No, I am not poor, but I feel so unable to do something to help the helpless. Over the last 22 months I have been following a family's journey through adoption and beyond. This family was adopting internationally, like many other families I know. But this was different. First of all, I had never met this family, but I have a close connection to this mother going back ever farther. Over two years ago, Susanna contacted me after she found this blog. You see, she was expecting her 10th baby and had received a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome. When she was researching to prepare for her new little one, she found my blog and read about Esther . She sent me a message (which I found just weeks before her baby was due) and told me that my blog was a great help in preparing her for her little one, answering questions and dispelling fears. I loved connecting with another mother-of-many who would be mothering a precious child with Down Syndrome. I followed via her blog, The Blessing of Verity, as she went down many of the same paths that we did...nursing difficulties, heart defects, open heart surgery, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and more.
This precious little girl was born into an amazing family. They loved her before they saw her. They cared for her oh so carefully as she too, like Esther, had a hole in her heart.
But then, their journey began to take a new direction - adoption. This was not something I could personally relate to, but was fascinated by.
I've known several families who had adopted internationally and have watched as they blessed children who had little opportunities to grow and develop in the nation of their birth. Some were old enough to know the difference, others were not. I always thought that it was wonderful that these parents would make such a huge sacrifice to help a child - to make a difference in the life of a child who has little hope in their future.
But Susanna's adoption showed me a whole new world. Children who desperately needed to be adopted. Babies and children left in their cribs all day. Children with feeding problems who had a bottle propped up in their mouths and left to "deal with it". Babies who had their diapers changed once a day. Children who had never seen the light of day.
When I think back to the weeks we spend with Esther in the hospital I remember going days without stepping foot outdoors. This was especially bad when she was in the Special Care Nursery in our local hospital as there were no windows to the outdoors, and in NICU at Seattle Children's Hospital as only some of the NICU rooms had windows but we never seemed to get a "room with a view" there. I think it messes with your mind if you never get to breath fresh air, feel a breeze on your skin or the sun on your face (for that matter, the rain on your skin or the snow gently caressing your face - Esther's journey to her heart repair was mostly in the winter ;). When I think of our Esther being deprived like that I just can't even stand the thought. She had my love and tender care everyday, as well as caring nurses, regular diaper changes and careful feedings even if I wasn't present. But these precious little ones are never held, rarely talked to and hardly ever get out of their cribs. My heart broke for these forgotten children. There has been a program set up to give "Babbas" to these children, grandmas if you will, and this has helped tremendously, but it's not enough. To read more about Pleven, the orphanage that Susanna was adopting from, Read This.
The really sad part to me is that children with Down Syndrome are so social. They love to be around people, they love to smile, give hugs and kisses and are in tune to the emotional needs of those around them. But these precious little ones at Katie's orphanage, on her floor, could not do any of the these things, and to be aware of the great needs of those around them (even if only to be in tune to the suffering sounds around them), seems to me like the cruelest hell for someone with their special abilities. Not all of the children on Reece's Rainbow are in these terrible institutions, but many of them are. Even those that are in good orphanages or foster homes need the special care that only a lifetime family can give them.
|Here is Katie without her family...take a good look at her calf and her wrist...|
But why am I telling you all of this? No, we are not adopting (at least not yet, but who knows what God might do in the future). Am I trying to get the word out about Katie? Yes and No - this little girl has been saved out of that life, she's doing wonderful in her new home and new family, but that is not the real purpose. I am telling you this story because it shows what a loving home and family can do for a child seemingly beyond hope. Looking at Katie's photos in the orphanage you wonder if there's any hope that she could survive, let alone thrive...is the damage done too great? Is it worth all the money and hard work to adopt a child from so far away? Would she appreciate it? Would she ever be healthy? The answer is yes! It is worth it all to get her into her forever family! She will continue to have health repercussions and developmental delays due to the deprivations she experienced, but they are slight compared with the future she faced without adoption. And she's not alone! There have been several children adopted out of the institution where Katie came from and they too are thriving in their new homes, loved and cherished by their new families! And there are still over a hundred children (to the best of my knowledge) in that very institute, desperately needing to find their forever families.
I have been so challenged by all of this. I've even looked into what it would take for us to personally adopt a child with special needs. But at this time we can not do that (my knee is the biggest hurdle as I might be having surgery and laid up for a while this fall). I'd love to be able to financially assist another family adopting, but we aren't in a position to do that right now either (but I hope to do this in the future). But what I can do is get the word out - through my blog and through my business. I can also become a Prayer Warrior, a Guardian Angel, a Family Sponsor and/or an Orphan Warrior. I'm hoping to do all - I've even picked out which ones I want to feature here!!
So, "what can I give Him?" I'm giving my time, energy and my blog. I can get the word out that these children need help. Reece's Rainbow is dedicated to matching up families who are able to adopt, children with special needs who need to be adopted, and those who can't adopt but can donate towards those adoptions. It's a match made in heaven!
I've heard it said "but I can't help all those children!" No, but you can make all the difference in the world to one child.
Please take some time to pray about how God would have you help bring these precious little ones into homes where they will be loved and cared for. It could be a simple as "sharing" this blog post, being a prayer warrior, "sharing" a little one as a timeline update on your Facebook account, sponsoring a little one or a family on your blog, or donating money towards a child or family. Maybe for some of my readers God has grabbed a hold of you heart and challenged you to go further. If so, I'd love to hear about it and work to help you bring your forever child home to your family!
Here are the precious little ones I have chosen to sponsor here on my blog:
Alexdra is a little girl who has Brittle Bone Disease. She just turned 5 years old. She is in an Eastern European Orphanage. I hope to be her official Guardian Angel. She needs to find her forever family! Take a minute to check out her profile, and, if you can, send some money her way so her forever family can get the help they need once they find her!
Kimberly is from Latin America. She has Down Syndrome and a few other medical issues that we are familiar with like crossed eyes and hypothyroidism. We have all marveled at how much she looks like Esther (hair color aside)! I am going to be her Orphan Warrior. Her forever family needs to find her! Please donate on her behalf - she doesn't have anything yet!
And the family we are sponsoring is Paul and Maria Brown of Washington State! I picked them because they are here in Washington, and they are adopting a little girl named Gemma out of Pleven, the orphanage where Katie was adopted from. I am looking forward to following their story as it unfolds, watching as God works His miracles in the life of another precious little one who has found her forever family! You can too - check out their adoption blog, Carry Your Light. Take a minute to check out their profile by clicking on the image below, and help them build their adoption fund - I'm sure it would be encouraging them as they are just starting out in this journey!