Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Favorite Quote

It's been chilly out recently. Autumn has definitely come. It's my favorite season. I love the crisp weather and the beautiful trees and the crunchy leave skittering down the street. I love Halloween. I love wearing sweaters and tights.

I started this blog on May 5th. I have now been blogging for an entire season. During that time, seventeen boys I have featured on my blog have been found by their forever families (I don't take credit for that. Many people, not just me, are working hard for these boys). Seventeen lives have been redeemed, and seventeen families have been built. Even though the sad stories can sometimes be overwhelming, the fact is that, by working together, we are changing lives and changing the world. That is an encouraging thought.

My favorite quote is from The Lord of the Rings (and for you Tolkien purists, it is not spoken, as is shown in the movie, in the mines of Moria; it is spoken while Frodo and Gandalf are still in the Shire, in the chapter A Shadow of the Past). Frodo is lamenting the situation he is in, and he tells Gandalf that he wishes the ring had never come to him. Gandalf responds, in part, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."

This is the quote that I keep in mind as I go about my life. This is the quote that I think of when I have a decision to make. This is the quote that helps to remind me of the type of person I want to be. Some people rely on Bible or other religious verses. Some turn to song lyrics, and others to lines from poetry. For me, my favorite quote comes from a fantasy world that is rife with struggle and where good and evil are so clearly cast. In Tolkien's world, it's so easy to see what is the right thing to do, even if it is hard to do it. In Tolkien's world, good triumphs.

In the real world, things are not always so simple. The bad guys aren't always so apparent. The correct course of action is not always so clear. I wrestle daily with the plight of these children for whom I advocate. I wonder what I should be doing. I wonder if what I am doing is enough. I wonder whether I could do more. I am faced with myriad distractions and responsibilities. I get tired and discouraged. I feel overwhelmed and overscheduled and underequipped. But I keep writing this blog because I have decided to use this time that is given to me to do what is within my power to bring attention to these children who need us.

My thoughts are never far from the boys who have no voice of their own: Jack, whose family is on its way. Denis, who has many who love him but none who have yet found him. Jason, who is hidden away so remotely that little is known about him. All the other boys whom I have featured who are still lost. All the boys, everywhere, who need someone to love them.

Parker is one of these boys. Parker is seven years old. He has such beautiful brown eyes. Parker is moderately cognitively delayed, and he has a heart condition. Just as Jack, Denis, and Jason have captured my heart, Parker has captured the heart of a passionate advocate for orphans who is reminded of her own son when she sees Parker. Leila over at Orphan Report has a special place for Parker in her heart. Very little is known about Parker, which could be why he is so frequently overlooked. Parker has only $50 in his adoption grant fund, and he does not have a Guardian Angel.

Parker needs people to speak up for him. He needs people to advocate for him, to show his face to the world in the faith that his family is out there and will know him when they see him. You can help Parker by donating to his adoption grant fund, sharing his photo and information, and considering whether Parker could be your son. You can help Denis, Jason, and any of the countless number of boys out there who are growing up without families by doing the same thing. 

I know that we are all busy. I know that we all have numerous responsibilities. I know that many of us already have charitable interests that take up our time and money. I know that sometimes, the thought of doing even one more thing feels like it will be the thing that brings down the delicately balanced house of cards. But today I am asking you, my friends and readers, to share one child who has touched your heart. Share on your blog. Share on your Facebook page. Share with your religious community. Share with a friend. Share with a stranger at the grocery store. We never know where a child's family will be. It only takes a moment. And all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your support of orphaned boys worldwide.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Miracle: Alexandra and Niceta

Hello, friends. I am back from a mini-hiatus from the blogging. Since we started our new school several weeks ago, we have been tweaking the schedule and getting used to the new routine. Officially we school year-round, but the summer is a lighter schedule.

In addition, the younger children and I have begun the Couch to 5K running plan. Now, let me make myself clear: I hate running. More than hating running, I hate to sweat. More than hating to sweat, I hate the tingly, prickly feeling in my gums when I get out of breath. I really just hate to exercise.

I do play hockey periodically, but that's not frequent enough to be of any real cardiovascular or other exercise-related benefit. But I didn't start the Couch to 5K for me; I started it for my son. He's a great kid with boundless energy and a need for a goal. I figured running was: something we could do together, something he could do both during hockey and in the off-season, and something that would burn up a lot of that incessant energy. We have completed one of the nine weeks, and my daughter even (reluctantly) agreed to join us. I'm proud of us all for tackling something new.

Today I would like to introduce you to Alexandra and Niceta. This is a sibling group that cannot be separated. Niceta is a child who is running out of time. He was born in 1997, which makes him 15 years old this year. Niceta is described as flexible and friendly. I hope to have a better picture of Niceta soon. Alexandra was born in 2008. This cheerful little girl is described as very positive and sociable and a favorite of all. Both Alexandra and Niceta are healthy, but because of the large age difference between these siblings, and the fact that Niceta is an older boy, these children still wait in an orphanage. Orphanage workers have stated that Niceta is a good and positive boy and that "a family who adopts him will not have any problems."

While it is good that the region these children live in won't separate them, it also increases the chance that they will never be adopted. It is my opinion that children who have established relationships with their siblings should not be separated if at all possible. One of my children left siblings (that we didn't know about and who are unavailable for adoption) behind when adopted. It has been very hard for this child and is not something that I would knowingly put a child through. Alexandra and Niceta will need a family open to a wide range of ages, both genders, and a sibling group. This, unfortunately, dramatically reduces the number of potential families for them. But just like all other children, Alexandra and Niceta deserve a family.

Alexandra and Niceta are not listed on Reece's Rainbow. If you are interested in adopting them, or know someone who is, please email me via the Contact Me button on the right sidebar of my blog. I can put you in contact with someone who can assist you. Please share Alexandra and Niceta's photos and information as widely as you can. We can work together to make sure these children don't linger in an orphanage any longer!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Heard Some Good News

Do you remember this face?

I hope so, because it is my goal to make sure you don't forget him.

You can see him in the upper right sidebar of my blog, along with a link to the Project Hopeful grant fund I set up for him.

Look at his sweet face!

This boy needs a family!

I heard some good news today about Denis. Back in June, Denis and his groupa had a graduation ceremony at their orphanage. I have seen video of it, and Denis looks so serious and nervous as he crosses the courtyard, holding a bouquet of flowers, to receive his graduation medal. I was told that, in August, Denis and his groupa would be transferred from the well-run, clean, caring children's home he has lived in for about 5 years to an internat, a boarding school. If you are regular readers of my blog, you know that the term "boarding school" does not refer to the cushy college-prep academy Americans think of when they hear the words "boarding school." In Eastern Europe, internats are usually poorly funded and lacking, and oftentimes the older children victimize the younger ones. I was very scared for Denis when I heard that this lovely child, just 10 years old and very sensitive, would be sent to one of these places.

This morning I heard that Denis has not, in fact, been transferred, and all indications are that he will remain at the children's home where he's been living for the foreseeable future. This is excellent because it means that not only will Denis continue to live in an environment that is familiar and stable to him, with caregivers he knows and trusts, he will also have continued access to good medical care AND he will be more visible to adoptive parents as the come to the orphanage to adopt (often younger) children.

In the life of an orphan, victories like this, which often come completely by chance, are important victories. Denis has been given a reprieve.

But he still waits for a family. Despite the glowing reports of several families who have met him, love him, and highly recommend him as a son, Denis is still waiting. Denis needs your help.

I'm asking for you, the readers of TWOB, to please share Denis in any way you can. If you have a blog, please post about him. You can write your own post or use one of mine (if you do this, please credit me or link to my blog). If you have a Facebook page, please share Denis' picture and a link to my original post about Denis. Ask all your friends to share him, too. Share Denis' photo and story with your homeschool group, your kids' soccer team, your religious congregation ... anywhere you can. As a friend of mine, who shared Denis' photo at my request, wrote, you never know who is considering adoption. You never know who will see Denis' face at the right time and find their son.

Denis can't advocate for himself. He needs us to do it for him. Please don't forget Denis. I never will.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting Wednesday: Ruslan (+ How Sharing Finds Kids Families)

Today I would like to introduce you to Ruslan. Doesn't he look like the happiest little guy ever? Ruslan is how I found out about Reece's Rainbow. A friend of mine who had adopted a little boy listed on RR decided to have a virtual baby shower for her newest child. Instead of asking for baby items for herself, she asked people to donate to Ruslan's adoption grant fund. I made my donation and then began poking around the site. I discovered the page for HIV+ boys ages 10+, saw Jack, and the rest is history. It has been my honor and privilege to advocate for these children, and many more, over the last 4 1/2 months.

Ruslan will turn 10 years old in November. He has already been transferred to an institution. He is a carrier of Hepatitis B, but it is unknown at this time whether he is actually infected. If you have any questions about Hepatitis B, please don't hesitate to contact me. One of my children is living with this virus.

Because Ruslan has already been transferred, a family interested in adopting him must be homestudy approved. Total costs for his adoption should be less than $24,000. His region requires one to two trips, and due to his location, travel should be fairly easy.

Ruslan currently has $7241.50 in his grant fund! Approximately 1/3 of his adoption costs have already been raised! This little boy is in desperate need of a family. A ten year old boy does NOT belong in a mental institution. He belongs in a family who will shower him with all the love he has missed and provide him with the appropriate education and services so that he can reach his full potential.

You can help Ruslan by donating to increase his grant fund, sharing his information, and considering whether he has a place in your family. 

My husband and I made the decision to adopt before we ever were married (in fact, I broached the subject on our second date--I don't mess around!--and had my husband not been interested in adopting, there would have been no third date!). We didn't know much about adoption at that time. I had worked as a foster care social worker for several years, but for various reasons we preferred to adopt internationally. You can read here about our journey to adoption. 

Thanks to the generosity and advocacy of other adoptive families, we found our kids. I have always been of the opinion that we have a duty, as adoptive parents of these most forgotten children, to do what we can for the ones who have been left behind. I have talked to countless families over the years about our experiences with adoption, and I am proud to say that I have played a part, however small, in several children being found by their forever families. I hope that the families I have shared with have turned around and done the same for others. But as my experience with finding Reece's Rainbow demonstrates, there is always a new way to help, there is always a new opportunity to advocate, and there is always a new child out there, waiting to be found. 

Because my friend shared her in-lieu-of baby shower with me, I have been able to share all of these children with you. It amazes me how the network keeps growing, how the opportunities keep expanding, and how many more children have the opportunity to grow up as cherished family members and not neglected wards of the state, because we all work together for the good of these precious orphans.

Please share about Ruslan. Please share about any other child you see on my blog who catches your heartstrings. Please share about any child you find, anywhere, who needs your advocacy. Please share about the conditions of children in overseas orphanages and the opportunities to help them. Please share about the amazing, incredible organizations, such as Reece's Rainbow and Maya's Hope, who bring light into the darkest places and offer love and the chance for a better life to these most vulnerable of children. You never know what the impact of your sharing will be. Together, we make a difference every day.

Please don't forget about Dmitry, who still waits.

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your support of orphaned boys worldwide.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Miracle: 20 Perfect Children

All these boys are considered "special needs." They are not collections of problems. All of them are exquisite and perfect the way they are.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Emmitt (+ What Makes a Successful Adoption)

Welcome to TWOB, or, if this is not your first visit, welcome back! 

I'm happy to report that Jack's mom has stated that Jack is now $3,273 closer to coming home due to your support of their August fundraiser! Jack's family is a little more than halfway to their total fundraising goal of $40,000! Please keep Jack and his family in your thoughts and prayers, and please keep an eye out for my upcoming fundraiser to help bring Jack home!

Today is Thankful Thursday, and in that tradition I would like to relate another tale about my thankfulness for my own sweet boy. Yesterday evening, as I was lying on the couch reading to my two younger kids, my oldest child appeared at the door carrying a fledgling bird. My nerdy child immediately sprang to the computer to read up on how to take care of an injured or ill wild bird. My son hovered around, cooing at the bird, asking lots of questions, and coming up with the name Gary for our new little friend. While I phoned some friends who run a wild animal sanctuary for advice, the three children created a nest for the bird in a curriculum box I had and gave it a capful of water. Unfortunately, yet predictably, the young bird was with us for only about 20 minutes before it died. All three children were very sad. My son, whose compassion is wide-ranging, helped my husband bury the bird in the backyard. When he came back in, he told me that he was glad that we had the chance to show the bird it was loved and valuable while it was still alive.

As I have mentioned before, my son has some behavioral and learning challenges that can be frustrating. But his sweetness, kindness, care, and concern for others is always evident. The children he meets love him. He is very popular on his hockey team and in our homeschool group. He is friendly and easy-going with his peers. Although my son still struggles with post-institutional issues, he is the nicest kid you will ever meet. My son is a fighter; through all his therapies and educational interventions and discipline trials, he struggles on, determined to have fun in life. He dreams of being a fire fighter (or a pirate) and adopting 5 (or 10) boys of his own. He recently realized that he won't actually be able to marry his sister, but he accepted this realization with maturity and has occasionally discussed potential suitable marriage partners (my 40-something, married friend from our homeschool group, who was the first and remains among the objects of my son's affection, has also, reluctantly, been ruled out).

I know I just spent a lot of time singing my son's praises. I do it for two reasons: one, because I am continually impressed with my son's ability to rise above his challenges and two, because I want you, my readers and friends, to understand that children can recover from early abuse/neglect/malnutrition and go on to have happy, loving lives.

I recently posted in an adoption forum, in a discussion of trolls and anti-adoption sentiment, that as adoptive parents we all wish and want to believe that all children can be healed from the wounds they received before they came to us, that all children can be redeemed from the tragedies they have suffered. I have been around the block enough in this world of adoption to know that not every adoption story has a white-picket-fence ending. Not every family lives the soft-focus Hallmark life. But I do know that many more families than not have had success in this venture of adoption, if you define success as loving relationships and children with vastly widened horizons and potential reached. Success in adoption is not defined by the absence of challenge or the absence of conflicted, tangled, messy feelings. It is not defined by looking just like the neighbors, looking just like a bio family, or not needing supplemental services, or having a child who astounds others with his progress. Success comes from children who otherwise wouldn't have experiencing the love of a family, receiving necessary medical and educational services, and reaching the potential that they were given in life.

We have struggled at times as an adoptive family. It hasn't always been easy. I am not insensitive to the thoughts and emotions my children have surrounding their adoptions and the tragedies that beget them. But like everyone, my children are learning that although the past will always be with us, it needn't define them and their lives. They are who they are because of what they make of their lives, not because of what life did to them way back when. We are a happy, silly, crazy, loving, imperfect adoptive family, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now I would like to introduce you to Emmitt. Emmitt is a child who is running out of time. He will turn 15 in January and, as you may be aware, if he is not adopted by the time he is 16, the window of opportunity will close for Emmitt, and he will, literally, spend the rest of his life in a crib. Emmitt lives in a mental institution, where he has already resided for years. He has spina bifida and a severe deformity of his legs, and he can't walk at all. Emmitt is described as "sweet, intelligent, and kind."

An adoptive family who met Emmitt had this to say about him: 

He is very friendly, funny, and talkative. He desperately seeks out attention. He was talking to my husband, and holding [his] hand, which he then put on top of his head for [him] to rub his hair. He is extremely intelligent, and just precious. I brought him paper and crayons, and he drew me a flower.

Here is a child who appears, incredibly, not to have been crushed by life in an institution. Emmitt desperately needs a family to provide him with the love, care, education, and stimulation he needs to live a life of purpose and not just waste away in a crib. Can you imagine being forced to sit in a crib all day, every day, and how stultifying and debilitating that would be? This is Emmitt's life. He deserves so much more.

Emmitt has $1705.50 in his adoption grant fund. He is available for adoption to older parents and to larger families as well as to younger parents with smaller families. Total adoption expenses will amount to approximately $25,000. You can help Emmitt by donating to increase his adoption grant fund, sharing his photo and information, and considering whether he has a place in your family.

Please also check out my post about Daniel and Colin. Both of these beautiful boys still wait.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Presley: What a Smile!

Hello, friends! I hope that everyone had a nice holiday weekend. Our family went camping at a music festival down in the hills. A bunch of friends went with us, and the weekend was full of dancing, swimming, hanging out, and being together. Being together is what it's all about.

Today I would like you to meet Presley. Presley turned four years old in March. He is described as a happy and affectionate child. Unfortunately, Presley suffers from leukemia. He has delays of psychological and motor development and crossed eyes.

Look at that smile! Presley looks like he's ready to dive right in to family life. This little guy needs all the love and care he can get, and he needs a family that will provide him with the best medical care possible.

It can be very scary to contemplate adopting a child with known medical issues. When we adopted our first child, we specified that we wanted a healthy child. We were youngish, rather inexperienced parents, and we didn't feel capable of meeting complex medical needs. Little did we know that our "healthy" child would have an array of special needs! After nearly 8 years, we are still dealing with continuing medical and developmental issues ... and honestly, I rarely bat an eye over it. My child is my child ... the needs are just part of who that child is, and meeting those needs is just part of what we do. I won't lie: sometimes it's annoying. Sometimes it's inconvenient. Sometimes it's costly. But I have never wished that we didn't have this child in our lives, and even with all these issues, this child is thriving and living life to the fullest.

Adopting older children, adopting traumatized children, adopting medically needy children ... this is not for everyone. I get that, and I am under no illusions that everyone has an obligation to adopt. But if you have ever considered it, if you have ever thought about it, if you have ever wondered whether you would be able to handle the needs of a post-institutionalized child, well, you have already opened the door a crack. I urge you to open it further by reading about adoption and attachment, talking with parents who have adopted children with special needs, discussing it with your spouse (should you have one), and contacting an agency about taking the first steps. These children need you, and I'm betting that you will find that you need them, too.


A while ago I wrote about Edward. I was pleased the other day to see that he has a new picture! What a handsome little guy! Please consider whether Edward has a place in your family!