Thursday, January 31, 2013

Forty Days to Forever!

Hello, friends! Thanks for stopping by! Today I will introduce you to a unique fundraiser that will benefit not just one or two but forty (that's right, FORTY) orphaned children!



You may have noticed this button that has been in the top right sidebar of my blog for a few weeks now. If you click on it, you will be taken to the Forty Days to Forever website.

The premise of that fundraiser is that one waiting child or adopting family will be featured every day for each of the forty days of Lent. Each day, you will have the opportunity to read about the child or family and enter to win the giveaway, which has not just one prize but forty ... + a mystery grand prize that will be revealed on February 13th!



The fundraiser will benefit a little girl named Lina who lives in an Eastern European orphanage. Lina has severe medical needs and is not faring well in the orphanage. A family that has a particular interest in Lina's welfare but which cannot adopt her now has organized the Forty Days to Forever fundraiser to help raise money for Lina's adoption grant and to spread the word about her in hopes of finding her a family.



The fundraiser will also benefit this boy, who, if you have visited my blog before, you will recognize as Jason! Despite my advocating for him, Jason's grant has remained small. But this fundraiser is an opportunity to raise $400 or more for Jason's grant! Sweet Jason, isolated in a "laying down room" in a remote corner of the world ... every penny helps bring him closer to a family!

The fundraiser will also benefit 39 other children and families whom you can read about by visiting the Forty Days to Forever website.

Every day for forty days, a waiting child or adoptive family will be featured along with a giveaway prize for that day. To enter the giveaway, you need to donate to two children: Lina, the guest of honor, and the child being featured that day. Twenty percent of your donation must go to Lina to be entered into the giveaway. For example, if you donate $20, $4 of that must go to Lina and the other $16 to the day's featured child. You will then need to email the Forty Days to Forever website with your donation receipt to be entered into the drawing. All donations will be made via Reece's Rainbow grant pages and are tax-deductible.

Sound confusing? You can check out the FAQ page to read more about it. The main thing to remember is that your donation will help not only Lina but also the day's featured child; you can come back every day and donate if you like, and every donation enters you into that day's giveaway AND the grand prize drawing.



Jason will be the featured child on Wednesday, March 6th. Please visit the Forty Days to Forever website that day to make a donation to Jason and be entered into the drawings! You can also donate to Jason at any time during the 40 days to be entered into the grand prize drawing. Just remember to earmark 20% of your donation for Lina.

If you celebrate Lent as a part of your religious tradition, you can go here to read about the Lenten Journey component of the fundraiser. You can read here about other ways to help the fundraiser.




Please join with me to help not just Lina and Jason but the many waiting children who will be featured during the Lenten season!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Sharin' Darren Giveaway!

Welcome, friends! Today I would like to alert you to an opportunity to help a little boy in great need as well as possibly win a great prize!


Darren is a little boy who is just five years old. He has lived in a baby house where he has been taken care of well, but because he turned five, his time was up. It was time for transfer to an institution.


Because several people who had met Darren cared a lot about him, they director of the baby house was persuaded to allow Darren to remain for another six months. The clock is ticking. He now has just over five months to remain in the baby house before he is sent away.


Darren is "significantly delayed" in his cognitive and physical development. However, TeamWorks Ukraine, a group of physical, speech, and occupational therapists, has visited Darren's orphanage and worked with him. One of the therapists reports:

This little boy was one of the first children I held in my arms on my first TEAMWorks trip to Ukraine in 2010. Since then, we have watched him grow and change, and become stronger, take steps in a walker, sit contentedly in a chair, reach for toys, and make sounds.

Darren has great potential for progress!


Another therapist who is also an adoptive parent has this to say about Darren:

He is gentle with others. When he is upset or overwhelmed, he often does 'self-stim' movements such as hand writhing or vocalizations. He listens and follows very basic directions from his caregivers. I have also observed him to be content to sit still and people watch as well as engage in quiet, exploratory play on their small jungle gym. He walks with just a little bit of help.

I have noted a developmental delay in all areas which is a natural occurrence with a child who has either congenital or environmental trauma to his central nervous system and has been institutionalized.

Darren is affectionate. He would love to have a mother and a father. I'm sure he would also adore any siblings from what I saw of his interaction with others in his room.


As you can see from this picture, Darren is both affectionate and compassionate. He used the rails of the playpen to help him walk over to this child and gently pat her head and stroke her back.

But Darren's time is running out. He needs a family to come for him before he is transferred. He needs a family to come for him before he winds up in a place where his potential for a loving, happy life is forever blighted.


And that is where the Sharin' Darren Giveaway comes in! A Facebook page has been created in hopes of bringing attention to this small boy whose need is so great. In order to qualify to win the $100 prepaid MasterCard, you need to do one or more of the following:

~Share this page, Darren's Reece's Rainbow profile (http://reecesrainbow.org/439/darren405) or someone else's blog post about him via social media and comment here to receive one entry
~Blog about Darren yourself and comment here and receive 5 entries
~Be creative and find some other way to share Darren's story, comment here and receive a number of entries TBD based on the uniqueness and ambition of your efforts. 

Begins: Monday, January 28th 
Ends: Thursday, February 28th.

A winner will be chosen using Random.org on Friday, March 1st.


That's it! It's completely free to enter, and your efforts will help Darren so much!

Please don't forget about this little boy who is truly living on borrowed time!

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting Wednesday ... Times 3!

Welcome, friends! Thanks for coming back to see what's up at TWOB! I have a real treat for you today.

My blog focuses on special-needs boys ... mainly because my own boy has special needs (in fact, both of the children we adopted do), and I want to show the world that boys with special needs are precious, amazing beings who can enrich a family's life so much.

The boys I am sharing with you today do not have any special medical or developmental needs. They are what is referred to in the adoption world as "typical" kids. But they do, in fact, have several special needs. 



First, they are boys. The majority of adoptive families seek girls. Second, they are older. The definition of "older" varies, but generally, once a child (especially a boy) is over 2, that child is considered "older," and older children (especially older boys) wait the longest for a family. And lastly, there are three of them! That's right, a ready-made sibling group of three beautiful boys!

Please meet ...


Vitya

Vova

Misha

Victor (Vitya) is turning 16 this year. He is running out of time for a family. He is a quiet boy who likes sports and watches out for his younger brothers.

Vladimir (Vova) turns 14 this year. Vova is a good student who has good communication skills and takes other people's opinions into account.

Mikhail (Misha) will be 7 this year. He is described as "lively, bold, and very sociable." Misha can make you smile!


These brothers are lucky enough to be living together in the same orphanage. But that may not last long. The boys live in Eastern Europe, and it is not uncommon where they live for children to "graduate" from the orphanage when they turn 16. If this happens to Vitya, he will find himself not only separated from the brothers he loves but also potentially with nowhere to go, nowhere to live, and no means to support himself.

My oldest child is a young adult. We still provide her with the love, care, and support that every young person needs as they launch into their adult life. Sixteen years old is too young to do this on your own. Sixteen year old boys still need mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins to love them. Sixteen year old boys, and all boys, need families. No one outgrows the need for a family, ever.

Vitya, Vova, and Misha have three strikes against them. Their time to be adopted together and continue to live as brothers is growing short. Are these boys your boys? Can you share their information in hopes that their family will see it?

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


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wonderful Wilson! (+ How Adoption Transforms Lives)


Today I would like to introduce you to Wilson. Wilson turned 6 years old in November. He is HIV+. Not much is known about Wilson other than that he was cleared for adoption this past summer. But look at those brown eyes! And those sweet, big ears! And his serious expression ... Wilson looks like he has a lot on his mind.

And he would, being a child with a serious medical condition in a country that will turn him out on the streets when he is still a young person. 

I have visited many orphanages. Some were clean and well-run. Some were in disrepair and it was the clear that the children ran wild. We don't know what type of orphanage Wilson lives in. Hopefully he is in a clean facility with people he knows and trusts and who care about him, even if they are only paid employees and not family. Even paid employees can love the children they care for.

But it's still not a family. Nothing takes the place of a family. Visiting orphanages and seeing happy children run and play, excited that they have a visitor, can give you the false impression that all is well. 

But it's just that: a false impression. Young children don't spend a lot of time ruminating on their lives, but even very young children keenly feel the lack of a mother and a father, someone who loves them first and best. Orphanages by day can be loud, action-packed places and the kids can look happy. But orphanages at night are a very different place.

Orphanages at night are places where children cry themselves to sleep. They rock themselves to sleep, sometimes banging their heads rhythmically in an effort to both self-stimulate and self-soothe. Orphanages at night are places where children keenly feel the fact that they are alone in the world, that it is likely that, should they have a nightmare, no one will come to comfort them. No one will bring them a drink of water when they are thirsty. No one will shoo the monsters out from under the bed. Orphanages at night are places of squandered dreams and lost hope.

My son was young, still a preschooler, when he came to us. He lived, when we adopted him, in a relatively small group home run by our adoption agency. He had lived there nearly a year and had experienced love and care while there. Indeed, he was pampered to the point that, when the nannies took clothes for him from the towering wall stacked with shirts, pants, underwear, and socks, my son would sometimes shake his head, rejecting their choices, and point regally to the clothes he desired to wear. My son was not left for hours in dirty diapers, and he was fed a nutritionally adequate diet (this was all in the adoption agency's group home, remember ... the huge institution he lived in before coming to the group home was a completely different environment).

But still ... our son was so insecure, so anxious to be loved, so desperate to be someone's son, that whenever a visitor arrived at the orphanage, my son would run full-speed to that person and cling to them, whining to be picked up. And once he was picked up, he would not get down for anything. He locked his little legs around the person holding him, wrapped his arms around the person's neck, and held on for dear life. If you tried to extricate yourself from his grasp, he would scream, kick, headbutt, pull hair ... anything to keep you from putting him down. His need for human contact and love was so huge that it literally terrified him to be put down and left behind. 

Even to this day, many years later, my son still seeks frequent confirmation of our love for him. The lack of a mom and a dad in his early years has had long-lasting effects.

However, he is a kind, sweet, gentle boy who has a friendly word for everyone and a large well of compassion for animals.

These children's lives are transformed by adoption, transformed by entering a family, transformed by belonging to someone and being that person or family's very own best-loved child.

Every child desires this, and every child deserves this.

Please help Wilson by donating to his (small) adoption grant. Please help Wilson by sharing his photo and information. Wilson's birthday is in November. He could potentially celebrate turning seven in the arms of his loving forever family!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday: Max

Hello, and welcome to the latest edition of Thankful Thursday!

As always, I will begin with something I am thankful for with regard to my son. I am thankful that, despite the learning challenges that are a lingering reminder of the malnutrition and neglect that he suffered before he came to us, my son works hard at his schoolwork and always has something clever to say about what he's learning. For example, today we were reading about the Assyrians. Although my son kept referring to Hammurabi as an Assyrian (for the record, he was a Babylonian), our reading did remind us of a long-ago Assyrian who is both famous and well-loved in our home (that's right, we have a favorite Mesopotamian!): Ashurbanipal. For those not in the know, Ashurbanipal is credited with establishing the first library. My son announced to me, "When I grow up, if I ever start a library, I'm going to call it the Ashurbanipal Branch Library!" Kudos to my son and his irrepressible spirit. No matter the challenges he has and continues to face, he always bounces back and is ready to plow forward.



Today I would like to introduce you to Max. Max will turn fifteen this year, and is his story is heartbreaking. Max is a smart, attractive boy who is a very good actor. He also has a beautiful singing voice. However, Max has strabismus in one eye and a slight limp (possibly due to a back issue), and he is therefore teased and picked on by the children where he lives.  Other children push him down. Max is very unhappy with his living situation and, when a hosting organization interviewed him, he said, "Please get me out of here. I hate it here."



Every day, Max asks the director of his school whether a family has come for him. He has been eligible for hosting, but no family has ever chosen him.



Max is running out of time. Because he will turn 15 this year, he is close to aging out of the system. Max needs a family!




You can read more about Max here and here. Both were written by people who have met and spent time with Max.



If you are interested in Max, please feel free to send me a message. I can put you in touch with several people who know Max and can tell you more about him. Also, please donate to increase Max's grant fund and share Max's photo and information. Let's find this boy a family!

Monday, January 14, 2013

First Post of the New Year

Welcome back to TWOB! It's been a few weeks since I have blogged. We had family visiting over the holidays and the obligatory "everyone in the family get sick and pass it around to everyone else" January bug. But we're all on the mend and settling back into our 2013 routine of work, studying, and hockey!

As you may have noticed, I keep a running list on the side of my blog of the boys I have blogged about who have been found. I am happy to report that in the 8 months since I started my blog, TWENTY-SIX boys have been found! Some are home and some are still waiting for their families to bring them home, but all are blessed to have a ticket out of the orphanage or institution in which they resided.



Speaking of the kids still waiting for their families to arrive, if you have been following the news you are undoubtedly aware of the recently enacted ban on Americans adopting Russian kids. Today in Moscow there was a huge March Against Scoundrels staged by Russians who are asking their government to repeal the ban. I am very glad to see that the Russian people view their children as more than mere pawns in a political tit-for-tat.



Jack's family recently met Elliot while he was being hosted here in the States! Unfortunately, he was too far away for me to travel to meet him, but Jack's mom and dad got to spend an entire afternoon with Elliot at Chuck-E-Cheese! Head on over to 1000 Loving Jack to read about their experience! Elliot's grant is now at an astounding $5952! Several families have expressed interest in adopting Elliot, but as of yet I have not heard that he has a committed family. Please keep spreading the word about this amazing little boy!


           

I have been lucky enough to continue to receive pictures and video of sweet Jason. The caregivers at his institution have been trying to ensure that he has more time out of his crib, more time to explore his world, move around, interact, and benefit from stimulation. Unfortunately, Jason's grant is still disappointingly low at just $435. This beautiful boy, who perseveres against the odds and has such incredible spirit, desperately needs a family and the benefit love, medical care, therapy, and education. Please consider donating to increase Jason's grant. 


Thanks for visiting TWOB! I wish you happiness and health in the coming year!