Friday, September 30, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Victoria



Thanks to Natalie, I have new pictures of Victoria to share with you (you can read my previous posts about Victoria here and here).


Isn’t she darling with her long ponytails? Little Vika is growing into such a beautiful young girl, still feisty and full of spunk.
And doesn’t she have just the best laugh?



Vika’s speech has improved since the last time I saw her and, as you can see in the video above,
she is even beginning to recite little songs and poems.


May I remind you however that Vika has only two years left in the orphanage for preschool-aged children; a place where she is loved and cared for and given the opportunity to learn. Once she turns eight-years-old, Vika will be transferred to an institution. Vika may be blind and developmentally delayed but she still has so much potential. A potential that, unfortunately, those in her country do not see. Just today Natalie was talking to Vika’s caregivers about the possibility of her being adopted and their response was, “But who would want her?”. Given the society they live in, they just cannot comprehend why someone would cross the oceans to bring a child like Vika home. But I get it and I think a lot of you do too. Will you help me prove to Victoria and her workers that she is a beautiful treasure of immeasurable worth by sharing her story, donating to her grant fund and praying for a family who will gladly cross the oceans for her? For more information or to donate, click here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stuck

I know I’m way overdue for a job update… the thing is, there really hasn’t been any news to share. Over the past several months I have sent out over two dozen resumes, none of which have produced any results. Last week I was offered a job where I will be put on a substitution list to work as an aid with special needs students with one of our local school boards and today I had an interview for a similar position with a school exclusively for children with special needs. Neither is likely to turn into a permanent, full-time job but at least it’ll be something for now. In the meantime, this week I am in the process of calling and sending out resumes to about a dozen more places; truly the only places I can think of that I haven’t already tried.

If I’m going to be honest, I have to admit that this whole process has been confusing, frustrating and discouraging. Next week will mark eight months since I left Ukraine. Eight Months. And here I sit… Right now I just feel stuck. I feel like I spend my days reading about other people’s lives (welcome to the world of adoption blogs…) but I have no life of my own. I distinctly remember being 20 years old, sitting on a city bus thinking and praying about my future. At that time, school was just a filler as all I wanted was to get married, have kids and become a stay at home mom – the sooner the better. That day as I prayed however I felt God telling me not to just sit around and wait as life passed me by. Right there on that city bus I vowed that I would live life to the fullest, follow God wherever He sent me and never regret wasting time while waiting for whatever the future may have in store. For the most part, that is how I have lived the last seven years of my life… until now.

I came home from Ukraine because I felt God was calling me to begin bringing home children of my own. I continue to believe that this is the case however these last eight months haven’t exactly gone as I expected. The very first step in this long process of pursing adoption is to find a stable, decent-paying job with reasonable hours that will allow me to support whatever child(ren) God has in store for me. Knowing this is what God was calling me to, I expected Him to provide such a job relatively quickly. Instead, eight months later, I find myself in the exact place I vowed never to be in – waiting for my future to begin. I don’t know why God has me here, just waiting. If it’s not time for me to bring my kids home yet then I’d rather be overseas somewhere loving on orphans or something. Every time I ask God, “Did I hear You wrong? Was I supposed to stay in Ukraine? Am I supposed to go somewhere else?” His short, nondescript answer is the same, “You are where you’re supposed to be”.

I don’t understand what God is doing or what His plan is in all of this but I am doing my best to trust Him. For those of you who have been praying for me, thank you. It’s hard when there are no updates to give but I want you to know how much I appreciate you. Please continue to pray that God would open up the right job, in the right place at the right time and that He would help me to trust Him in this season of just feeling “stuck”.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Liza



Out of all “my” kids, the one I get the most comments and e-mails about is Liza (you can read more about her here and here). She is also the one whose face I find most often on the blogs of other people desperate to find her a family. What can I say? How can anyone resist that beautiful smile or not be captured by the story of one little girl’s infectious joy in spite of the most unjust circumstances? Even my own mother secretly fantasizes about bringing her home (and just for the record, no, that would not be possible). Liza’s bright eyes and ever-present smile tell a story of life and joy and hope all rolled into one yet that may not always be the case…


I’ve debated long and hard over whether I should show you this video. To say that it is hard to watch would be the understatement of the year yet I am sharing it anyway because I want you to understand the urgency of Liza’s situation. Please click on the video below and watch just one minute of the footage somewhere between 25:24 – 36:40 which depicts the future that lies in store for Liza if she is not adopted soon.



I asked you to watch just one minute as opposed to the whole eleven minute clip because I know that even just one minute is unbearable. Yet if we cannot bear to watch just one minute of what life is like for these kids, how can we even begin to understand what they are experiencing day after day? This video was taken at one of the most notorious Eastern European institutions. It is one of the bad ones but one thing I have learned is that when it comes to these rooms (the ones for ‘bedridden’ children), they are all alike, whether they are in a “good” orphanage or a “bad” institute. I have visited one of these rooms at the orphanage that Liza will most likely be sent to (perhaps another story for another time, if I can ever find the words). In watching this video the memories came rushing back and I can say that the groupa in the video and the groupa that I visited are more alike than different. This is the future we are trying to save Liza from; this is the reason we are praying so hard that her family can whisk her away before she ever has to spend even in a single day in a place like this... A place where life, joy and hope all but disappear as rows of children waste away in body, mind and spirit.


So many people have fallen in love with Liza and are advocating for her and praying hard that she would find a family of her own. I believe that God has a family for Liza. Whoever they are, I know that the biggest obstacle for families considering adoption is usually the same – money. It’s an obstacle that often stops families from committing and, once they do commit, lack of funds can often delay the process. How great would it be if that obstacle was removed for whatever family God has chosen for Liza? You can be a part of making that happen. Even if you only have a few dollars to spare, would you please consider donating to Liza’s grant fund this week? You can also help by sharing Liza’s story and asking those in your circle (‘real life’ or online) to donate what they can as well. Finally, as always, please pray that Liza’s family can get to her before she ever has to learn the meaning and implications of the word “bedridden”. . For more information or to donate, click here.


Liza is listed as “Molly” on Reece’s Rainbow;
in order to protect her identity, when sharing about her on your own blogs, facebook pages, etc. please use her Reece’s Rainbow name

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

God is moving...

This coming Saturday will mark one year since the day that God parted the seas and got me inside the baby orphanage. Wow. Sometime last week I was reading through some of my old blog posts from around that time and was filled with a fresh sense of awe of all that God did. I read through my journal from the seven long weeks before I was finally allowed to volunteer in the orphanages and I was reminded of the frustration, at times insurmountable discouragement and intense desperation that I felt at that time. If you had told me this time last year that in just over a week I would spend nearly 6 hours inside the baby orphanage all in one day, I never would have believed you! I often find myself wishing I could have done more for my kids in the very short amount of time I had with them which is why it’s so important for me to look back and remember the days when I was never supposed to even be able to get inside the orphanage, to remember all that God has indeed accomplished…

And God is still moving on behalf of these kids! Once I realized that God was not calling me to stay in Ukraine, I began praying that He would send someone else to continue the work He had started. I know that many of you have prayed for the same thing. Well, God is answering our prayers!


I would like you to ‘meet’ Natalie…
 

Natalie is a 20-year-old college student who is taking a semester off to volunteer with orphans in Ukraine. I can relate so much to Natalie’s story… She first discovered Reece’s Rainbow about a year and a half ago and immediately fell in love with the sweet faces she saw there. She had a deep desire to help these kids and, being that she is unable to adopt at this time, she knew that God was calling her to love on the kids still in the orphanages. Here is it where it gets really exciting (for me at least)… Back in May, Natalie saw Denis’ picture for the first time which eventually led her to my blog. In reading through my experiences in Ukraine, she fell in love with “my” kids and felt a strong calling from God that this was where she supposed to go and these were the kids she was supposed to love. As I type this, Natalie is on a plane slowly making her way to Ukraine. Seriously, just the thought of it all gives me goose bumps… How great God is! This has been a part of His plan the whole time and I love seeing His fingerprints all over it… Natalie first discovered Reece’s Rainbow and had her eyes opened to the plight of special needs orphans in Eastern Europe at the same time that God was providing the connections necessary for me to go to Ukraine; He was already preparing the heart of the person He would send to continue His work in that place before I even arrived!

This is Natalie’s first mission’s trip and she is taking a huge step of faith. Her heart is for “my angels” at the baby orphanage (a.k.a. orphanage “14” on Reece’s Rainbow) yet she has already been warned that the director may not let her in. This whole time she has felt called to be at baby orphanage with younger kids and she is trusting God to get her in if that is His will. In addition, she is also hoping to be able to spend some time with the abandoned babies at the children’s hospital as well as at the special needs orphanage (a.k.a. orphanage “7” on Reece’s Rainbow) and the preschool orphanage that Igor & Dima were transferred to (a.k.a. orphanage “63” on Reece’s Rainbow). I am ‘introducing’ Natalie to you because I know that most of the people reading my blog have fallen in love with “my” kids as well and I imagine that many of you will be just as excited about all this as I am. Also, I know that Natalie is going to need our prayers. I know firsthand how difficult it was trying to get into all of those places and just how much patience and perseverance it took. I also believe that I never would have made it in if it were not for the prayers of so many of you. So, now I’m asking you to join me in praying for Natalie. Pray that God would move the mountains and open the doors for her to get into the baby orphanage as well as the other three facilities, if that is His will. And pray that He would draw her close to Him and give her all the strength and endurance she needs to do everything He is calling her to do.
 
I am happy to report that Natalie will be blogging throughout her time in Ukraine at http://blogging4theleastofthese.blogspot.com/. Please hop over to her blog, leave her some encouragement, let her know that you’re praying for her and follow along to see all that God is going to continue to do through her on behalf of “our” angles over the course of the next three months.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Andrey



It’s time for an update on Andrey (you can read more about him here and here). Unlike Igor, I do know people who have seen him over the past couple of months. Unfortunately however, the reports haven`t been good.


Here is what one orphanage visitor had to say:
“I've seen Andrey; poor, poor boy. He does not get much love… And he's contained most of the time… They pretty much let him be; unfortunately I haven't seen anyone really care about him.”


Doesn’t that just break your heart? I don’t have any new pictures to share because he is rarely brought outside. Instead, he spends most of his days in this ‘playpen’ (he is the one rolling back and forth on the floor), doing whatever he can to dull the boredom.


I don’t know what else to say. This boy needs a family. I need help in helping him find one. Please help me by sharing his story, donating to his grant fund and storming the gates of heaven on his behalf. For more information or to donate, click here.


Andrey is listed as “Aiden” on Reece’s Rainbow;
in order to protect his identity, when sharing about him on your own blogs, facebook pages, etc. please use his Reece’s Rainbow name

Monday, September 12, 2011

Someone to watch over them...

I was watching a movie a while back when this song came on. It brought me to tears as many of the faces below flashed through my mind;
so many children just longing for someone to watch over them…

Someone To Watch Over Me
(some lines changed...)

There’s a saying old, says that love is blind

Denis

Still we’re often told, "seek and ye shall find"

Heath
 
So I’m going to seek a certain dream I’ve had in mind

Sophie

Looking everywhere, haven’t found them yet

Igor

If only all their fears they could forget

 
It's a decision I know they won't regret

Lilly

I’d like to add their initial to my monogram

 
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?

Theo

There’s a somebody I’m longing to see

Angelina

I hope that she, turns out to be

 
Someone who’ll watch over me

Artem

I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood

Maxim

I know I could, always be good

 
To one who’ll watch over me

Iryna

I know that they won't be perfect, it's ok

Victoria

It don't matter

 
To my heart they carry the key

Victoria

Won’t you tell them please to put on some speed

Diana

Follow His lead, oh, how I need

Doug

Someone to watch over me
 
 
Someone to watch over me
 
Bogdan

Could God be asking you to be that Someone to one of these precious children???

Friday, September 9, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Igor



Lately I have been fortunate enough to be able to share some updates on “my” kids that I have received from adopting families and short-term missionaries who have been to their orphanage over the course of the summer. Today’s ‘Find My Family Friday’ brings us back to Igor (you can read more about him in my previous posts here and here) however I am sad to say that in regards to Igor, I have no update to share.


As you probably remember, Igor was transferred out of the baby orphanage back in December of last year therefore none of the families/missionaries visiting the baby orphanage have been able to see him. The one adoptive family that went to visit Dima (who is at the same orphanage, in the same group as Igor) reported that although they looked for Igor, they did not see him. They did not have the opportunity to ask about him so it was left up to me to guess as to why they did not see him… The kids were all playing outside so he could have just wandered off and been playing with another group. Or maybe he was kept inside for some unknown reason. He could have been in the hospital temporarily as kids are often sent to the hospital for something as simple as a common cold. Or maybe the family just didn’t recognize him. All of those are very probable explanations however it is the last two possibilities I came up with that have me concerned… You see, the orphanage Igor was transferred to is for ‘high-functioning’ children with special needs, the majority of whom have either visual or hearing impairment. I always thought Igor was kind of a strange match for that particular orphanage but because he was transferred at the same time as Dima (who is visually impaired) I thought maybe they just moved Igor there too because it was easier. It is such a good facility and Igor was doing so well there, I certainly wasn’t going to complain. Now however, in hearing that the adoptive family did not see Igor there, I wonder if maybe the director realized that they had made a mistake and Igor did not belong there.


I’ve shared before that while I was in Eastern Europe, out of all “my” kids Igor was the one I was most concerned about. Lately, when I think about / pray for Igor I feel those old familiar knots returning in my stomach. It’s been 7.5 months since I last saw Igor. 7.5 months with no updates, no new pictures, no one to tell me whether or not he’s doing ok. I’ve shared before about what being transferred to an institution would mean for Igor. Then there’s the reality that in Igor’s country, orphans die every year even from something as simple as the flu… The final, unspeakable possibility that I do not even want to think about. Not knowing where he is, if he’s ok… it makes me feel sick to my stomach.


Pretty soon Dima’s family will be there and I will be able to find out what the situation is with Igor. In the meantime, I want to ask you to pray for this little boy. Pray that, wherever he is, that God would surround him with His presence and His peace. Pray that God would hold him close and protect him from all harm. Pray that his family would find him soon. By all means, share his story or donate to his grant fund if you feel led to do so but above all, please pray. For more information or to donate, click here.


Igor is listed as “Brody” on Reece’s Rainbow; in order to protect his identity,
when sharing about him on your own blogs, facebook pages, etc. please use his Reece’s Rainbow name

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bath time

I’ve had this post bouncing around in my head for a while now but just haven’t gotten around to writing it out… Anyway, lately I’ve been spending a lot of time looking after the kids in this family. I also recently spent a week babysitting for friends of mine whose regular babysitter was on vacation. In the midst of all of that, I’ve gotten to give several baths. Now, I know you moms who have to bathe your kids 3+ times a day may disagree with me but as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to caring for young children there are few things I love more than bath time. Seeing the sheer joy on their faces and hearing their shrieks of laughter as they splash and play is just priceless. Yes, I may have gotten soaked in the process but it was worth it.

Before last month, it had been a long time since I given a child a bath. That might seem strange since I just spent that last year caring for young children but it’s true. The reason? Orphans don’t get baths.

All you adoptive parents know this. No matter where you adopt from, this is one first you don’t have to miss out on. Whether terrifying, thrilling or a combination of both, the first bath a once orphaned child has with their adoptive parents is almost always their first bath ever.

Based on my experiences, there are three reasons for this: a) a large staff-to-child ratio makes it impossible for caregivers to spend so much time with each individual child, b) poverty has made baths a luxury that they simply cannot afford, c) the workers quite frankly just can’t be bothered to give that kind of care. Over the past several years, I have seen all three of these causes at play.

In the summer of 2007 I spent three months volunteering at a baby orphanage in Uganda. It was a good orphanage, as far as orphanages go, where the volunteers and staff alike truly loved and cared about the children. Nevertheless, there were approximately a dozen babies in each group being cared for by two caregivers. When bath time came, the goal was efficiency not amusement. Younger babies would be washed in the sink while the older ones would stand in a sort of shower stall. While the babies were indeed washed with loving hands, bath time could best be described as an assembly line operation.


In Congo, not enough time/caregivers was one of problems but it was nothing compared to the lack of an even more important resource – water. Unlike like most homes in the village, we were fortunate enough to have a faucet with running water however it was simply attached to the wall and we would have to fill a jerry can and pour the water into a basin to wash the kids. Even then, the running water was not always reliable and there were many days (and even a couple entire weeks) where the children would have to make the 30 minute trek to the well to fetch water. On those days, water was precious and the goal of bath time was to get the kids clean whilst using as little water as possible. Half a basin of water would be used to wash at least a dozen dirty children and the thought of filling an entire tub with clean water for just one person would have been absolutely absurd.


Finally in Ukraine, while the large staff-to-child ratio was a factor, even a 1:1 ratio would not have solved the problem. The true problem was that the workers did not care. Bathing the children was regarded as a miserable task that had to be done and the goal of bath time was simply to get it over with. There were no loving hands or gentle touches. Instead children would be callously stripped of their clothes, carried by one arm and one leg over to the bathroom, dangled under the faucet while being vigorously scrubbed with a rough sponge, then tossed back on the changing table, wet and cold. Obviously, far from an enjoyable experience…


Those are the memories and images that couldn’t help but run through my mind as I enjoyed my recent bath time experiences. All I ask is that the next time you find yourself bathing your little ones, seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing their laughter ring through the air, please remember the orphans around the world and pray that mommies and daddies would step forward so that they too can experience that bath time bliss.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Denis



Denis. Honestly, I don’t know what else I can tell you about Denis (you can read my previous posts about him here and here). I could not be more thrilled about Andrey finding a family and I am so happy about all the other people who are asking about some of my other kids… becoming their warriors or raising money for their grant funds or even considering adopting them! Still, no one seems to have shown an interest in Denis and I find myself at a loss for words as to how I can express just how precious he is and just how urgent his situation is. 


Every time I see new pictures of Denis, my concern for him grows.

(taken a couple weeks ago)
I feel as though he is wasting away before my eyes and I am helpless to do anything about it. I pray for him often yet aside from that, I am at a loss. He needs more than my little blog. He needs hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of people to see his face and read his story. Would you help me? Would you share about him on your blogs, facebook, twitter and every other social media outlet that I’m not even aware of? Would you talk about him with your friends, families, neighbours and co-workers? And then would you ask every one you share with to do the same?
(don’t forget you can read more about Denis in my previous posts here and here – feel free to use any of the photos or information that you find in these posts as you advocate for him yourselves)


This is the most recent picture I’ve seen of Denis and I cannot get it out of my mind… It is as if he’s on his knees begging for help. You can see the longing in his eyes and it breaks my heart. I recently read the following statement on an adoption agency website: "We believe that there is a family waiting for every child that is born." I believe that there is a family out there somewhere waiting for Denis, they just have to find him. Please, share his story, donate to his grant fund if you can and join me in praying that his family finds him before its too late.
For more information or to donate, click here.


Denis is listed as “Ryan” on Reece’s Rainbow;
in order to protect his identity, when sharing about him on your own blogs, facebook pages, etc. please use his Reece’s Rainbow name