         Oct 2nd-Oct 6th, 2010 – Take oldest son back to the hospital and he stays for 4 more nights because of vomiting and high blood pressure.
·         Oct 5th, 2010 – We receive an email at the hospital that ‘our little guy’ or ‘Allen’, (Allen is the alias that Reece’s Rainbow gave him), had corrective heart surgery 2 weeks earlier and is already back at the baby orphanage and is doing very well.  He is supposed to be transferred to an institution from the baby orphanage, due to his age, but the Director will keep him at the baby orphanage because we started the adoption process.  WOW!!
·         Oct/Nov 2010 – Working on the Application Registration documents.  Waiting, Waiting, Waiting for our background checks to clear.
·         Nov. 24th, 2010 – Background Check Clearances finally arrive 12 weeks later!!!!  Happy Thanksgiving!!!!
·         Dec.  1st, 2010 – Homestudy Finalized!!!! 
·         December 2010 – Finalized Homestudy sent to both DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) and to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for approval.   This can take 6-8 weeks for approval.  So we here we are again……Waiting, Waiting, Waiting!!  We are thankful for the holidays because time is passing quickly. 

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Adoption Timeline, The Beginning

·    Mid 2009 – Discover Reece's Rainbow website and learn the fate of special needs orphans.    Conviction and desire to do something to help grows.  Much discussion as to what we, personally, are supposed to do.           Through 1 John 3:17-18 God speaks to us.   
·    November 2009 – Wendy is very due with 5th child in December.  Todd says he thinks we can start ‘looking into’ special needs adoption.  Wendy takes that as a YES!! JJJ
·    January 2010 – We start sharing with family and friends our desire to adopt in the future, probably a couple of years down the road.  We didn’t want anyone to be surprised…..because well……..they probably would be.  
·    July 20th, 2010 – The Reece’s Rainbow Child of the Week is ‘Allen”.  Wendy says, “Oh!  He is soooo precious! Someone needs to adopt that sweet boy!  He CANNOT be sent to one of those horrible mental institutions. ”  
·    At this point, adoption is a couple of years off in our heads.  We are trying to figure out if we add onto our house or move.  We love our current house and location, but there is next to no storage and our play areas are small.  Seeking God’s will and direction.  
·    August 2010 – ‘Allen’ tugs at our hearts.  Is he the one?!?!  So soon??
·    August 12th, 2010 – We inquire about ‘Allen’ to find out additional information. 
·    August 14th, 2010 – Receive additional pictures of him.  He’s so sweet.  Trying not to fall in love with him……but we are!!
·    August 16th, 2010 – We get an email about a house not on the market yet that looks like a great fit for us.  Woods and room to grow…….
·    August 23rd, 2010 – Receive medical records on ‘Allen’.  We now know personal information about this sweet boy.  Birth weight and height.  He has a congenital heart defect and will need to have surgery.  He was given up at 1 month and 16 days.  He is to be transferred very soon to an institution. 
·    August 24th, 2010 – Walk through house.  Looks REALLY GOOD!!  Seems like it would work for us.  It is more than what we wanted to spend.  How much more??  Yep, almost exactly the amount that we estimated that the adoption would cost!! 
·    August 25th, 2010 – Looking seriously at houses.  Looking seriously at our finances.  Looking seriously at adoption.  Looking seriously at our finances again.  Determine we can do one or the other – it’s either a house or an adoption.  NOT BOTH.  
·    August 26th, 2010 – We feel strongly that God would have us choose a child over a material good.  So we choose LIFE for this precious boy, our son!  We are at PEACE.   We tell our dear realtor our decision that now is not the time for us to buy a house.  She is wonderful about it and even encourages us to adopt!!  Amazing!!
·    Sept 2nd, 2010 – Wendy’s 35th birthday – We tell our families that we are officially starting the adoption process and introduce them to our son ‘Allen’!!!!! 
·    Sept 3rd, 2010 – We are matched to ‘Allen’.  He is taken off the waiting child list!

Monday, December 13, 2010

OTHER PEOPLE

I truly believe that the hardest part of raising a child with Down Syndrome is going to be OTHER PEOPLE.  I can already feel my 'mama bear' instinct coming out to protect and defend our little guy. Thankfully our families are wonderfully kind and compassionate.  But I do wonder how I will react when I am in a situation where I will have to stand up and speak out.  Oh, don't worry!! I WILL speak up and out!  But will I do it with love and grace??!! This video below is about a family with a son with Down Syndrome and how they have had to deal with OTHER PEOPLE. 


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Next Steps in the Process

Now that our homestudy is completed it has to be sent to DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services) and to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) for approval.  In our state, DCFS has to approve us to be a foster family in order to adopt.  Most states do not require this step but I am finding out that our state is one of the most difficult to adopt through!!  Yikes!!  Anyways, our homestudy agency sends our homestudy to DCFS and to USCIS and we send off a document called the I-600A to USCIS to start the process.

Today we sent out the I-600A!! WOO!HOO!!!

So now what...............???  Well we wait and wait and wait for our approvals from both DCFS and USCIS. I believe I heard that these can take up to 6-8 weeks again.  So I am figuring at least 10-12 weeks to be safe!!


In the meantime I am finishing up the first 1/3 of our dossier - called the Registration Application.  Soon, I need to head to the state capitol to get it apostilled.  I am actually done with it EXCEPT for the crazy pictures of my house.  This is driving me crazy!  I keep ordering them from Walmart or Shutterfly and they keep turning out so dark.  I had Walmart lighten them and they lightened them too much!  Todd came back with the 3rd order (maybe 4th?) of them tonight after we tried to correct the coloring on the website and guess what..............too dark!  UGG!!  I just want to be done with them.  When I print them off my computer at home, just on plain paper, they look great!!  So why is this so difficult???  Anybody have any ideas???      
    

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One Last Christmas

Last Christmas, my 3 oldest children and I followed the story of Dax Locke, a sweetheart of a little boy, who had cancer.  We would drive by houses that had their Christmas Lights lit for the 'Decorate for Dax'. My kids asked for daily updates on how Dax was doing and we prayed that he would make it to Christmas.  I prayed for the dear mommy and daddy as their hearts were breaking into a million different pieces. 

Matthew West, a major Christian singer/songer heard the story also and wrote this song.  Grab a Kleenex.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Background Checks

Tuesday night I really started to have some anxiety over the whole timing issue for our adoption.  For Reece's Rainbow you are supposed to have your homestudy done in about 12 weeks.  If you aren't they can 'uncommit' you from the child you are trying to adopt and put them back in to the waiting children list and somebody else can commit to them.   It's really in the best interest of the child - I understand and support that.  BUT our homestudy cannot be completed without the background check clearances.  They were supposed to take 6-8 weeks.  So, no problem, right?!  Unwittingly, we didn't submit our fingerprints until 2 weeks after we committed to our little guy (didn't know any better!). 

So we've been waiting and waiting.  Tuesday night I started counting weeks and started realizing that we are pretty close to the 12 week mark for RR (10 weeks for the background checks).  I woke up at 2:45am and couldn't go back to sleep.  I just had a horrible pit in my stomach.  About 3:30am, I finally decided to go work on my picture list and pictures of the inside and outside of our house for our dossier.  I've been quite perfectionistic about it - it drives Todd nuts:).  I worked until 5am (ish) and finally went back to bed.  Got it as perfect as humanly possible (smile)! 

Then yesterday, I wrote my very kind social worker an 'I'm freaking out about this email'!   

She wrote back that OUR BACKGROUND CHECK CLEARANCES HAVE ARRIVED!!!!!! YAY!!!!!! 

A HUGE sigh of relief for me and a prayer of THANKS to God!!  It took 10 1/2 weeks!  So next week we should be able to get our homestudy finalized or close to it!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The *R* Word

Do you say it?  I know I slip up and say it sometimes.  I am trying to eradicate from my vocabulary.  I am laughing because I know some of you out there have noooooo idea what I talking about. 

Watch the video and you will know soon enough.  There is a great blog post, Click Here, about the *R* word from a mom who is currently adopting 2 children from Eastern Europe (it's where I got the video from:)). 

Monday, November 22, 2010

KING of Kings!

and LORD of Lords!!
I would love to do something like this.  I love to sing, especially, in a large group.  It takes me back to high school.  Ah!! Chorus, Band, Spring Plays, Madrigals - what great memories!  I truly did love high school.  Many of the songs we learned have stayed with me (much like learning Bible verses when you are a kid, I think).  The two that stand out though are singing The Messiah and Les Miserables.  Love it!  Hearing all the voices en masse together singing to the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords is so very beautiful.  It makes me clear teary-eyed.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Empty Bed

Well, we set up our little guy's bed.  For our dossier, I had to take pictures of the inside and outside of our house.  I asked our placement agency if I should take pictures of the room 'as is' or if I should have the bed set up.  They recommended that I set up the bed - so we did!  We had everything on hand......a toddler bed in the crawl space, toddler bedding that I had pre-bought for my youngest bio boys not knowing I would be using it so soon.  So now we have an adorable empty bed waiting for our dear little son tonight.  I consider it such a privilege to adopt him. 

Oh my - I am ready to bring him home! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Make A Difference - Part 2


Last year about this time, Todd and I gathered the 3 oldest kids and asked them to bring all their Jesus money to the table.  We then went through the World Vision Gift Catalog and discussed what gift they could give to another family.  We ended up deciding on a goat and 2 chickens.  It was so neat for my kids to be involved in giving a meaningful gift. 

In the words of Max Lucado:
“The amount of money that I spend on fast food in a week can literally change a person’s life.  Look into the faces of these beautiful children, this wonderful family.  They deserve everything that we have, they deserve to thrive physically, emotionally and spiritually. 
Some people make the mistake and they think, “Since I can’t fix everything, I won’t do anything.” 
But everyone can do something………and when all of us do something.  Something wonderful will happen.”

Video:  Max Lucado in Ethiopia

Remember there are so many children who won't be receiving a gift this year.  Consider giving a gift through World Vision or sponsoring a child. 
If you want to sponsor a child through AC Child Sponsorship Click Here.  Have a Great Day!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Make A Difference This Year

Something near and dear to my heart are child sponsorship programs.  In the past, I had never ever given them serious thought until I became personally involved in my church's own child sponsorship program.  What I found has touched my heart deeply and changed my view of these 'brush off' programs dramatically.  You see.......these programs are an amazing resource for the church (you and me) to help the orphan and vulnerable children break the powerful cycle of poverty.  Indeed, through these programs you and I can help give these children 'a hope and a future' through knowing Jesus Christ! This video is the testimony of a once-sponsored child.  I am going to beg you to watch the video.....I think you will understand why when you are done watching it. 

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO........

If you do not sponsor a child yet, please consider doing this.  You can make an amazing difference in a child's life.  And if you do sponsor a child, there is no rule that you have to sponsor just one.  In fact, if you have the means, you can even sponsor entire schools.

If you want to sponsor a child through AC Child Sponsorship Click Here.  AC Child Sponsorship sponsors children in Haiti, Jamaica, Guatemala, Mexico and are just starting to sponsor children in Zambia, Africa! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

How Might God Think?

"Our compassion for others seems to be directly correlated to whether people are close to us socially, emotionally, culturally, ethnically, economically, and geographically.  But why do we distinguish the value of one human life from another?  Why is it so easy to shut out the cries of these dying foreign children from our ears?...


...How might God think about this issue?  Does He look at the suffering of a child in Cambodia or Malawi with a certain sense of emotional distance?  Does God have different levels of compassion for children based on their geographic location, their nationality, their race - or their parents' income level?  Does He forget about their pain because He is preoccupied with other things? Does He turn the offending page to read the sports section--or is His heart broken because each child is precious to Him? 

God surely grieves and weeps,
because every one of these children is HIS child--
not somebody else's.   

Written by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision in The Hole in Our Gospel

Garrett (China)

Garrett, Boy, Born October 29, 2005
China 

From a missionary who visited with him in August 2010:
  “  Garrett was found abandoned at the age of 9 months.  He is medically healthy but very small for his age.  He lives in a VERY poor orphanage that is rife with neglect and lack of resources to properly care for the children with special needs living here.  They are in dire need of humanitarian support. Those who are bedridden especially suffer here, and urgently need adoptive families.  We are desperately seeking a family to give Garrett the live he deserves! ”   
More photos available, along with full social history and medical records 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

We were told that it take 6-8 weeks to get our background checks cleared.  Well.........this is WEEK 8. It is significant because our homestudy report cannot be finalized until they receive the background checks.  We need this done so we can move onto the next hoops of our adoption process. 

Will you please pray with us that our backgrounds checks could be cleared and that our homestudy could be finalized?? 

Monday, November 8, 2010

A $20 Bill

I was doing laundry last week and I found a rolled up $20 bill on the floor.  I asked my son if it was his.  He said, "Oh! I forgot this was in my pocket!  This was from Timothy (his good friend) Mom.......to help pay for our adoption.  So here - it's for you and dad so you don't have to pay so much." Remember this post..... Click here.

This touched my heart so much.  Thank you Timothy!  We are putting the $20 towards our the adoption of 'Our Little Guy'.


Did you know that the biggest reason that people don't adopt is because of how much it costs?  It is very costly.  Most international adoptions cost an average of $25,000 to $35,000 - not exactly pocket change is it?!  By the way, I am not asking for money for us personally.  I just know it is a struggle for those who do adopt.  It is a sacrifice.  Please consider giving to someone who is adopting or an organization like Lifesong For Orphans that can help give an adopting family grants or loans, I encourage you to do it because.......... 

"We can't change the whole world,
but we can change the world for one child”

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Sad Reality


This was posted by Julia who has recently brought home her newly adopted son Aaron.  Aaron had aged out of a baby home and was tranferred into an institution in Eastern Europe.  You can read more of Aaron and the Lost Boys' story at http://covenantbuilders.blogspot.com/.


***Please pray for our little guy that he won't be transferred.***


The Sad Reality
Many of you have seen this picture. It was taken back in 2006 at a special needs institute in Eastern Europe. It's a shocking picture that appears to speak of abuse and neglect. Soon after we committed to Aaron, I saw it on the internet. It stopped my heart. I could hardly look at it. It horrified me, because I knew that Aaron had been transferred to a special needs institute just like these poor boys. At that time, I had little idea what that meant. My one consolation was that the picture wasn't taken in Aaron's country.


Our first days at Aaron's institute were overwhelming-- the chaos and craziness, the unnerving sights, sounds and smells. We could hardly take it all in. We wanted to run and hide, play with Aaron separately in some safe corner away from all of the disquiet. But Aaron delighted in his new-found freedom, and he wanted to roam the grounds. Although he had lived at his institute for an entire year, he had seen only a small part of it. So he set out to explore, with the three of us in tow. It made us uncomfortable.  We weren't sure the staff wanted us spying out their secrets, and we were embarrassed by some of the things we saw. So we tried to contain Aaron, keep him in our assigned gazebo up by the gate.  But Aaron's legs could not be contained, and we had no parental authority with him as yet, so we walked.

His favorite new route took us past the shed where the lowest-functioning boys spent their summer days. They had absolutely nothing to do but wait for the next snack or mealtime. They all sat on their groundcloths, staring, moaning, crying.  At first, we could hardly bear to look.

Around the corner was a large building which, we were told, used to house Aaron's group.  It was crumbling, but the caretakers still used parts of it. On the far end was a shed for the institute's tractor and wagon. The near end contained what we thought were broken-down bathroom stalls with rows of potty chairs. Because it was doorless and dilapidated, we assumed that it was being used for storage. For several days, as we walked that way so that Aaron could see the tractor, we walked right by that shed full of boys and right by those filthy bathroom stalls with their rows of potty chairs without ever connecting the two. We thought we were seeing a junk pile. Our minds couldn't grasp what we were seeing. 

Aaron also wanted us to see his friends from his group, the highest group. He wanted us to see his world, and he wanted his friends to see and share his new toys. We tried to stop him, but in the end we always went along. Because of Aaron's persistence, we were forced to face the uncomfortable sights, sounds and smells of his world all through those first weeks. The caretakers were uncomfortable with our presence, embarrassed by what we might see, but they didn't stop us.

Once again, much of what we saw didn't register. It was too chaotic to grasp at first glance. So the first time we rounded the corner and found Aaron's group all sitting on little chairs around the grounds, we didn't immediately understand. Our minds could only absorb it in small pieces. It took us a while to realize that we were seeing "The Picture," the one at the top of this post, in real life. It was a sad reality, shocking because we knew that our boy had lived this way for a year, but also softened because we knew the hearts of the caretakers.

I've prayed and considered how best to tell this part of our story.  I don't want to sensationalize our experience, and I don't want to horrify anyone.  I am not interested in raising an uproar, even if I could. I only want people to know about the plight of the children who aren't adopted from the baby houses and end up being transferred.

When you first see this picture you probably think, as I did, that it speaks of abuse and neglect. And so it may, in the place where it was taken. But neglect is not necessarily the norm in all such institutes. We have to understand that these Eastern European mental institutes are simply poor, extremely poor. These countries are poor, and most of their citizens are poor. We were told that a college-educated teacher might expect to make only about $3000 US per year. It is not surprising that in such impoverished countries, the poorest citizens-- orphans committed to mental institutions-- have to endure conditions that most of us find shocking. These institutions depend entirely upon money allotted to them by the government, and they're not high on the budget priority list. They rarely receive private donations-- those go to the baby houses-- and the church seems to be most interested in putting shiny brass roofs on all of its neglected buildings.

At Aaron's institute, the staff works hard to make ends meet. They feed the boys as well as they can, and although none of them are emaciated (unlike the picture), they do not have an overabundance of food.  It is just enough. The staff is small, too small.  The caretakers are overworked and grossly underpaid in their thankless, highly depressing jobs. Their caretaking chores include all of the cleaning and laundry for over 100 boys. They are also commissioned to weed the flower beds and sweep the sidewalks and yards. Many of the buildings don't have indoor plumbing, and even if they do, they are not equipped to handle large volumes. 

Thus, the potty chairs. It is a very sad reality.  The only way so few caretakers can manage the daily bodily functions of so many boys is to sit them all down on their potty chairs at the same time, several times each day. When you see cute little toddlers sitting on the potty, you get one picture; but walking in on about 20 older boys, all sitting undressed on tiny potty chairs, is a whole different image. It's an image I will never forget. In this case it speaks not of abuse, but of poverty. It speaks not of neglect, but of desperation. The exhausted caretakers at Aaron's institute love their boys, but need forces them to treat them like products on an assembly line. As time passed and we learned to know and love the individual boys, the indignity of their situation saddened us all the more.

Why do I share this?  Because I have a duty to speak out for the helpless and the voiceless. We need to pray. We need to pray that God will inspire his church, in both that country and our own, to get its hands dirty, go into these forgotten institutes and minister to the Lost Boys and Girls.  They need so much.  Their caretakers are weary and overburdened.

At Aaron's institute, we have to send a powerful message that these boys are wanted. Aaron's adoption is not enough. Brady and Heath also desperately need families so that the authorities can see that there is hope for all the rest of the Lost Boys. They cannot be forgotten. I pray that God will show us how to open up Aaron's institute so that the church can go marching inside. I desire with all my heart to see His light and His love offered to those precious boys and their weary caretakers.

I have more images to share from our time there, but those are for other times and other posts. 

For now, we ask you to pray, please. Please help us advocate for Brady and Heath. I am well aware that the Reece's Rainbow's Angel Tree is in full swing. We are praying for Gavin.  My heart longs to see those baby house children snatched up before they are transferred to the places of no return.  Each time one is transferred now I want to scream, because I know better than ever what "transfer" means. So I'm screaming for the Angel Tree now, because the babies need families now, before transfer. But we must not forget Heath and Brady during the coming season. I've shouted it out already: their time is short. Their institute's director is weary and skeptical, and she may close the door on them at any time. They need families.  Please join me in praying and advocating for them.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voice for the Voiceless

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves……defend the rights of the needy.

Proverbs 31 8,9

Sunday, November 7th is Orphan Sunday.  

The Destitute have no voice.  No one to stand in the gap for them. God has called the Christians to assist the widows and the orphan. We need to be the voice for them. 

External religious worship [ religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.
James 1:27 Amplified

Some are called to Adopt.  Some are called to Advocate.  Some are called to Assist.

We are ALL called to something.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Things

Some happy things today!  Todd's cousin April has finally received their court date (NEXT WEEK!) and will finally get to see their 2 babies from Ethiopia!!  So exciting!  Check out their blog here!  Congratulations April and Brian, we are so very excited for you and will be praying for you!!

The next happy thing is something that just warms my heart.  This special group of high school girls decided to do something to help 'one of the least of these'.  Love it!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Adoption?

As I have pondered my own responsibility to the widowed, orphaned, poor and outcast, I have been shaken to my core a couple of times.  When I have heard the stories of mothers in Africa giving up their children for adoption because they know they cannot feed their babies and they will starve to death.  I cannot help but ask,"Why not me, Lord?".  I cannot fathom giving up my children.  In fact, it makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it. 

Or mothers who have to prostitute themselves out at night because they are so desperate for food for their children and in the process contracting HIV/AIDS.  Read the story here.  "Why not me, Lord?"  WHY? Why have You given me so much?


Or when I am rocking my babies and they finally fall asleep - completely content with a warm full tummy, how can I ignore the millions who are crying themselves to sleep tonight.  Cold and hungry....no starving. How can I ignore this? 



Again comes the why? Why Lord have you blessed me to overflowing? These verses almost haunt me.  Maybe 'convict me' is a better word choice.

.....For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required...Luke 12:48
 
and


 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  1 John 3:16-18
I think somewhere in the midst of having my eyes opened to the great sorrow and pain of others, and knowing that someday God is going to look at my life and ask me how I cared for His least. He is going to look at MY LIFE - my blessed, full, spoiled, rich life.  How can I ignore this?  I can't.  I can't look the other way anymore.  This is where my personal call of adoption began. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sweet and Sour

The Sweet

My youngest daughter ( she's 5 yrs. old) says funny things.  All the time.  She isn't trying either.  I am not sure if it has to do with that fact that she was in speech therapy for a while or what.  That and the fact that she tells you exactly what she is thinking.  As my husband says, there is noooo filter. So this combination is hilarious. 

Here are some examples of some words that she has come up with all on her own:

glassable - an item that is breakable

woodable - an item that is not breakable and usually made of wood, of course

a foreache - when your headache hurts in your forehead

that ring dong fing - a doorbell, of course

A great example of the no filter...........

Todd was feeding the baby a bottle early on a Saturday morning. S wanted Todd to read her a book. She found a book and climbed on the chair with Todd as he fed the baby. I decided to video tape them as they were having a special 'bonding' moment together. It was really sweet.  So I start video taping and S in timing so perfect you could never have planned it on purpose says,
 "Dad, your breath is sooooooo gross!" 

The Sour

I love my kids!!  I can't wait to bring our little guy home and integrate him into our family.  I look forward to it so much.  My big worry is that they will transfer him to the older orphanage before we can get there to him and we would not be able to adopt him.  Will you please pray for me/us?  Please pray for peaceful patient hearts.  I know God is in control in my head but my heart still worries over how this is all going to work out. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

INCREDIBLE

The first video sets up this incredible story of a father's love for his son so you need to watch it.  BUT the second video is just so beautiful........please don't miss it.     







The Early Years
Rick was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick's brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a "normal" life. This was just the beginning of Dick and Judy's quest for Rick's inclusion in community, sports, education and one day, the workplace.

Dick and Judy soon realized that though Rick couldn't walk or speak; he was quite astute and his eyes would follow them around the room. They fought to integrate Rick into the public school system, pushing administrators to see beyond Rick's physical limitations. Dick and Judy would take Rick sledding and swimming, and even taught him the alphabet and basic words, like any other child. After providing concrete evidence of Rick's intellect and ability to learn like everyone else, Dick and Judy needed to find a way to help Rick communicate for himself.

With $5,000 in 1972 and a skilled group of engineers at Tufts University, an interactive computer was built for Rick. This computer consisted of a cursor being used to highlight every letter of the alphabet. Once the letter Rick wanted was highlighted, he was able to select it by just a simple tap with his head against a head piece attached to his wheelchair. When the computer was originally first brought home, Rick surprised everyone with his first words. Instead of saying, "Hi, Mom," or "Hi, Dad," Rick's first "spoken" words were: "Go, Bruins!" The Boston Bruins were in the Stanley Cup finals that season. It was clear from that moment on, that Rick loved sports and followed the game just like anyone else.

In 1975, at the age of 13, Rick was finally admitted into public school. After high school, Rick attended Boston University, and he graduated with a degree in Special Education in 1993. Dick retired in 1995 as a Lt. Colonel from the Air National Guard, after serving his country for 37 years.
The Beginning of Team Hoyt
In the spring of 1977, Rick told his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Far from being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair and they finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. That night, Rick told his father, "Dad, when I'm running, it feels like I'm not handicapped."




This realization was just the beginning of what would become over 1,000 races completed, including marathons, duathlons and triathlons (6 of them being Ironman competitions). Also adding to their list of achievements, Dick and Rick biked and ran across the U.S. in 1992, completing a full 3,735 miles in 45 days.

 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Every Single One

The other night when I opened my Bible to do my devotions, my Bible fell open to a prologue to the chapter. 
The commentary read,
"Every birth is a miracle, and every child is a gift from God."

I believe that.  EVERY child is a gift from God.  Every single one.

The rich ones and the poor ones,
The perfect ones and the imperfect ones,
The healthy ones and the sick ones.

God knit each one in their mother's womb.  Every single one.  Every single one has worth and value in Our Father's eyes.

.   

We humans have the tendency to think a mistake has been made.  Even the disciples did this......

Remember this passage:

 1And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.
 2And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
 3Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest (displayed and illustrated) in him. (John 9:1-3, King James Version)

I LOVE THAT!  God has a specific purpose - a divine plan for those we view as less than perfect!!!

Every single one.  These sweet children need a family.....desperately.  You can help whether it be through adoption, donating funds (so that financially strapped families could adopt), and your prayers.  These children need to hear about Jesus too!  Let's be the hands and feet of Christ to others today. 

Because they are all precious in His Sight...Every Single One 
Anna
HIV+



Silas
Cerebral Palsy

 
Trina
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome 

Garrett
Down Syndrome

 
To find out more information about any of these children, click Reece's Rainbow.


 



















Monday, October 11, 2010

The Promise

I thought I would share a fascinating look into what a Baby Home or Baby Orphanage looks like in Eastern Europe.  A Baby Home is typically for orphans ages 0-4 years old.  Sometime after a child turns 4 years old, they are transferred into an orphanage for older children or to a mental institution.  Our little guy is probably in a similiar facility right now.  We ask that you would continue to pray that our paperwork would get approved quickly.  They are 'holding' him for us at the orphanage but we know he will turn 5 in the coming months.  We need to get there as soon as possible.  The thought of him being transferred......well I just can't go there right now.  If the video below gives you problems, here is the link to view The Promise.


video


Thursday, October 7, 2010

When Life Gives You Lemons.......


My husband went down to tuck our oldest son into bed tonight and he had been reading in his brand new devotional about if life gives you a lemon to make lemonade. As they discussed his recent kidney surgery and how that was a “lemon” they discussed how he could view surgery and the 5 day hospital stay as “lemonade”.  Our son discussed how well the hospital staff took care of him and helped to make him better. And I know that he has learned about how much his family and friends care for him. 
We recently found out that our little guy in Eastern Europe just came through heart surgery (2 weeks ago) over there and my husband asked my son if that helps us to better understand what our little guy went through - especially since he didn’t have Dad or Mom there with him. He replied, “but he will soon!”
Now you who know my oldest will really appreciate this next comment............He went on to say “When I’m President, well.......I should write to the President. We should build a building in Washington that kids with disabilities could live at. Families then could adopt them and not have to pay a lot of money. It would be difficult, but I think that America is up for the challenge. I think that the President should also pass a law that everyone has to donate $20 to help with adoption.”