Sunday, July 31, 2011

God knows all about her

Carina is 3, so this is obviously not an up-to-date picture:

She's a girl. She was born in April 2008. She is described as calm. And that's more words than there are in her profile.

Maybe that's enough. Maybe there's more information if you inquire.

Or maybe Carina's baby picture and the nine words in her profile are all anyone will ever know. Maybe she will be forgotten. With a sparse profile and no updates... will anyone fight for Carina? Will someone pick her picture out of a crowd and bring her home, sad face and all? Is she any less precious because less information is available, her picture isn't updated, and she wouldn't smile for the camera?

God is watching over Carina. He sees her and knows her and cares for her. But she needs parents to do that for her too.

Don't let Carina be forgotten

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Every little boy and girl needs a family

I plan on taking an internet break, but I will set up some blogs to come out in the next few days first. I think I've exhausted the children I feel a special connection to, but they are all so sweet, so cute, and deserve a family of their own. Every time I look at the Reece's Rainbow waiting children, different faces stand out to me. So I am just going to keep sharing their sweet faces and what I know of their stories...

This is Jonas.

Jonas is a friendly, affectionate 3-year-old boy. Look at that sweet smile! He is said to be emotional and engaged with his caregivers, which means a lower risk of attachment problems. Jonas lives in Russia and it would be possible for a single mom to adopt him, or a mommy and daddy. Right now he has no parents. It looks and sounds like he is in a fairly "good" orphanage now, but it's still an orphanage. Sometime between 4 and 6, he will lose those caregivers he is now attached to and be sent to a mental institution. I'm sure some institutions are better than others, but I don't know if there is a "good" mental institution for a 5-year-old. And sometimes little girls and boys from "good" baby homes end up in not-so-good institutions. I hope someone brings this sweet guy home. The good place he's in now means that he has an excellent chance at bonding well with a new family, but please don't leave him because he's in a good place. He needs a home and a family!

Friday, July 29, 2011

God's image

Yesterday's post was kind of complicated, so today I just give you Owen. Owen looks different from most kids. He has Saethre-Chotzen Syndrome, which is responsible for his differently shaped skull, among other challenges. Owen is badly in need of excellent medical care. He is only 3 years old and looks like he has a lot of personality.

He may look different from most people, but he is created in the image of God. That's right--he looks just like his Daddy. If you do, too, maybe you're his parents.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Russia is full of Teri Lynns

Teri Lynn's before-and-after photos from her transfer to a mental institution caught the hearts of the blogosphere.
Teri Lynn before transfer, at the baby house:

Teri Lynn just 3 weeks after her transfer to a mental institution:

It's hard to believe both pictures are of the same little girl.
The upside of the story was that within a week of these pictures being posted, Teri Lynn had a full grant of over $20,000 dollars. This will not completely cover the cost of her adoption, but it will be a huge help to the family that adopts her.

With all the attention I am surprised no one has committed to her yet. To commit to an institutionalized child on Reece's Rainbow, a family must have their home study ready--but several inquiries about her were from home-study-ready families. She's inspired some to start the adoption process. Maybe she is still waiting because she's your daughter. But even if Teri Lynn's family steps forward, Russia is full of Teri Lynns.

In Teri Lynn's region, Nadya is waiting for a family. She is two and will face transfer one day if she is not adopted.

April and Veronica, 6 and 7 years old, have probably already been transferred.

is 4 and may face transfer soon.

Elsewhere in Russia...
Alice, 5, has a $6,000 grant.

Cora Lynne, 4 1/2, is facing transfer.

Robyn, only 4 years old, is likely already in a mental institution.

Celine is facing transfer. Will she need to become another Teri Lynn before anyone will commit to her?

Jillian is 5 and loves to learn; she will be institutionalized soon.

These are just a few. Teri Lynn wasn't the first little girl this happened to, and she probably won't be the last. But maybe you can make sure Ksenia, or Alice, or Cora Lynne, or Celine, or Jillian is not one of them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Advocating for kids with special needs

Sometimes, when you look through a huge list of children, it's hard to personally remember each one. You see one or two who stick out to you, and the rest fade into the background of "other kids." It doesn't mean they aren't important, or that you won't be happy when someone chooses them, but you can't advocate for every one of them. That's why Reece's Rainbow has prayer warriors, orphan warriors, and others who advocate for a specific child. Kids are showing up daily on the "My Family Found Me" page. I was thrilled when Harry and Ras and Oleg were found; I was excited when Patrick was found. I was happy for Landon, Ella, and Shane too... but I didn't really remember them. And it's worth noting that Oleg was not a child I had really taken to the first time around, but one a friend had noticed... and because he was her favorite, he became one that I watched too.

So when you see one of these children that particularly touches you, show people their picture. Post them on facebook. Don't just say "They're on RR, people will see them there." Kids get lost in the crowd on huge photolistings, but if you present them one at a time, people notice them. That's why I try to do just one (or sometimes a few) at a time--on FaceBook (I'm Jessica Jane Cooper), on Twitter (I'm GlorifyHisSon), and other places I go (sometimes I'm Young Christian Woman... don't know how much longer I can use that one though ;). I try to pick different kids, but when someone says to me, "Look at this guy. He's special." I notice him. I remember him. Even if I never pass on that picture, I rejoice a little more when I see they have a family coming for them. And maybe if you pass on that picture of Vanessa, or Sammy, or Peter, even if they don't find their family, someone will go to Reece's Rainbow and fall in love with a different child. (And, yeah, I linked to a whole bunch of profiles... each link is for a different kid... you don't have to click on them.)

Yesterday someone posted on the (private) RR message boards about two little boys. One was Max:

Max will turn 2 in November. Look at the personality in this little guy! He totally needs a home. I can't believe he didn't stand out to me. But he didn't. I've probably looked at his picture before--briefly--but I didn't remember Max. But if you're reading this, you'll remember Max. And if you post Max on facebook, your facebook friends are going to remember Max. Especially if he's the only little kid from Russia you ever post to facebook. Especially if Max's mommy or daddy happens to read it. So if you browse the photo listings and see someone who stands out to you, go ahead and pass the picture on. Not everyone who goes to the HIV 0-5 waiting kids page on RR is going to fall in love with Max. He's not going to stick out to each person that goes there the same way. But Max is special! They are all special.

I also pray for every child when someone asks. So today I ask you to say a prayer for Max. Pray that he will find his family.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A lot of people hope to adopt siblings... if our little girl had a brother or sister available for adoption you could bet we'd try to bring that little one home too. These two brothers are so cute:

Ras (3) and Harry (2) live in Russia... and as I was typing this post I realized that they have been FOUND! Harry and Ras already have a family! Praise God. Pray that their adoption goes quickly and smoothly.

Well then... how about Samantha and Kristina, 6 and 5 year old sisters?
Samantha, 6:

Samantha has an intellectual disability and crossed eyes, but she is active and friendly and will do very well in a family.

Kristina, 5:

Kristina is considered delayed, but this may be an ordinary orphanage delay. They say a big bow is a sign that a little girl is an orphanage favorite :) Kristina is friendly and helpful.

The costs and travel are not as bad as I would have expected for these two... and these precious girls still need a family! I know they have a lot of people praying for their family to step forward.

As far as our adoption goes, it sounds like we still have not sorted out all the issues with our adoption being independent and not having a placing agency... please pray we can get this resolved and move on towards adopting our daughter!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I just like their names

Lindsey and Rebekah happen to have the same names as members of my family. Plus they are adorable :)

I hope these little girls find their family... and if you want to donate to their grant, it could help them on their way. They happen to be in the same region, which is open to large families (up to 8 kids), older parents (up to 60), and has lower costs for Russia ($28,000). A single mom could adopt from this region too. I'm not sure if unrelated children could be adopted together, but they are also in the same region as Juliet. Both of these girls have an empty grant, but when people pull together, large grants can quickly be gathered--one girl, Teri Lynn, accumulated a grant of over 20,000 in only a week. Lindsey, Rebekah, and Juliet (and Teri Lynn) all have Down Syndrome.

Lindsey is shy. She is almost 5, which may mean she will be transferred to an institution soon. Every little girl deserves a family! Pray that Lindsey would have that opportunity soon.

Rebekah is such a chunky little girl! She's 1 1/2, just a month younger than my son, and you can tell she's not malnourished. Rebekah needs and deserves the love of a family. She's described as quiet and smiley.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three blond boys

Today I want to introduce three special little boys with Down Syndrome. They are special because they happen to look somewhat like my boy. I by no means am looking for a "perfect child" with blond hair and blue eyes--that just happens to be what my own sweet boy looks like--we considered adopting from Ethiopia and the little girl we want to commit to has darker hair. These three are certainly cuties though; maybe you will fall in love with your son :)

In addition to the many children who have full profiles on Reece's Rainbow, in some regions of Russia there are "additional children." These children have a little bit of information and a picture but no medical information. If someone falls in love with one of these kids, they can commit to adopt the child, but these additional children don't have their own page because full medical information is not available. Peter is one of the additional children in Region 23. You can find him about halfway down (but feel free to look through all those other sweet faces too). He not only looks like my boy but has the same name too. Peter could be adopted by parents 48 or under. He is in the same region as Sammy, but they cannot be adopted together. Can you picture Peter trying to climb your bookcases?

Andrew is almost 4 and has Down Syndrome. He lives in Russia and could be adopted by a single mom or an "older" couple (I don't know the exact age limits). Isn't he adorable? Can you see him driving a truck around your living room?

Kyle will turn 5 in November. He is in the same region of Russia as Andrew, but that region does not allow the adoption of multiple unrelated children. He reminds me of a boy, and something about his face also reminds me of my cousins--but my kids reminded me of them when they were first born too. He looks like a sweet kid--I bet he'd love learning to play catch with his daddy.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A little boy who needs a family

Shaun has Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome. This has been thought of as a fatal disease in the past, but as medical science advances, research shows that more children with this genetic difference are surviving longer. Shaun needs and deserves a family so that he can live up to his potential! The fact that he has lived as long as he has in an orphanage setting is very promising for him.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The institutions these kids get sent to are not good.

These are some pictures I saw yesterday... they are just awful. The first picture is Dakota's picture from Reece's Rainbow. The others are from an organization called "His Kids Too" which ministered in Dakota's "home" last summer. Dakota is 8.

Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 5

We are the body of Christ.

What would Jesus have you do to help Dakota?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another sweet girl

This sweet 2-year-old girl is Xenia. She lives in Russia and she doesn't have a mommy and daddy. She needs parents who will bring her home, love her, and take care of her. This sweet little girl has been listed a long time and no one has come for her. Don't you wish you could see that sweet little face every morning? That she would light up when you came into the room, snuggle with you and read a story at night, and throw tantrums when you burn her hot dogs? :) She really needs to get moving because she has low muscle tone--she probably barely gets out of a crib.

Now that you're in love with this sweetie, I'll tell you why she's still waiting: the reason why no one will adopt Xenia is that she (probably) has a retinoblastoma--an eye cancer. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has a lot of experience with this cancer, and it has a 95% cure rate... but no one knows if Xenia is being treated or even has access to pain medication. If you are local to me, Xenia could also receive treatment in Boston. She can beat this disease if she gets medical treatment. She needs to be adopted!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adoption can save lives

You shouldn't adopt just to save a child. You shouldn't adopt unless you want to add a child to your family, to have a new son or daughter for the rest of your life. But there are children who do not get the medical care they need in their countries.

This is Vanessa. Her Reece's Rainbow file simply says that she has a heart condition and needs a family quickly. I don't know what kind of medical care she will get in her country (though many children with Down Syndrome do have heart defects repaired in their home countries). But having a loving family and excellent medical care is huge for these kids.

Other kids may have brain damage because they do not get needed surgeries for Apert Syndrome or hydrocephalus. Many times, a child may have a food allergy and not get the special diet they need (and if you know me, you probably know my little guy has a milk allergy... and I can tell you that getting a special diet has made a huge difference to his health!) There is so much that a family can do to care and advocate for a special child, but an orphanage cannot. Every one of these kids will be better off with a family of their own... and for some of them it may save their lives.

Would you be willing to bring Vanessa home, be her mommy, and make sure she gets the care she needs? Do you want those two big blue eyes, that wispy blonde hair, and a big smile in your house? Vanessa is two and she needs a mommy and daddy. She's not my daughter. Maybe she's yours.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time for an adoption update....

I plan to keep featuring Reece's Rainbow's waiting children, but I thought I would share where we are in the adoption process....

Yesterday, we submitted our formal application! We got our application returned to us over a week ago because we needed more information on the "placing agency." It took a while to get this sorted out because we don't have a placing agency; we will have a helper from Reece's Rainbow and a facilitator in our new child's country. After verifying with Reece's Rainbow that our information was accurate, and with our social worker that it was sufficient, we sent back our application. Hopefully this means we can get started on our home study soon!

Previously our girl's country had been completely closed to adoption with the shutdown expected to end in October, but it was recently announced that children with special needs on a certain list could continue to be adopted... we are blessed that our girl's special need is on that list. So there is nothing to stop us from proceeding with our adoption on that side.

If you want to pray for us on the US side... we could use prayer that:
our hearts would be prepared to be our daughter's parents
the home study would go quickly
we would get our house cleaned up for the home study (making a lot of progress here, but there's still a lot to be done).

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another favorite from RR...

My daughter's favorite :)

Juliet is my 3-year-old's favorite on Reece's Rainbow, and it's easy to see why--she's a cute little baby, and also happens to have a name close to that of one of my daughter's friends.

It's possible to adopt very young children internationally--Juliet's family could bring her home by her first birthday if they start quickly! This sweet little girl would have a huge advantage in terms of early therapy, attachment, language learning, and of course having a family from a young age if that were to happen!

Reece's Rainbow also has several other listings for babies with Down Syndrome under 6 months old--one little girl, Elaina, just found her family through Reece's Rainbow before she was 3 months old!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reece's Rainbow is helping kids find their families....

This sweet little guy is Dmitriy. There is a family working to bring him home--but they can't officially commit to him yet (no, it's not us :)

Dmitriy is a very special little boy and I am sure he will bring his family so much joy... please join me in praying for Dmitriy's family to complete their homestudy quickly so that they can officially commit, and praying that he would be able to go home quickly! I have done some research on adopting children who are blind and it's not unmanageable; children who are blind need more help to engage the world, and they need toys and an environment that stimulates their other senses, but they are capable of growing up to lead independent lives.

I know that so far all of the kids that I've posted have been boys, and we are adopting a little girl. I guess that's just one of the funny things about how God works... but tomorrow I will feature a sweet little girl who is also not my daughter.

Reece's Rainbow does have other children with visual impairments who need homes, like Jeanne... and some others who are being adopted, like sweet Andriy!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Another sweet little boy

On Reece's Rainbow this little boy is called Dewey.

He has a droopy eyelid... and he also is HIV+.

HIV sounds scary. But when I first started thinking about adoption, it was because of a sibling group of 3, and the youngest of the three was HIV+. So I did some research.

I found out that HIV was no longer fatal. It doesn't develop into AIDS so long as the carriers get proper medical treatment. So Dewey isn't at all doomed to die from AIDS--in fact, he can live a normal lifespan. It is very important that kids with HIV get their medicines at the correct time, but if they do, they can stay very healthy.

I found out that HIV did not spread in families. I already knew casual contact didn't spread the virus--that you couldn't get it from close-mouthed kissing, or hugs, or food prepared by a person who is HIV+--but I had heard it did spread through bodily fluids. But here are the statistics on HIV spreading in families: it doesn't happen. It's spread through sexual contact and dirty needles. That's it. There are no recorded cases of HIV spreading in normal family life since antiretrovirals (HIV drugs) were introduced. The drugs can drive the levels of HIV in a person's blood so low they cannot be detected, and the virus dies quickly outside the body... and it just isn't transmitted between parents and children or between siblings. Not when they swim together; not when they brush their teeth; not when they bleed at the same time.

If you are looking to adopt a child with special needs that won't change the way you live your life, consider adopting a child with HIV. There is a great need for homes for children who are HIV+, even kids with no cognitive or physical disabilities.

Here are some more sites to learn about adopting kids who are HIV+:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Another precious little boy

This sweet little boy is Valentin. He has cerebral palsy, but he can stand--and I'm betting with a mommy and daddy and physical therapy, he'd be walking in no time. Soon, though, he will be transferred to an institution where he might never have a chance to try.

He's pretty smart from his description--probably not cognitively affected by his disability. In the adoption world, 5 is old--but maybe that's a blessing, because it means that, while many kids in his country are in limbo, Valentin is still available for adoption because he's an older child. He makes me wish we could just bring them all home (as does the little boy I'll be posting about tomorrow).

Valentin would have so much potential here--but unless attitudes toward people with disabilities change in his home country, if he is not adopted, he won't have any potential. He will spend his life in a bed. I think he deserves better--I think they all do.

Children over 5 are usually not adopted. Boys are even less likely to adopted over 5. Kids with special needs are less likely to be adopted than "typical" children. Do you think you could give Valentin a chance? If you are thinking about it, you might be the only one who is.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

One of my favorite little guys on RR

This is Sammy:

I think he's one of the most precious kids on Reece's Rainbow! He's just 4 months younger than my daughter, almost 3. He has Apert Syndrome, which means he will likely need surgeries on his face as he gets older, and will need surgeries on his hands if he hasn't had them yet, and possibly his feet. This adorable little redhead needs a mommy to hold him through all of that, and a daddy to play with him while he gets better, and siblings to draw him pictures to hang in his hospital room while he recovers. Imagine having to go through all that alone....

I really hope someone else looks at Sammy and wants to be his mom!

All the kids I am not adopting

Over the next couple weeks, since I can't say much about the girl I hope is my daughter, I want to introduce some little boys and girls (mostly boys, actually) that I'm not adopting.

I don't know why, but it seems to be the boys who tug on my heart more.

I can't adopt all the kids who need a home. I can't even adopt all the kids who seem special to me, and I can't adopt all the kids who really need a family badly. But maybe I can help them find their own mommies and daddies. Three kids I've posted links to (Anthony, Eddie, and Elaina) have found families, though not due to my posts.

Today I want to introduce you to Josiah.

Josiah is 7 years old. He has been transferred to a mental institution because he has Down Syndrome. Seven seems old for someone considering adoption, but Josiah has so much of his life ahead of him--if he is adopted. If he is not adopted, he will be in the institution for all his life, barring major changes in the way his country of origin views people with special needs. And Josiah isn't doing well in the institution: losing weight. Regressing. If he had a mommy and daddy in the US, he could be learning in school, learning about being in a family, and preparing for a life filled with possibility. But first someone will have to step out in faith and say "That little boy is my son."

Many of the kids featured on Reece's Rainbow are in poor situations, but it sounds like Josiah really needs a family fast. I am praying his Mommy and Daddy come for him!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Beginning the process

I am a 28-year-old stay-at-home mom in Massachusetts. My husband, also 28, is a senior software engineer, town moderator, and level 2 Magic: the Gathering judge. We have a "perfect" house (on the outside at least), live in a beautiful neighborhood on about 40 acres of wooded land, and we have the "perfect" family--a 3-year-old girl and a 1-1/2-year-old boy. We also follow a Risen Lord who really is perfect.

In the years between our decision to add a child to our family and our daughter's birth, my husband and I learned that God's plan for our family does not always match ours. For a long time our hopes and prayers for a son or daughter went unanswered. Shortly after we started the process to adopt a healthy infant in the US, we discovered we were pregnant. We were delighted to become biological parents to a daughter, and then a son. Within hours of discovering our second child's gender, the congratulations on having a "perfect little family" started. I've always wanted a big family, though--two kids isn't my idea of perfect. I wanted brothers for my son, sisters for my daughter, and sisters for my son and brothers for my daughter.

It seems, though, that like when we were waiting for our firstborn, and like when we first started the adoption process, God again has plans that are different from ours. I believe God is calling our family to adopt. Now that we have some parenting experience under our belts, we don't feel like we need a baby or a child who is perfect in the eyes of the world. We feel that our family could--and should--be enriched by the addition of a child or children with special needs.

We have decided that an independent adoption of a child or children with special needs is the best fit for our family. Three times I have felt called to a child--first to a sibling group of 3, second to a boy with genetic and craniofacial differences, and third to a little girl. The first two times, God closed the door. But we are hopeful the little girl who God has put in my heart will be our daughter.

At this point in time we can't publicly say much about the little girl we are hoping will become our daughter. If we can't complete the adoption, we don't want her to be on hold and other families not to be considering her. In her country, as elsewhere in Eastern Europe, children with special needs are often placed in adult mental institutions between 3 and 6 years old. Often they do not survive long there. She is listed on Reece's Rainbow, which specializes in finding homes for children with Down Syndrome, and also helps connects children with HIV and other special needs with families who want children. So feel free to take a look around and guess (and maybe fall in love yourself), but we won't be able to tell until our home study is complete. Except for you two who figured it out. And you two that I told. And you that I told. And her, but she won't bother reading this.

New beginnings happen every day. We are at the very beginning of our adoption process--about to submit our application for a home study. We hope this is going to be a new beginning for a certain special little girl too!