Seeds of Change

Alrighty, so today I was going to tackle the not so much fun, but very necessary, topic of fundraising.  But… I ended up writing this post instead.  I guess I will go with it, this is so important and fundraising Q&A can always wait…

We are not fundraising so that we can have a child.  If all we wanted was a child for ourselves, there is no way I would ask complete strangers (or even friends and family) to put their money into a dream that was ours.  We would save the money and do it when we had it.  But that is not what this adoption is about.  We are not doing this for ourselves (although it is very exciting for us too!)  So what is this adoption about?

Let’s talk about Juri’s case specifically.  What will his future look like?  It’s hard to say as many of those decisions haven’t been made yet, but there are two possibilities I am aware of.  The first is a mental institution.  If he does not learn how to walk on his own (he might not without braces and regular therapy), he will likely be sent to a mental institution to live out the rest of his life.  He is perfectly cognitively healthy, but because he cannot walk, there is no place for him in his society.

The other possibility is that he will be released to live on his own.  In this case he would be given government housing (or apartments that should be condemned and are infested with all kinds of ugly things), a small stipend to live on and the clothes on his back.  No family, no connections, nothing to help him navigate a world he has never seen or interacted with, a world that has no handicap accessible mindset and no need for a disabled orphan.  With a very small chance of finding any kind of work, poverty and homelessness will almost certainly be his lot, and he would be in the minority if nothing worse happened to him.

Now do you see it?  Do you see why we are so intent on rescuing this boy from the terrible cycle he’s been caught in?  Why this is so much more than just adding to our family tree?  These children, all of them, need out.  Their home countries do not understand their worth, and so they are hidden away on the fringes of society, in institutions where no one has to look at them or interact with them.

It’s easy to judge, but our country has a similar problem.  With an abortion rate of 90% for children who are prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome and routine screening for the express purpose of “terminating” undesirable traits in our children, our mindset is much the same.  We all need to realign our sense of human worth with the One who created us.  And what better way to do this, what better way to show the orphanage workers and government workers that these children’s lives are valuable than to walk into their very court rooms and say “I love this child, whether he can walk, talk, play, work, love… or whether he can do none of these things on his own.  I love him and I see his worth; I have chosen him to be my son.”

What better way to plant the seeds of change when the judge asks you “Don’t you want a healthier child?” than to say “No.  I want this one, with all his sickness and brokenness. I want to give him love, and a family and healing and life.  I don’t care what it costs.  He is more than worth it.”  What better way to show the underpaid orphanage worker the priceless gift in her work than to go visit your bedridden child who smells of filth and vomit, who hasn’t been changed or bathed, who cannot make eye contact or give anything in return… and you hold them close, kiss them, wash them, comfort them and breathe in everything that they are.

Change must come from the inside.  But, how can change come if the seeds are not first planted?  We have been given the gift, the great privilege, of sowing the seeds of mercy and compassion, equality and love in a faraway country, a place that needs those things so desperately.

And what of America?  This land of life and liberty, unless of course you are found to be worth less than your peers.  In which case you are in grave danger of being dismembered in your mother’s womb.  And if you beat the odds and live to be born, you face ostracism, discrimination, cruelty and a culture that, for all its white-washing and attempts to clean the outside of the bowl, harbors a dirty scowl on the inside for people who are different, who cannot contribute to society in the way we think they should, people who inconvenience us or make us uncomfortable.

What better way to show our friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances the worth of these children than to walk into their very homes, schools, churches and playgrounds and to say “I love this child, whether he can walk, talk, play, work, love… or whether he can do none of these things on his own.  I love him and I see his worth; I have chosen him to be my son.”

What better way to plant the seeds of change than when that well-meaning relative asks you “Don’t you want a healthier child?” than to say “No.  I want this one, with all his sickness and brokenness. I want to give him love, and a family and healing and life.  I don’t care what it costs.  He is more than worth it.”  What better way to show your newlywed or empty-nesting friends who are so focused on vacations and retirement and enjoying each other that there is more to life than self indulging, than to take your child who will need lifelong care and to hold them close, kiss them, wash them, comfort them and breathe in everything that they are.

Seeds of ChangeChange must come from the inside.  But, how can change come if the seeds are not first planted?  We have been given the gift, the great privilege, of sowing the seeds of mercy and compassion, equality and love in America, in this place that needs those things so desperately.

And this brings me to my last, and most crucial point, which is at the very heart of what we are doing.  For all the seeds that we are planting, the greatest blessing of all is how this adoption reflects to me and my family an even greater reality and truth.  For, what better way does God have to show us our own worth than to say to the world, “I love this child, whether he can walk, talk, play, work, love… or whether he can do none of these things on his own.  I love him and I see his worth; I have chosen him to be my son.”

Was it not our own Heavenly Father who took on the task of our adoption, knowing the great price and disregarding it for the worth that He saw in our redemption?  Was it not Christ who, when Satan attempted to deter Him by offering Him everything but the salvation of our souls He said,  “No.  I want this one, with all his sickness and brokenness. I want to give him love, and a family and healing and life.  I don’t care what it costs.  He is more than worth it.”   It is in this way that God has shown His love for us, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.  While we are yet filthy, sick, disabled, orphaned and worthless… He comes to us and holds us close, kisses us, washes us, comforts us and breathes in everything that we are.  He gives us worth.  He makes us lovely.  He restores us to health.

Change must come from the inside.  But, how can change come if the seeds are not first planted?  Christ has given our family the gift, the great privilege, of experiencing His mercy and compassion, equality and love in our hearts, in these places that need those things so desperately.  Adoption is a reflection of this and so much more.  We are adopting to plant seeds.  To plant seeds in Juri’s heart, seeds that he is worthy and lovely, wanted and loved.  We are adopting to plant seeds in Eastern Europe, seeds of hope.  We are adopting to plant seeds in America, seeds of selfless giving and true fulfillment.  We are adopting to remind us of the seed sown in our own hearts, the seeds of love that Christ planted there long ago.

Adoption Q&A

Hey everyone!  Wow!  Thank you SO much for the overwhelming flood of support and love we received yesterday after announcing our adoption!  We really cannot be more thrilled to bring this boy into our family and sharing our joy with you has been a much needed blessing!  We have only just started the process, but we are already knee deep in paperwork and weary!  With all the transition this summer, adding an adoption to the mix is quite a lot to bite off, but we want to get to our boy as soon as possible, so here we are!  We got some great questions yesterday about our sweet boy and the adoption, so I put together a little Q&A for you!

Juri in the Ball Pit

 

Where is Juri?

Juri is in Eastern Europe.  We cannot reveal his country of residence in order to protect his privacy.

Is Juri his real name?

No.  Juri is an alias that was used to advocate for him.  It is the name that his many fans know him by, so we will be using it for now until the adoption is completed.  We cannot reveal his birth name to protect his privacy.  If you are wondering how Juri is pronounced, we say it “Yur-ee”.

How old is Juri?  

He will be turning six in November!

How did you find him?  

As most of you know, I have been advocating with an organization called Reece’s Rainbow for quite some time.  He was listed on their website, and he really stood out to Jake, so we prayed about it and God opened the doors for us to pursue his adoption.  Reece’s Rainbow has also set up a Family Sponsorship Page for our adoption.  You can see that here: Juri for the Mueller Family 

Does he have any special needs?  

Yes.  Juri has mild Cerebral Palsy.  It affects only his legs, and makes it very difficult for him to walk.  The last update we have on him is that he does not have much motion in his legs at all and that he is learning how to walk with a walker.  We are hopeful that with braces and regular therapy he will eventually be able to walk on his own!  Also, because he is an older child who has spent his entire life in an orphanage, there will be some delays and emotional trauma associated with that.  We feel very privileged to have the opportunity to walk him through these challenges and help him reach his full potential.

Do you have more pictures?

Yes!  We have LOTS of pictures AND a video!  But I am not going to give them to you all right away.  We have to make them last a while before I get new ones, so you will just have to be on the look out for more cuteness!

When will he come home?  

Adoptions from Juri’s country take about 5-8 months from start to finish.  We are praying that he will be home in time for Easter.  We could be travelling as soon as January or as late as March.  It depends on how fast we get all of our paperwork in and how long it takes it all to be processed and approved.

How will adopting an older child affect your younger children?

Of course, we cannot know for certain how adding Juri will affect our family dynamics.  As with any addition to a family, you just don’t know what your new normal will be!  We have done a lot of reading and learning about this specifically, and we believe that Juri will be a  blessing to our whole family, Evangeline and Stephen especially.  I just read a blog post the other day that absolutely sums up my thoughts and what I have witnessed over the years in adoptions like ours.  It’s long but I encourage everyone to take a look; it’s very eye opening!  Read it here: How Adoption Effects Bio Children

How much will it cost?  

Our adoption will cost approximately $25,000.  This includes six weeks of travel, homestudy costs, facilitation fees, medicals, etc.

How will you pay for the adoption?  

That is a great question!  The honest answer is, we don’t know.  The other honest answer is, we trust that God will provide.  If He wants to place Juri in our family, He will get us there one way or the other.  We don’t have the kind of money an international adoption costs.  Even just the (relatively) small upfront costs we have already paid have been a stretch for our family financially.  We definitely have the money to care for him once he is home, but shelling out 25k in a matter of 5 to 8 months?  Very few families I know can do that out of pocket and there are SO many children needing a good home.

So what’s the solution?  Well, we have already been blessed with Juri’s Reece’s Rainbow grant fund.  This is the fund that was held for him before he found a family.  It has almost $2000 in it that we will be able to use toward the costs at the end of our adoption.  We will be as frugal as we possibly can from now until Juri is home so we can put as much of our own money into this process as possible.  But the reality is, we are still looking at $20,000 (give or take) that we need to get him home that we just do not have yet and do not know where it is going to come from.

We will be putting together some fundraisers in the coming months for Juri’s adoption, please stay updated and participate as you can!  We don’t have any put together yet, but donations can be made at any time to our family’s Reece’s Rainbow Grant Fund.  Gifts made to Reece’s Rainbow are tax deductible and 100% of the money will be given to our family to use on adoption expenses when we travel.  Tomorrow I will put together a totally separate Q&A post on fundraising for you all.  So if you have other questions about this very necessary aspect of our adoption, feel free to ask!

Why not adopt out of foster care?

Because our son is not in foster care, he is in Eastern Europe!  To us, every orphan needs a loving family.  Our decision wasn’t about where we wanted to adopt from, it was about who is our son and where is he so we can go get him?  In the last several months we have been doing a lot of praying and, trust me, lots of looking on databases of children waiting for families (from the U.S. and all over the world).  We considered taking blind referrals and every other which way you could imagine going about an adoption.

I can’t explain it other than it has become very evident to us in the last few months that Juri is our son.  God is opening the doors.  So we are going to go get him!  Yes, foster care would be so much cheaper and easier for many reasons, but if we adopted from foster care we would not be able to adopt Juri.  We are not opposed to foster care, in fact, we would love to go that route one day!  But for today we are being called to this little boy half way across the world.  We are not counting the cost, because he is more than worth all of it!

Thank you all for taking this journey with us!  If you want to stay updated you can subscribe to our blog using the handy button on the right hand side (just above “Reader’s Favorites” and just under Stephen’s adorable newborn picture that sorely needs to be updated!)

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