Monday, March 28, 2011

Their turn...

A few days ago I had a dream that so accurately depicted how I’ve been feeling lately it was scary. I was back at the baby orphanage in Ukraine playing with some of my kids. There were also several sets of adoptive parents there playing with their children. When it was time to go, I found myself outside with all the parents and their children and together we began walking out those big metal gates for the last time.
Everyone had their children with them except me; I had to leave my kids behind.

I woke up with two very familiar questions running through my mind and heart – When will it be my turn?
And, more importantly, when is it their turn?

I truly rejoice every time I hear that another child has found a family but deep down in my heart the question remains, when is it their turn?



When is it this sweet boy’s turn? Time after time we would play together while hanging out with whatever adoptive family was there at the time. For weeks at a time we’d share the playground/visiting room together, he and I along with the adoptive parents and their little one who was often also from his group. Until the day that they disappeared along with his groupmate and it was just the two of us once again. Then one day I was the one who disappeared, leaving him and all the others behind. I’ve often wondered what went through his little mind when my face stopped appearing in the doorway to their room. He was smart and observant. He was catching on to the fact that I loved him and I think that maybe he was starting to love me too. He saw so many kids go home with their forever families, did he think he and I would be next?
Does he ever wonder when it’ll be his turn?

Last week I found out that one of my kids is not available for adoption. The little girl whose shouts screamed of her desperation for a father of her own will likely never get her turn. What about the rest of them? As far as I know, they still have a chance but their time is running out…
When is it their turn?

When is it their turn?

Monday, March 21, 2011

World Down Syndrome Day 2011

Today is World Down Syndrome Day and it has left me with a lot of thoughts and emotions running through my mind and heart… As I shared here, up until very recently I was afraid of Down syndrome. When there were other kids at camp with Down syndrome or whenever I saw someone with Down syndrome at the grocery store, at a restaurant, etc. I would do my best to avoid them. I wasn’t mean-spirited, I was just so awkward and uncomfortable around people with special needs that for some reason that I still don’t understand, I actually felt afraid. I am embarrassed, ashamed to admit that but I know that I am not the only one who has ever felt that way so I want to be honest.

God has been gradually changing my heart over the past couple of years, especially over the past six months, but it was only recently that I realized just how much He has changed me. A couple of months ago I read an article entitled, Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear? which discussed a new safe, fast and reliable prenatal test for Down syndrome which could lead to the extinction of Down syndrome altogether. Tears spilled from my eyes as I read the article, absolutely heartbroken. Of course I was heartbroken for the babies who would never have a chance at life but there was more to it than that. I was heartbroken for our society as a whole and all that we would be missing out on if we lived in a world without Down syndrome. Children and adults with Down syndrome are truly a gift from God. With their joy, their love, their compassion, their innocence they have so much to give, so much to teach us. Where would we as a society be if we “terminated” their existence in our world? The thought of it alone brings tears to my eyes.

A few days after the article came out, one mother of a beautiful little girl with Down syndrome posted a response: one hundred pictures speaking one hundred thousand words about the beauty and the value of these precious individuals with that one extra special chromosome. As I watched her video, I felt what was left of the wall around my heart shatter. Every remaining ounce of fear, discomfort, misunderstanding and prejudice washed away. I sat weeping in front of my computer, telling God how sorry I was for the times that I gotten it all wrong and begging Him for the privilege of parenting such a child. Yes, I was begging God for the privilege to be a mother to a child with Down syndrome. Just a few years ago, I was terrified at the thought of giving birth to child with Down syndrome or any other special need, convinced that I couldn’t “handle” something like that. Today, I can honestly say that I would be deeply disappointed if God never gives me a child with that extra special chromosome.

The ‘slogan’ so-to-speak for Reece’s Rainbow special needs adoption ministry is “Because every family deserves the blessing of a child with Down Syndrome…” The first time I read that I thought, “Wow, what a great slogan – cute, catchy and powerful…” Now, not only do I think that it’s cute, catchy and powerful… I believe it’s true.

I don’t know where you’re at today. Maybe you’ve always had a heart and a love for people with special needs and have never had any problems seeing them for the beautiful blessings that they are. Or maybe you’re like I once was, uncomfortable and even fearful for reasons you can’t explain. No matter who you are, I would like to invite you to watch Patti’s video below. Then, today, on World Down Syndrome Day, would you set aside a few minutes to pray? Pray for the children around the world who are waiting for families, despised and rejected simply because they have Down syndrome. Pray for the parents who will be told today that their baby or unborn child has Down syndrome and experience all the fear and uncertainty that come with such a diagnosis. Pray for the children and their families who are living with Down syndrome along with the stigma, ignorance and prejudice that they encounter on a regular basis. Last but not least, let’s pray for ourselves and the world that we live in, that God would open our eyes before its too late.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Presentation

I have finally set a date for a presentation about my latest missions experience. So, for those of you who are local, if you want to hear more stories and see more pictures from my time in Ukraine, I would love for you to join me...

Sunday, April 3rd @ 7:00 p.m.
Westview Bible Church - 16789 Pierrefonds Blvd
(corner of Pierrefonds & St. Charles Blvd)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Newsletter

For those of you not on my mailing list, if you are interested in reading my latest newsletter which I sent out last week, you can do so here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

My Andrey


There is someone right now advocating for one of my angels. Her name is Stephanie and she is doing what she can to find a family for my sweet, cuddly teddy bear – Andrey (N.B. The Andrey I am referring to is “Big Andrey”, not baby Andriy, one of my “littlest angels” who I shared about last week). Stephanie recently rescued two angels of her own, beautiful little boys who were physically and emotionally wasting away at their orphanage in Ukraine yet are now blossoming in her family. Like so many adoptive families (and volunteers), Stephanie’s heart broke for all the children she had to leave behind and she came home with a passion to help many, many more children find their forever families. She has advocated for many children, one precious child at a time, and right now that child is my Andrey.

Andrey is one of the only ones of my kids currently listed for adoption. When it comes to Andrey, on paper, it doesn’t look good... Down syndrome, strabismus (crossed eyes), congenital heart disease, significant delays, recent regression, possible reflux, probable symptomatic atlantoaxial instability (a condition which causes weakness in the neck), etc. But let me tell you what a medical file can’t – this little boy is pure love, an absolute joy to be around! He loves to be held and cuddled, to laugh and be tickled and if you spent some time playing with him you’d see that he has a personality and sense of humour all of his own. You’d also see that deep down, this little boy is motivated to learn and to grow. When I first met him it was clear that he had been slowly regressing. He could hardly even sit up on his own and could not/would not bare any weight on his legs, even with help. After just a month of spending time with him just one hour or so a week, he began pulling himself to a stand, first when he was with me, holding onto my hands and later on his own, using the side of the crib. The problem is, this little guy is smart, he has caught on to the fact that no one expects anything out of him, no one cares. He has no one to impress with his newly learned skills, no one to cheer him on when he reaches new milestones, and so he has simply stopped trying. Yet I see so much potential in him, he just needs to be given a chance.


Andrey is already 4-years-old. Sometime within the next year he will be transferred out of the baby orphanage. For the most part, I like the special needs orphanage that he will be transferred to but when it comes to Andrey, I am afraid. I am afraid that because he hardly sits up by himself, let alone stand, walk, etc., he will be transferred to one of those dreaded rooms on the second floor where he will spend the rest of his days bedridden and alone.

Andrey is running out of time. He needs a family. He is the only child with Down syndrome left at the baby orphanage orphanage that does not have a family. Despite the fact that he is the oldest and has been listed for a long time already, he continues to be passed over. Andrey needs a family and I believe that they are out there somewhere. Maybe it’s someone you know. Maybe it’s a friend of someone you know. Maybe it’s you.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video that Stephanie put together. Then click here to read about what she is doing to help find this sweet boy’s family and how you can help.


Addendum - I recently received an e-mail from someone asking about something they read on Andrey's Reece's Rainbow profile where his caregivers describe him as a child who "selectively comes into contact with adults". She was concerned that this description made him sound autistic on top of everything else and was worried about what message that might be sending to prospective adoptive parents.
Here was my response: "I think the better way to put it is that adults selectively (at best) come into contact with him... Andrey was in two different groups during the time that I was there and he was very much ignored by all the workers in each group. Most of them did not even know his name and whenever I asked for him I literally had to point so that they would know who I was talking about. The first time I met Andrey it took a little more to draw him out but he quickly warmed up to me and began initiating interaction and playfulness. I am by no means an expert but I can say that I did not observe any autistic tendencies during the time that I had with Andrey. Based on my observations, he is a sweet little boy who is open and ready to give and receive all the love he can."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Missing my babies...

It has been one month since I had to say goodbye to my kids at the baby orphanage and oh,
how my arms are aching to hold these precious little ones again...

Bogdan... My best boy

Igor... My heart

Denis... My angel boy

Andrey... My big teddy bear


Aloysha... My little snuggle bug


Dasha and Andriy... My littlest angels (one of whom is now nestled in the arms of her Heavenly Father)