Frank's Freedom

Meet Frank. He’s 13 years old, and is curious, busy, fun happy and bright. He has a mental delay, but that doesn’t stop him from being friendly, engaging and kind. He’s also an orphan in Eastern Europe. This means he is in an institution. If he is not adopted by age 16, he will be thrown out on the street with nothing but the clothes on his back and his “disabled orphan” status. Let me tell you more about Frank.

He’s little, about the size of a 7 year old. And he’s smart. He is in a group with teenage boys ages 16-24. He does puzzles and he does his chores diligently. He is very kind to the younger children. Frank is friendly and engaging. He likes being with the boys, but is happy being alone too. He plays appropriately with toys and is “all boy”. He could very easily function in a family. Frank is curious, smart, fun and sweet. He likes to play in the dirt and jump on the trampoline. Frank is independent, a good eater, is happy and content. Frank is physically healthy. He walks, runs, feeds himself, speaks, does puzzles and interacts with others well. He's a sweet boy who seems rather unaffected by his surroundings. He has no future where he's at, and without help, he's never getting out. Institutions are a one way ticket to nowhere. And this little boy deserves a future. This little boy will be a blessing to any family.

The Baker family has committed to adopt Frank and another boy, Emmitt. But international adoption is pretty expensive. The adoption would cost about $30,000. Reece’s Rainbow is an organization that helps with this cost. They set up grants for children in 25 countries around the world, and any money that is donated to these funds is given to the families to help with adoption fees. With Reece's Rainbow's help, the Baker family only needs about $10,000 to bring home both boys!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Frogs, Snails and Puppy- Dogs Tails

"What are little boys made of? What are little boys made of? Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs' tails, And that are little boys made of." Three little boys. Brothers. Ages 9, 7 and 5. I don't know the circumstances, but somehow they were removed from their home, and put into an orphanage. Hunter is the oldest. He is 9 years old. In simple terms, he has difficulty sleeping, behavioral problems, and is usually hyperactive. He also has flat feet. He also has a condition that causes pressure on the brain, which can lead to massive headaches. This could be a reason for his difficulty sleeping. And if you can't sleep, it makes it hard to focus on being "good". Or he could have ADHD. ADHD can make it hard to make your brain "shut down" for the night. Or it could be PTSD, anxiety, or another disorder caused by a traumatic experience, like the event that caused the boys to land in an orphanage. When I was younger, I always had a hard time going to sleep. Every now and then, I still get nights where insomnia hits, and I can't seem to fall asleep. At age 5 or 6, I would stay awake for hours, unable to fall asleep. My parents would sometimes have me put boots on and run around in our cul-de-sac to burn off the energy. I remember sleepless nights where I desperately wanted to go to sleep, but it would not come. Hunter could have this same experience. But unlike me, he doesn't have parents to support him. Now, we have medicine like NyQuil that can help you fall asleep. He doesn't have any of that. If he can't sleep, then he won't sleep. His condition can also cause painful headaches. If you have a migraine, you usually take some Advil and go lay down in a dark, quiet room. Hunter doesn't have that available. His room may be dark, but it won't be quiet. He shares it with many other boys. When you have a headache, you're usually more irritable. Which can lead to "behavioral issues". Forest is diagnosed with a mild mental delay and speech issues. While he could have a mental delay, the reality is that almost all orphans are diagnosed with at least a mild mental delay. He hasn't had the same opportunities as other "normal" kids his age. He probably doesn't know all the same stuff as other children his age who have parents. His speech issue could be a range of things. It could be as simple as a speech delay; he could just be a late speaker. He may not talk much if he feels like no one listens. If his older brother, Hunter, has constant headaches, he wouldn't want people to talk to. Therefore, Forest would talk to his younger brother, and may be "delayed" as the result of his main interaction with a younger child. If his speech issue is something like a stutter, he also may be a quiet child, as to not be ridiculed. Ridge is five. His only diagnosis is a mild hear condition that currently does not require surgery. He is the baby of the family. All three brothers are unique boys who need someone to step up and rescue them. They need someone to get them the help they need. Hunter's condition is not life- threatening now, but it could be. Forest needs help now, so he does not regress. If left alone, a mild mental delay could turn into a moderate delay. If ridiculed for a speech issue, he could become withdrawn and mute. Ridge's condition does not require currently require surgery, but if left untreated, it could. Do you have room in your heart and home for three little boys? Little boys were not made for orphanages. They were made for digging in dirt, for hunting for bugs and wrestling in the yard. They were made for laughing at gross stuff and for pretending to be tough. They were made for their heroes to be Spiderman, Superman or Batman. They were made for fighting with imaginary LightSabers and pretending to be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They were made for a family.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Crazy for Orphans

Yep. I'm crazy. I know. So... Usually, when you sign up for Angel Tree, you get one child, and your goal is to raise $1,000 for their adoption grant, between November 1 and December 31. But this year... We also had some siblings on the list. So... Allow me to introduce my Angel Tree Kids- Hunter, Forest and Ridge. Three brothers! I don't know too much about them yet, but here is what I know. Hunter is 9 years old, and born in March 2004. Forest is 7, and was born in August 2006. Ridge is 5, and born in August 2008. I'll be raising money for them this Christmas season! (Blogger won't let me show pics, but I promise, they're cute!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Troll, Noun: 
1. A large, brutish creature of European myth, often lacking in intelligence. Sometimes compared to the Japanese oni.
2. A member of an internet forum who continually harangues and harasses others.

Trolls have no place in the adoption world. All they do is spread hate. Usually a troll had been adopted themselves, and is unhappy about it, and hence hate adoption.
This is for the trolls. I'm calling you out. You have no guts, attacking families who have never done anything to you. You think you're so clever, yet you hide behind a fake name on the internet.

Dear trolls,
Saying you hate adoption because you were adopted, and your family wasn't perfect doesn't make sense.
It makes about as much sense as saying you're against birth because you were born and your family wasn't perfect.
Yes, I get that sometimes adoptions don't work out. But that's no reason to hate it.
If you hate adoption, then you must be against all the products that came from someone who is adopted. So if you're going to be against all adoption, throw out all your Apple products. Your iPhone, your Mac, your iPod, your iPad. Delete your iTunes, and all the music you've ever bought from it. Because you're against adoption, and all those products were invented by someone who was adopted. That's right- Steve Jobs was adopted. If he hadn't been adopted, those products would not exist.

So, trolls, if you say you are against adoption, practice what you preach, and throw out all your Apple products, because they were invented by someone who was adopted.

I dare you.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why They Sometimes Say No

There's always the chance, with adopting older kids, that once a family comes, they say no to being adopted.
A lot of people don't understand. They ask, "If they were always going to say no, why would they say yes in the first place?"
Saying "yes" to the far- off dream of having a family, and "yes" to a family standing in front of you, it's a lot different.
Imagine someone asked you if someday, you'd like to go to Disneyland. You would probably say yes. It doesn't seem very "real" at that time, it's a one in a million chance. It's not a realistic, it's just a dream. You would say yes, and not really think about it again.
But what if months or years later, you are told there is someone that is willing to take you to Disneyland. You would have to learn a new language, leave your friends, but you knew that when you said yes. You would have the time of your life and make new friends. You're very excited to go.
But then your friends and caretakers, the people you have grown up with, the ones who you trust, start telling you things. They're lies, but you don't know that. They start telling you that if you go, you will be killed, and your body parts sold. They tell you that if you go, they will never talk to you again.
So you get scared, and you say no.
That's what happens to kids in EE. Boys like M. He wanted a family. He heard of the great things a family could give him, and he wanted it more then anything. He wanted to be loved.
But when a family came, he started getting scared. His friends and caretakers, people he trusted, began to tell him horrible (untrue) things. They told him no one would ever love him in America. They told him that he would be sold for parts. They told him that Americans would kill him. They told him that he would have a great life if he stayed (which is usually not true). They told him he would be scorned at the orphanage if he said yes.
So he got scared. He didn't want to leave his friends. He couldn't gather the courage to say yes. So he said no. The caretakers had told him he would be able to go to trade school and get an education- even though he lived in country that is not wheelchair- accessible.
By the time he realizes the mistake, that he should have said yes, it will be too late. He'll be kicked out, or worse, transferred to an adult mental institution.
That's why we pray so hard for these older boys, pray they will say yes to adoption. Before it's too late. And even if they say no, we continue to pray, that God will change their hearts. We remain ready to jump on a plane and go rescue them. We will never give up hope.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Image of God

We are all made in the image of God. Whether you are white, black, Asian, Native American, short, tall, fat, thin, it doesn't matter. We were made in the image of God. That doesn't mean just the actual "image"; what we look like on the outside.

It's the things on the inside too. Not the literal "inside" like bones, but things like feelings. We all have feelings. The way something makes us feel. The way our brains work. The sense of right and wrong. Our brains are one of the reasons I have to believe God exists. There is no way that such a complex organ could just "evolve" into existence. Something (or someone) had to create it. I'm not completely against the idea of evolution; the idea that things "evolve" to adapt to their surroundings. I know that small evolution like that happens. Like an species slowly becoming smaller to avoid capture, yes, it makes sense. But I don't believe we came from monkeys. Our brains are too intricate to have just "happened". We were made in the image of God. We're all equal. No one is any better then someone else. So why don't we treat people like that? Why do we treat others like we are so much better then them? Why do we think others are "lower" and don't deserve life?

90% of babies diagnose with Down Syndrome are aborted. 9 in 10.
90 in 100 – that is a lot of life snuffed out because of the possibility of one extra chromosome.

I'm not saying it's easy to be a parent of a child with special needs. But doesn't every child deserve a chance at life?

I've met a lot of kids with Down Syndrome, and they are some of the sweetest kids you will ever meet. But 9 in 10 potential kids with Down Syndrome are aborted. I can't stand that. And those kids that are "lucky" enough to be born? In Eastern Europe, they are deemed "unworthy" of normal life. At age 4, they are put into an adult mental institution. At only 4 years old. You probably know a four year old. A friend, a niece or nephew, maybe even your own child. Imagine if they were put into a mental institution. Four year olds may seem like they are independent, but they are not. They still need someone to make sure they get food everyday, give them baths, pick out their clothes. But in Eastern Europe, those little four years are sent to adult mental institutions, just because they were born with special needs.

Before you start booing Eastern Europe, remember, in America, we used to do that too. We still have a few mental institutions, "homes", for those with special needs. Luckily we've started to move past that. Theo was one of those ones that was "lucky" enough to be born. I don't know his full story, but his mother gave him up. Maybe she couldn't raise a child. Maybe she wanted to keep him, but her friends and family talked her out of it. Whatever the reason, he was given up. Now he's older, and he's in a mental institution. Yes, it's one of the "better" ones. He was one of the few boys that was put into the "Happy Home" next to the orphanage, where it is a little more like a home, where they get a little more attention.

But it's still an orphanage.

All because he was born with cerebral palsy. A sweet, gentle, happy little boy, was doomed by his country because of something that wasn't his fault. Cerebral Palsy isn't a death sentence. With therapy, he could probably live a pretty normal life. But he needs a family for that. Are you his family?

People say I'm obsessed with orphans. Yes, I am. And I'm not ashamed. I'm not ashamed of pouring my heart and soul into rescuing orphans from a living hell. Because they don't have another voice. I know that my writing, my fundraising, it won't change the world. His family probably won't find him through me. My fundraising probably won't even make a dent in the huge price for Theo's Freedom. Theo probably won't ever know about me. But you know what? If one person reads this, that's one more person that may not have known before. That's one more person that can help spread the word. So, no, I'm not going to change the world.

But I sure am going to try.

Because it makes a difference to this one.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Theo the Gentle

Everyone who has met Theo described him as a gentle, lovey, cuddly boy. He is very delayed, but would blossom in a family, if given the opportunity. He is a gentle delight to be around, and such a sweetie! 

He is stiff, due to having cerebral palsy, and not having the luxury of Physical Therapy to help him function better. He sits hour after hour in a wheel chair. As he gets older and bigger he will be moved to a bed and left there. He will be put in a diaper and left in bed – fed there and left – the diaper changed once or twice a day. He will no longer be taken outside he will just be left to lay there. Unless the workers take them to the pond or playground, they literally sit in a shed and do NOTHING all day.
He is truly a sweetheart with so much love to give. He is an incredibly loving little boy. He is so sweet and gentle and patient. He is appreciative of the smallest kindness. When someone visiting waved at him, his eyes came to life – he was noticed. Later when she returned he waved and smiled. She went and said hi to him and he lit up. The third day she went and gave him a balloon and you would have thought he won the lottery. If they were playing with balloons she would make sure he had one. He soon learned to pop the balloon. He thought it was hysterical. It also got him attention – everyone would look. He has a great smile and laughs easily. The balloon popping had him in hysterics. 

Theo is an absolute sweetheart. Gentle is what sums him up the best, his smile is ever ready and he loved being around people. He kind of melted into his joy every time they got close to him. 

Of all the kids there I think he has the most room for improvement. With a family that will stretch him and help him I think he has a ton of potential! He is speech delayed also but again has so much potential.

He speaks but not much, but he seems aware of his surroundings and delights in small pleasures. A missionary took him for a walk one day and they heard a cuckoo. She said "cuckoo!" and he repeated "cuckoo!" several times. The next day, when  she saw him, he said "Mama! Cuckoo!" He has the ability to remember people and events. He has the sweetest voice, and he actively seeks attention. He loves to sit on the swing and to listen to music or play with musical toys. He also was thrilled to be able to dip his hands and legs in the pond.
There have several pictures of him - none great cause every time someone goes to take it he is so excited with the attention he won't stop moving.

A missionary took the children to the playground, and she wrote all their names in English and gave them the papers. Theo was so excited to get his. He kept looking at it and saying his name again and again and showing her. Later, when they were back at the shed, she saw him looking at the paper and saying his name. Then he carefully put it in his pocket, which is hard for him because he has cerebral palsy. Then he sat with his hand covering his pocket so the paper would not fall out. After he was in bed, she rubbed his back and sang to him and he just smiled and smiled and patted her face. Theo would blossom in a family.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

All Along

When I first found RR, I put together a list of kid that caught my attention. Along with Sullivan and Dmitriy, Theo was on that list. Then I went to the one or two kid sponsoring, and kind of forgot him. Then I added him to the five boys kids (along with Frank, Ulysses and Zack, who all have families). I've been trying to figure out who to sponsor next. I kind of wasn't sure if I would pick another kid.

But I was updating the blog, and knowing Danielle Vrtar (A Reece's Rainbow advocate) was at O50, so I went through and added the kids at O50 that caught my attention (Maya's Hope also shares about them), along with Brody and Auggie (can't abandon the brothers).

All day, Theo was on my mind. But I wasn't sure. So I said, "God, please give me a sign if he is the next one." So I sent my best friend (and blog partner) the pictures of the six boys, to see if she felt the same pull. And she did. Out of the six, she felt drawn to Theo too.

Monday, June 10, 2013

If We Are The Body

When we see bad stuff happening, we go "God, why are you letting this happen?" And you know what? He's looking at you and asking the same thing.
If we are the body of Christ, why does almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day? We're not doing everything we can. Because there's enough for everyone's need. Just not everyone's greed.
In 2005, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school. 72 million kids, who were at the age to be in school, weren't.
- Less than 1% of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen. Our focus is on defeating others, instead of educating our future. The money is out there, but we are too greedy.
- Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation. 1.1 billion people. 1,100,000,000 people, don't have adequate access to water. And that water they do have access to, isn't that healthy. Twice that many lack basic sanitation. So people get sick. People are getting sick and dying from preventable things.
Here in America, you have access to water pretty much 24/7. Go walk into your kitchen, there's water. Water to drink, to cook, to flush toilets, to water our gardens. 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometre, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 litres per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 litres of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
Can you believe that? We use more water to FLUSH A TOILET then 1.8 billion people have access to everyday. Doesn't that bother you? In the US, we use an average of 600 liters of water a day- per person. One person in the US uses the same amount as 30 people who don't have water in their house. We take long showers, not thinking about how much water we're using, because it's not going to run out. Doing laundry, doing dishes. Millions of women spending several hours a day collecting water. Yet in the US, we can get it in five seconds. You can probably see a water source from where you're sitting right now.
1 in every 2 children is living in poverty. Yet we have 7 year old beauty pagent participants with their own TV shows. We have shows where parents will spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to dress their children up and show them off.
There are 157 million orphans in the world. There are 2.18 billion people who call themselves Christians. There is no way this can be right.
157,000,000 orphans.
2,180,000,000 Christians.
James 1:27 is pretty clear. "Religion our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans in their distress." If you call yourself a Christian, look after orphans.
So where's the problem?
Our problem is that we aren't being the body. We need to become the body, and save these little ones. We're getting too comfortable in our faith, just taking the forgiveness, and not giving back. That's not what being a Christian is about! We serve because we are saved, not to be saved. When you realize that freedom, you can't help but share it with others! It's like having the cure for cancer. You're not sharing it because you want to save yourself, you're sharing it because you can't help share! Good works are the fruits of salvation, not the roots.
It's like an apple, it doesn't have to think about growing apples, it just does! It doesn't make apples so that it will be kept care of, it makes apples because it is taken care of.
We are the body of Christ. Every one of those things I mentioned can be fixed. There are multiple organizations that have made it their mission to eliminate one of those problems.
A body only works if everything works together, and does what it is supposed to do.
And as a church, we need to be welcoming. Church is not a museum for good people, it’s a hospital for the broken. We all need healing. So don't judge others. You know you do it. Put yourself in their shoes. Because people notice, when you won't make eye contact, or avoid passing them. They notice when you talk about them. And although the saying goes, "Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me", words do hurt. Sticks and stones hurt physically, but physical wounds can heal. Emotional wounds are so much worse.
We don't want to be excluded, so why do we exclude others?
We're all human, we're all messed up. We all have secrets, and things we are ashamed of. We've all sinned, we've all hurt others. No one is better then anyone else. So don't try to be.

It's crowded in worship today
As she slips in trying to fade into the faces
The girl's teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ

if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When You Wish Upon A Star

You know what I really miss about Mexico, that I never expected I would? The stars.
When I was little, stargazing kind of freaked me out. I don't know why. Mostly when I saw a satellite, because it was freaky to me to think that it was all the way out in space, and I could seen it moving.
But when I was on the mission trip in Mexico, I loved how many stars you could see. Here, you can't see as many stars. That's because almost wherever you go, there's a town with lights nearby. Big cities, even from far away, light up the sky, and you can't see as many stars.
But in Mexico, you could see so many. Because there wasn't huge cities full of lights everywhere. It was amazing to walk to our tent every night, and see all the stars.
It's amazing to realize that the God who made every one of those stars, made us. He knows every star in the sky and every hair on your head.

And a little boy in Eastern Europe and a group of people here who love him could all be looking at that same star.

Did he pray every night for a family? I know I did. I prayed for a family for him. Because I know how at risk he is. I know that if he wasn't saved, he would literally lose his mind. He'd turn into a mindless, rocking body. I knew he would never get out without a family. He had no hope without a family. So I prayed every night that a family would take the leap of faith and rescue him.
In September 2011, Laura and Jeremy traveled to Eastern Europe to rescue their son, Seth. They spent seven weeks in country, meeting Seth and adopting him. While they were there, they met a little boy. Laura thought he was 7, because he was so small. When they got home, she went to work getting him listed on Reece's Rainbow.
About February 2012, he was listed on Reece's Rainbow. He had a not- so- good photo that had been taken about six months earlier. Laura gave Reece's Rainbow a picture they had gotten of him, and information about him. But no one really knew about him.
He'd been met by someone six months earlier, but that was all the information about him. He wasn't aging out, he didn't have a life- threatening disease. He was just a dirty, lonely boy. He didn't have a heart- wrenching story, like some of the other kids. He was overlooked. I admit, I'd glanced through the listings and seen him before, but he didn't really catch my attention. 
That was around the time of the "Orphanage 39" "craziness". A mom was in country, at 'Orphanage 39'. She was meeting her daughter. While they were there, they started getting to know the kids at that orphanage. It was a really good orphanage, and a lot of the kids had been listed. She began begging for families for them, sharing updates and stories about them. The Reece's Rainbow community began sharing and yelling for these kids. Every child she yelled for (except for three, who sadly decided not to be adopted) is now home. I joined in, yelling for those kids. I was a Guardian Angel for Tyler, then Alexis, then Patti, then Carter. So, I hadn't really noticed Frank. Then in August, I was looking for another child to sponsor. A boy was listed on Reece's Rainbow, and I immediately jumped to become his Guardian Angel. He was an older boy, already 12 years old, named Zack, with Spina Bifida. A family had met him, and he had been the best friend of their daughter. Pretty soon, Zack found a family. 
So I was looking on Reece's Rainbow, to try and see who I would sponsor next. I made a list of all the children (at that time) who had been met by adopting families, and therefore had information and pictures available. I started praying, and worked on narrowing the list down. I knew I wanted older kids, so I narrowed it down to kids 6 and up. Then I narrowed it to kids with special needs other then Down Syndrome, since DS is Reece's Rainbow's main focus. Then to boys, because they are less likely to be chosen. Along the way, I picked up a little blind boy who stole my heart, even though no one had met him and he was only three. Finally, I got it down to 4 older boys. All in Eastern Europe, all with special needs other then Down Syndrome.
Theo, who has Cerebral Palsy. Multiple people had met him, and shared pictures. He was such a calm and gentle boy.
Brody and Auggie. Brothers, who had been separated. They were believed to have a genetic disorder, that lead to self- harming and autistic behaviors. Two missionary had spent time with them, and had a lot of pictures and information.
I picked up Ulysses, because I had a soft spot for blind little boys.
Then there was Frank. I still don't know exactly why I was led to pick him, but I did. For August and September, I began to share about each of the boys, collecting all the information and sharing it.
Then in October, Frank was up for voting for Angel Tree. I kept posting on the Reece's Rainbow group page, asking people to vote for Frank. Laura contacted me, to let me know she was the one who had met Frank and got him listed. When he made it onto Angel Tree, I knew he was the one I was supposed to sponsor. I became his Angel Tree Warrior.
Before Angel Tree, he only had about $200 in his adoption grant. He still wasn't very "well- known". I'll admit it, I was terrified he wouldn't get to his goal. I was terrified to fail him. I committed to be his warrior, and my brain immediately went "What did you just do?" 
But I knew God would be faithful, and he would make it to $1,000. 
Frank was starting to touch other lives too. A fellow (popular)advocate, Julia, shared about him on her blog. I truly believe it was because of her sharing that he made it to his goal.
After Angel Tree, his grant stalled for a while.
Then a team of fellow advocates put together a huge fundraiser, to raise money for kids on RR, and raise awareness. It was called Forty To Forever. For each of the 40 days of Lent, the goal was to raise $400 for the featured waiting child or adopting family. I immediately asked if Frank could be part. And he was!
Forty To Forever raised about $500 for him. It also got his face out there. 
His army of supporters was slowly growing. 
Then Julia had her big fundraiser, Mulligan Stew. It was a huge success, and Frank was a part of it! He had stolen her heart, and he was one of the children she wanted to raise awareness and fundraise for him. Mulligan Stew raised over $1,000 for his adoption grant. He also received a special donation of about $2,000.
Now he had over $4,000 in his adoption grant. I was slowly working to get him to $5,000 (the next level of Moving Mountains, Sizable Grants). That was about a month ago. I was blogging and writing and sharing about him, begging for a family for him. I arranged a virtual "birthday party" for him, as a fundraiser for him.
Then Reece's Rainbow made the bittersweet decision to regift the adoption grants raised for the children in Russia, since Russia has banned American adoptions. Frank was gifted one of these grants. I had been hoping he would get one, thinking he would get $1,000, tops.
He was gifted an adoption grant of $7,649. I hadn't been on to see, but an advocator commented on a post of mine, saying it looked like his grant had taken a huge leap. Pessimist that I am at times, I thought maybe it was just her now seeing the Mulligan Stew money fundraised. But I went and checked.
His adoption grant was now almost $12,000. I almost cried when I saw that. I had just been talking to Laura, that with almost $5,000, he was only $1,000 away from being 1/3 funded. Then he got to almost $12,000. He was only $13 away, so I asked if someone would donate $13, to get him to $12,000, in honor of him turning 13 this month. Laura did. So he had $12,000.37.
On Tuesday night, I was getting ready for Frank's birthday "party". Trying to get more kids invited, seeing who was invited. 

Then I got a message. 

Only two words. 

"Watch MFFM". 

I think Frank heard my scream on the other side of the world.
The day before his 13th birthday (month), he found a family.

He found a family.

Now, let me backtrack a little. There was another boy on Reece's Rainbow, an older boy. Almost 15 years old, trapped in a Level 4 (very poor) institution. Mentally- sound, trapped in a body that does not work. If you have been around Reece's Rainbow a while, you have probably heard of him. His name is Emmitt. He'd been listed for a long time. Multiple years, at least. He had one picture, and a little write- up from a family who had met him a few years back. No one knew anything else about him, but he'd been listed so long, everyone knew about him. He was about to turn 15. His advocate, Pam, is the one who came up with the birthday party idea. Of course, she got a lot more kids invited, since she started 6 months in advance. He and Frank were both on Angel Tree.

There have been two "parties" for kids on Reece's Rainbow. Pam's for Emmitt, and mine for Frank.

There was a mom who got two Angel Tree Ornaments. Frank's and Emmitt's. She had no idea what was to come.

March 2013, Emmitt found a family. We rejoiced that he found a family. We celebrated he would be rescued.

2013 has been the year for older boys.
There's 50 older boys (born 2007 or earlier) on MFFM. Frank is #50. I knew it was coming. There were so many older boys ending up on MFFM, I knew Frank was coming.

Emmitt and Frank. Two older other angel boys. Both over 10. Both in Level 4 institutions. Both too smart to be where they are. Both on Angel Tree. Both in Eastern Europe.


They're going to be brothers.

They prayed for a family. They looked at that star, and prayed God would give them a family, and rescue them.

They're coming home.

God always has a plan. 

"'For I know the plans I have for you,'” declares the Lord , “'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, May 6, 2013

Nobody's Child

Written by Katie

I wish I could command inspiration to strike me when I needed it, but I can't.

I wish I could conjure up the most eloquent blog post ever right now, but I can't.

I'm actually pretty preoccupied by my health tonight, and I didn't really want to write a blog post.

But then it occurred to me.

While I sit in my warm bed in my warm house, not wanting to type on my laptop...

...a little boy sits, and maybe he's cold, having nothing that's really his own... not wanting to be an orphan.

And I owe it to him to write this post.

Around a year and a half ago, for some reason and without ever intending to, I fell in love with this little boy.

Back then, he looked more like this:

I don't know what it was about him.  Maybe his picture.  Maybe his story.  But I think, mostly God.

That little boy is Brett, and he lives in a mental institution in Eastern Europe, because he was abandoned at birth because he has down syndrome.

And when I say abandoned at birth... I mean it quite literally.  Most of the children in orphanages or institutions were born in hospitals or at home and surrendered from there directly to the orphanage.  Not Brett.  Immediately after giving birth, Brett's birth mother left him to lie in a field.  He became hypothermic and unresponsive, went into shock.  When a stranger came upon him and took him to the hospital, he was covered in bug bites.

Brett very nearly didn't make it through his first day on this earth.  If that stranger hadn't come upon him, for whatever reason, by whatever twist of fate... he would have died, a nameless baby who belonged to no one.

But that didn't happen.  He was saved.  Saved... and then taken to a hospital... and then to an orphanage.  At three years old, he was transferred from the orphanage to an adult mental institution.  Adult.  Three years old.

Saved... but for what kind of life?

This is the question I ask myself every day - and it can only have one answer.  Brett's story isn't over - not yet.  He was saved that day, on August 23, 2001 (yes, I have his birthday memorized), for something greater than the life he's living now... and all he needs to get there... is you.


Yes, YOU.

If you've been waiting for a sign, this is it.  Brett needs YOU.

He's eleven years old now, still waiting in that mental institution, legally free and available for adoption and listed with Reece's Ranbow with a grant over $2,500 to aid with his adoption.  I can personally promise to help raise the rest of the money required for the family who adopts him.  His country is really a great one to adopt from - easy travel, inexpensive, very stable program, Hague country, I've heard nothing but good about the facilitators and agency staff.

What are you waiting for?

Recently, one of the adoption facilitators traveled to Brett's institution.  The report came back that he has some nonverbal communication skills, is extremely flexible (typical for kids with DS), and would likely do very well in a family and is not aggressive (something that has been seen in many institutionalized children).  Brett also has alopecia, which is why he lost his hair.  No big deal.  I shaved mine for him on New Year's this year!  There are all sorts of fun things to do with a bald head.  And this little detail of his appearance... should absolutely NOT be what stops him from having the family he deserves.  From my own limited experience with institutionalized children, I suspect he would be a wonderful and loving son.  Others with more experience seem to concur.  More pictures and videos of Brett are available from the agency.

There are two possible outcomes for Brett.  Only two.  He doesn't have the limitless opportunities we have in this country.

The first one, the one I want for him, is a happy ending.  A family.  A mom and dad, or maybe just a mom, to say YES to Brett... where others have said no.

Lately, there have been a string of older boys (the most at-risk group of orphans) appearing on the My Family Found Me page at Reece's Rainbow.  And every time a new one shows up, I rejoice for him, but my heart says, "Why not Brett?"  Fifteen year olds, aging out in a matter of days, have had the adoption community rally around them and been adopted just in time.  Teenagers, on the cusp of being fully grown adults.  By comparison, Brett isn't 'older'.  He's eleven.  I remember eleven.  We traded pokemon cards, danced to music, played dress up in our parents' clothes, loved board games, had sleepovers.  Brett is still a child.  And he has Down Syndrome.  His developmental 'age' is likely much lower.  He's just a little boy... in the body of an eleven year old.  So I ask again... Why not Brett?  Why, never Brett?  Why is he not one that people rally behind?  Because he doesn't come from the 'right' institution?  Because no adopting families have met him?  None of these things are his fault!  No more obstacles than have been overcome in previous cases.

He's just another little boy, locked away in a place he doesn't belong... probably very rural, from what we know, which is likely to increase his hardship, especially during the winter.  Heat and food can be hard to come by in rural areas without reliable routes of transportation for all seasons... so while you're celebrating Christmas, instead of celebrating with you, eyes lighting up brighter than the Christmas tree, he's probably cold, and hungry.

'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'   ...whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

If Christ our Lord was sitting in that institution... would you not save him?

But He is.

He is in every one of us... especially the least of these.

Which group are you in?  Those who do, or those who don't?

Because, the second possible outcome of Brett's life is unimaginable.  I don't need a long paragraph to describe it.  He will spend the rest of his life in a mental institution with sub-par care, until one day, he dies there.  He will rock, chew his hands, bite his tongue, stare at blank walls, shiver, maybe starve... and then he will die.  He'll be buried in an unmarked grave, or maybe a grave marked only with a wooden stick and a number.  Again, nameless, and again, belonging to nobody... the same way he started out.

That is not the life he was saved for.  I refuse to believe it.  That can't be his future.  Not after all the obstacles he's overcome already.  Brett is a fighter - in a good way, of course - but there's only so much he can do for himself in his position.  Right now, he needs you... to help him fight... to get him out... to save him from fading away as alone as he started out.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me allow the pictures to illustrate the stark contrast between these two futures.

Here's the one he can have if you say YES to him.

And here's the one he'll have if you turn away.

I've been pleading for Brett since the day I saw his picture.  Like the day the stranger came upon him in that field, I believe it was fate that I saw him.  But I can't adopt him.  I'm too young for his country's requirements and I always will be.  The law requires parent and child to be at least 15 years apart in age.  I've posted his picture everywhere.  I've written countless blog posts for him.  I've done fundraisers for him.  I shaved my head for one of them!  Since that day a year and a half ago, his grant has grown by over $2,500 (although certainly not by my own hand).  But I can't save him.  Not alone.

I'm a realistic person.  I know not everyone can or should adopt... but I also know that people do, every day... and sometimes they choose older boys, just like Brett.  Why not him?  And if you're in that group, like me, who couldn't adopt him no matter how hard they tried, that doesn't mean you can't do anything!  Brett needs two things.  He needs money in his Reece's Rainbow account, to help the family who commits to him. You can donate to him here.  But more than anything, he needs to be seen.  So I beg you to share this blog post... far and wide.  If you never do anything I ask again, please, please do this.  Just this would be enough. And if not for me... do it for the abandoned little boy in the field, cold and alone and covered in bug bites.  Or do it for God.  Just do it... please.  This is our chance to get Brett seen... before it becomes an aging out emergency.

Donate.  Share.  Pray.  Adopt.

Be one of those who gives to the least of these... not one of those who turns away.

Please.  I'm begging you.  Don't turn away.  Don't let him stay the way he is right now... nobody's child.

Other blog posts about Brett:

Inquire about Brett