A Bit of a Detour

I hope you all are still enjoying our posts and aren’t sick of them yet!  But just in case I’m taking a bit of a detour today.  After I post this we are going to go have court for Hope and possibly be able to contact her birth parents and we’ll also be heading back to Jacob William’s city so…. very exciting stuff!!  Stay tuned for all of that!  But in the meantime I have two lovely young people I really want to introduce you too.

A dear adoption advocate friend of mine asked me to share them with you and I would be honored.  I have known her for a couple of years now.  She does so much wonderful work fundraising and shouting for orphans and adopting families.  She has donated her time, prayers and love offerings for our own adoption and has been a support for me on some really tough days.

Her labor of love is her Angel Crafts Shop where all of the proceeds go for these sweet children and their families.   She makes such beautiful items that match her beautiful, selfless heart.  I love her!!  Anyway, she has a special place in that heart of hers for these boys and I really wanted to bless them with a little bit of visibility in honor of her.

Jasper

10520770_10152590318843200_47774815_nThe first boy I want to share with you is Jasper.  Jasper was not always an orphan; he was abandoned when he was eight years old.  You can imagine what heartache he must have gone through!  The beauty of this, though, is that for his very formative, young years he was in a family.  He was likely loved and cared for.  He will thrive in another family environment if given the opportunity!

Children who spend their first years in families are able to attach very well.  Not to mention he has many of the self-care basics done. He can walk alone steadily and can eat and use the toilet independently.  He does speak a little, perhaps not clearly, but for probably a lack of therapy that is really great!  I think his speech would boom if given the opportunity.

And his personality sounds just so fun!  They say he is active and extroverted, he likes to be with other people and is good at it.  And he gives special attention to his favorites.  What a dream he would be!  Unfortunately, he is aging out and must find a family in the next six months.  His birthday is in January so he’s running out of time.  Impossible?  Not with God!  I have seen much more unlikely scenarios happen.

We do not know much more about Jasper, but my friend knows his location.  (She is much more familiar with his country than I am).  And she knows that if he is not adopted he will not be in a good situation in his home country.  The chances of him being taken advantage of for his disability are great.

This country is usually about a nine month process, but there are families who’ve done it in two or three months.  It is possible, and there is a special support group for families adopting from here on an expedited timeline.  The point is, yes it’s doable, but there is no time to waste!  His family needs to be found so we can rally and get him home!

If you would like more information about adopting or advocating for Jasper please GO HERE or feel free to contact me with questions.

Jason

10508337_10152590333133200_347771654_nAnd the second little boy I want to introduce to you to today is Jason.  He is described as outgoing and likes to help other kids. A caregiver says sometimes it takes him a little longer than the other children to answer questions. He is in the second grade and has trouble with his homework at times. (So he’s pretty much a normal kid, right?) :)

His caregiver states that he has no vision problems aside from sensitivity to light.  Take that with a grain of salt, but if it’s true that would be a great blessing!  Vision problems are very common for children with his diagnosis, which is albinism.  His favorite people are other boys at the orphanage. Playing badminton makes him happy.  Oh the simple pleasures in life.

When he grows up, he wants to drive cars for a living, perhaps a taxi or bus driver? His caregiver stated he is normally very active and noisy, but he is nervous and shy with strangers.  For those who don’t know, this is a great piece of information!  This shows that he has healthy attachments and a healthy fear of strangers, which bodes very well for how he will do with relationships in a family setting upon coming home!

If not adopted, he will certainly be discriminated against because of his skin color.  Considered cursed, with the added label of orphan, saying his life would be hard is quite the understatement.  How very much he needs a loving family!  Jason has a $4000 grant available through the placing agency, which is a great start to any process!  Here is the link to another blog post from an adoptive mom to children with albinism.  She has some great information about Jason and even a video!

If you would like more information about adopting or advocating for Jason please GO HERE or feel free to contact me with any questions.

If you are not interested or able to donate to, advocate for or adopt these boys that is totally OK!  But you are still not off the hook!  Please, please don’t leave this post without helping out in some way.  Everyone can do something.  God has presented us with the need of two of his beloved children.  Let us use all the resources God has blessed us with to be a blessing to them!  Below I’ve listed some easy ways you can help, pick one and then challenge others to do the same!

1. Pray for Jasper and Jason.  I know we have some amazing prayer warriors following along our journey.  Don’t just content yourself with a single wisp of a prayer and move on with your day.  Commit to praying for them for a week or a month or until their families are found!  Add their future adoptive families to your prayers, that God would nudge their hearts and place these boys in their paths in time for them to make it home.

2. Share these boys!  You can share their story in so many ways!  You can write your own blog post, you can link to this one or you can link to their individual profiles.  Please share them in any productive way you can.  Think outside of the box, send and email instead of just posting on Facebook.  Phone a friend, or even print out their profiles and post on community boards around your home or town.  The more people that see their faces, the more likely their families will see them and they will get to come home.

3. Check out Angel Crafts Shop.  My friend works so hard to raise these boys’ grant funds.  And if you have a sweet little daughter, granddaughter or niece anyway why not buy her some cute things while also helping a great cause?  She does beautiful, handmade work, and has great prices too!  I love everything she puts together!  Bookmark her page so the next time you have a little one’s birthday come up you will remember where to go!  If you’re spending money anyway, put it to good use, right?  Here is that link again: Angel Crafts Shop

I am challenging you to do one or more of the things listed above.  Got it?  Great!  Now please go and challenge one or two of your friends to do the same!  Let’s see what a really awesome domino effect looks like.  Ya’ll are my favorite people ever!  I can’t wait to see God and His Church move on behalf of these wonderful boys!

Opening Doors

IMG_0941Our sweet Hope is so giggly.  The nanny handed her to me today and as soon as she laid eyes on me she squealed in the excited, happy way she does.  I don’t know if she’s ever been that glad to see me so soon!  She is such a joy to be around, and she laughs and smiles more readily than any other child I know.  Other than feeding her, we spend most of our visit just listening to her laugh, and watching her as she smiles her way around the world.  She loves sensations and life and color and people.  What beautiful God-given joy this child radiates.

And yet the time came, as it always does, to take her back to her laying room for another day of nothingness and waiting and longing.  Typically it hasn’t bothered me so much; this life of nothingness is what she is accustomed to, so she will be alright for a couple more weeks of it, right?  But today as I watched her, everything in me just wanted to bring her with us, to a place she belongs, where she can enjoy life every moment instead of just an hour here and there.  And when we got to her room I very much wanted to run the other way.

There are two nannies I know dote on her and take special care of her.  But this was a new nanny today; I always hate giving her back to the nannies who seem indifferent.  Since it wasn’t a “favorite” nanny, I had to hand her back instead of being allowed to put her in her crib.  The door was strangely closed; it’s usually always open.  I handed her back and said my good byes, eliciting a small little glimmer before the nanny turned around.

As I walked away I realized why the door was closed; crying and screaming were coming from one of the tiny babies in her laying room.  My heart broke.  It broke for Hope because I know how much children’s crying upsets her and causes her anxiety.  It broke for the baby because he was obviously in need of something, and the nanny knew that, but instead of comforting or helping him she just closed the door and waited for it to stop.  It broke because I knew there was nothing I could do to take that child or any of the other children in that room out.

Right now that door opens for only one of these children… and that’s our Hope.  She is the only one with a family visiting her, rescuing her, showing her the world behind that cursed door.  I cannot wait to open the rest of the world to her.  And when I think on all these things I am so grateful, because it’s easy to sit here and type the unfolding story of a little girl learning to enjoy life for the first time, but getting here was so much more grievous, complicated and difficult.

I wrote a little in my Q&A Post about how God opened the doors for us to adopt these children, and how His hand was evident every step of the way.  God opened one door after the other, perfectly timed, so that we could be here right now.  I will talk about one particular door that was opened for us to start this process. Hope’s adoption was much more uncertain for much longer, but there will be plenty of time to tell all those stories eventually.

The one in particular I wanted to share, because I was asked (and have been asked this question many times) if our congregation is supportive of what we are doing.  Are they supportive of adoption in general?  Are they supportive of their pastor taking 6 weeks off to go to Eastern Europe?  I have had other pastor’s wives contact me, who are interested in adoption, asking how we managed this, especially since Jake is a first year pastor and just getting to know his people.  All I can say is… God opened the doors.

Whenever I think about our congregation I am so thankful and humbled by the treasure that they are to our family.  I must take a moment to brag on them because without them we wouldn’t be here, and I simply could not think of a better church family to come home to after two long and trying months of travelling overseas for this adoption.  Let me tell you a bit of the story.

Throughout my years of advocacy work I watched many families get burned by unsupportive congregations, not pastor’s families, but just godly, church-going people who desired nothing more than to show Christ’s love to the least of these, to be His hands and feet through adoption.  In some cases churches would not welcome their newly adopted children, or would marginalize them because of their special needs.  Some families would go to their churches for help during their adoptions, a logical place right?  When you are doing the Lord’s work it is His Church who is called to come alongside you!

The typical answer?  “If we help with your adoption then all the members in our congregation will want help with their adoptions.”  People were denied on this and other shallow grounds repeatedly and consistently… If we help you, we’ll have to help other people too.  Even just asking for a space to use for a rummage sale over the weekend, many people were turned away!  How tragic and difficult, that God’s own people do not realize what it is we are here to do.

And so you can imagine my uncertainty as our time at seminary was coming to a close and Jake was preparing to take a call to serve as the pastor of a church.  We had already seen Juri’s picture and had been praying over it, Jake had been given the dream that was a huge confirmation we should move forward but… would it even be possible?  I told a few of my adoption friends about our hopes, but they seemed hesitant to be optimistic knowing our situation and the difficulty with congregations that others had experienced.

As we received our call and began preparing to move I began praying more specifically, “God you know how much I would love to adopt this boy, but if this is Your Will You need to make it happen.  You need to prepare the congregation’s hearts somehow for the idea of international adoption, because for most it’s not even on the radar.  And if they are ready for something like this You have to make it come up somehow in the topic of conversation, because it’s not something we can push on them.”

I felt confident that these things were what we would need in order to move forward.  All the advice was to wait at least a year or two before doing anything so drastic.  (Except for one sweet, adoptive mom and Lutheran pastor’s wife who said “Just wait and see what happens.”  And whose very encouraging story gave me hope that it could even be done!)  I could not move into a church’s parsonage my husband’s first year of ministry and just start advocating for international special-needs adoption right off the bat.  I can have a very decisive personality, which isn’t always a good thing!  We couldn’t make the first move.  We would have to wait.

Fast forward a few weeks and we were moving in to our new home.  Several people from our congregation came to help out.  As we were standing on the front porch of our new home, my mother-in-law and I were introducing ourselves to a lady, who happens to now be a dear friend.  She was pointing out to us their son, saying offhand “He was adopted from Ukraine.”  My mom and I were both surprised (she didn’t know about Juri yet, but she did know of my passion for adoption) and she replied “Well, you two will have a lot to talk about!”  And walked away.

To alleviate the very confused look on my new friend’s face, I began to explain to her about the advocacy work we had done with Reece’s Rainbow and how many of the children I had loved from afar were from that country, etc.  We had a great conversation.  The next day was Sunday and we met two more families  from our congregation who had adopted (one from Guatemala and one domestically).  I talked with the other family more about their adoption, she had gone to the Reece’s Rainbow site and was gushing over how lovely all the children were.

And I just sat there.  Amazed, in wondrous awe of the work that God was doing.  He was opening a door.  A door that no one could have opened but Him.  He continued to work miracles and love into the hearts of our congregation who have been more supportive, loving, understanding and amazing then any Church family I have ever heard of.  What beautiful souls they are.  What a great and marvelous work God has done.  We are blessed beyond words and could not be more thankful.

And then there was… Hope

Long, long ago in a land across the sea, there was a husband and a wife who wanted a family.  God blessed their marriage with a precious baby girl, who they loved and cared for as any mommy and daddy would.  Their little girl grew and was soon to be a big sister!

The baby in mommy’s tummy grew and grew, another little daughter, so loved and wanted by everyone.  Imagine their excitement and joy as their family went from three to four.  How happy they must all have been.  They went to each appointment and made sure all was fine, there were no issues, baby was growing and healthy!

But then something happened that was not supposed to be.  The mommy’s contractions started suddenly, earlier than they should.  There were problems with the labor, mommy and baby were both in danger.  The doctors scheduled an emergency surgery and took the baby, she was alive and breathing but not doing well.

The baby had to stay at the hospital because she was not healthy enough to go home.  The parents heard difficult words, diagnoses and feared the unknown.  Their families lived far away and were not close to help, could they raise their baby girl?  Were there enough resources in their world?

After two months they said they could not, and they gave their sweet daughter away.  She had to stay at the hospital for four months and then to the orphanage she would go.  The mother loved her daughter, and continued to visit her there, but her hurting heart couldn’t bear it.  She herself became very ill and the doctors said “Enough!  You cannot keep going there if you expect to keep your health.”

There were no more visits after that, just many long years of loneliness.  The sweet girl grew little by little in the crib that was the only home she knew.  The nannies at her orphanage loved her dearly, but they had no money to give all that so many children needed.

And yet her cheerful disposition stayed all the while.  Nine long years she laid in a crib, the only home she ever knew.  In it she learned to play with toys, to eat with a spoon, to pull herself up to sit, she learned to comfort her neighbor friends by gently petting.  She bonded with her nannies and loved to hold their hands.  She is fun, and ticklish and likes mostly sweet food (just like any kid!)

She is very tiny for her age, and when she’s overwhelmed she makes unusual sounds and rocks; it’s how she’s learned to soothe herself when no one is around.  But despite some of these quirky things, she’s gained everyone’s love.  She is a favorite and lights up the room with her joy and gentle heart.

Her life could be so much more, but her time is running out.  She has been at the orphanage longer than most and soon she will have to leave.  There simply are no resources for her to stay forever, she would need to go to a much worse place than this.  Her tender spirit would not survive a transfer to the brutality of where she’s headed.  Most children pass away once there.

There is no future for this beauty in her current world.  But this is not the end of her story, not nearly, not at all!  God is writing a beautiful story that we hope to share with you all…..

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Reece’s Rainbow: What is It?

Reece's Rainbow

Since I am sort of starting over from scratch, I thought I would just clear the air right up front.  I am a passionate person.  I know there are things wrong in the world and I feel compelled to shout for those who have no voice.  With that being said, I wanted to introduce you to an organization that you’ll probably be hearing a lot about from me if you stick around long enough to listen.  This way, you all have a heads up that I am going to be advocating for the children on this site, and if anyone asks “What exactly is Reece’s Rainbow?”  I can have a nifty little post to refer them back to.

So… here goes!  Reece’s Rainbow is not an adoption agency.  They are an advocacy organization that seeks to find loving families for orphans with special needs around the world.  Reece’s Rainbow was started by the mother of a little boy who has Down syndrome (that would be Reece).  When she discovered the horrific conditions that children born with Down syndrome and other disabilities endure because of their differences, she did something about it.  That something, is Reece’s Rainbow.

How exactly does Reece’s Rainbow help orphans?

Reece’s Rainbow helps orphans on multiple fronts, this is a not a cut and dry battle, but one that is fought on many sides.  Reece’s Rainbow’s ultimate goal is to no longer be needed!  We all hope that one day the parents of these children will be equipped and encouraged to keep their children and raise them.  But for right now, there are children with no families who desperately need out.  Reform has to happen, but it will not happen in time for most of the children waiting right now.

Reece’s Rainbow has a waiting list of children with special needs who are available for adoption.  This gives children from around the world the ability to be seen, something that they would otherwise not have.  Their families often find them through the advocacy of this organization and her many volunteers and fellow advocates.  Reece’s Rainbow also holds grant funds for the children who are waiting.  Now, this often puts people off initially, but let me explain…

The dollar signs next to children’s names are not “for sale” signs.  Rather, these amounts are indicative of support that has been donated and built up for a specific child over a period of time.  International adoption is prohibitively expensive, but if a child has a grant fund in place for their adoption the process can move more quickly and smoothly once a family is found.  This saves lives.  Potential parents who are on the fence about whether they can adopt are often encouraged to know that there is already support waiting for them on the other end.

The other way that Reece’s Rainbow helps is by connecting families with resources and grant funds, giving people tax deductible ways to donate to a family’s adoption and giving them a fundraising platform.  Reece’s Rainbow walks with families throughout the entire adoption process, which is a huge blessing for anyone taking the giant leap of faith that is adoption.

Why do you advocate for Reece’s Rainbow?

There are many ways to care for the widow and the orphan.  This organization, in particular, has my heart.  I have come to fall in love with many of the children that are still in need of families, and can’t help but shout for them, hoping their mommies and daddies will hear!  I have also made dear friends with many of the families adopting with the help of Reece’s Rainbow.  I have learned so much from Andrea, the Reece’s Rainbow staff, adopting families and the advocates that I cannot help but be indebted to them.  In a way they have become a part of my family and my neighbors whom God has given to me to serve.

How can I help?

There are so many ways you can help!  Stay tuned here long enough and I will give you some ideas for sure.  Otherwise, go to the Reece’s Rainbow website and learn more about what they do.   There are waiting children that you can advocate for and families in process that you can encourage and support financially.  Pray for all of these children and families and ask God’s protection over them as they long to be together.

To connect with Reece’s Rainbow and stay informed about more ways you can help, check out their Twitter and Facebook Page.

Facebook Fast: Day 4

Well, I thought it was time to talk about some more of the benefits from this Facebook Fast. I finished a book! I would have finished it anyway… but it would have taken me much longer. And I think I will even get through two books this week. What else is there to do when you are nursing and you don’t have Facebook? Reading is something I definitely need to be doing, but I get a lot less of it done if there are time wasters available on the interwebs.

Blogging! I have been blogging daily! Which is really what I want to be doing… it’s just hard to find the time. But without Facebook? Not so bad I’d say. I’ve also been able to read other blogs. I’ve found posts like this one.  Stories that will break your heart… My passion for saving orphans has never left, but as I readjust my priorities it is being rekindled.  I dare you to read Kori’s Story.  Go on, click on the link and see if God does not move your heart.

What if one of those children in an institution is yours?  What if one of those children being abused and neglected is just waiting for you to find him and bring him home? Perhaps not.  But… what if?  Is it possible?  Even if there is the tiniest possibility that one of these children is yours… wouldn’t it be worth it to make sure?  Wouldn’t it be worth it, just to ask God if you are his mother or father?  Wouldn’t it be worth it to make sure that your child does not have to endure such conditions one day longer than they have to?

Sorry… I know this isn’t exactly Facebook oriented… but in a way it is.  This week has made me start thinking seriously about my priorities in life, and sometimes that involves difficult life changes.  I think it’s important for us to do that.  Scripture tells us that pure religion is to care for the widow and the orphan.  All of us can do something.  What can you do?  Children are dying – dying without knowing the love of a family, and more importantly, dying without knowing the love of Christ.  Let’s check our priorities.

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