Saturday, April 20, 2013

The cat is out of the bag! - Our Reece's Rainbow Baby!

Well friends, so far I have had to be pretty secretive about who our little boy is. And there are a lot of things that I still can't say. BUT, we are at a point in the process where I have a little more freedom to share about the child we will be adopting, and I am so excited to share him with you! First things first. I cannot share with you his birth name, but he has a Reece's Rainbow name for identification purposes and to protect his identity. That name is Donald. So until we reveal what we intend to name him once he comes home, we will refer to him as Donald. We can also share with you that he recently turned 3 years old, but he will more than likely be 4 by the time he comes home to us. He is in Eastern Europe, but we cannot specify where in EE he is yet.

We've shared with you that he has special needs, but had not yet specified what those needs were. Donald has Sotos Syndrome, strabismus (slightly crossed eyes, he may need glasses) and mild scoliosis. Sotos Syndrome (also known as cerebral gigantism) is a fairly rare genetic disorder caused by either a mutation or a deletion in the NSD1 gene on the 5th chromosome. It is characterized by excessive physical growth during the first few years of life. Kids with Sotos syndrome tend to be large at birth and are often taller, heavier, and have larger heads than is normal for their age. Symptoms of Sotos Syndrome, which can vary widely among individuals, include a disproportionately large and long head with a slightly protrusive forehead and pointed chin, large hands and feet, an increased distance between the eyes, and down-slanting eyes. The disorder is often accompanied by mild mental delays; delayed motor, cognitive, and social development; hypotonia (low muscle tone), and speech impairments. Sotos syndrome is not a life-threatening disorder and those with a diagnosis have a normal life expectancy. The initial abnormalities of Sotos syndrome usually resolve as the growth rate becomes normal after the first few years of life. Developmental delays may improve in the school-age years, and adults with Sotos syndrome are likely to be within the normal range for intellect and height. However, coordination problems may persist into adulthood. Sotos syndrome is reported to occur in 1 in 10,000 to 14,000 newborns.

Donald is just beginning to walk with assistance. We are so proud of him for working on this important milestone! He does not speak yet, and that is probably in part because of his special needs, but also partially because of growing up in an orphanage. In an orphanage setting, there are a lot of children and not a lot of caregivers, and therefor there is not a lot of time for chit chatting with the kids and helping them develop language.  He does vocalize though. I'm hoping to learn some basic signs so that when he comes home we can use signs along with speech to help him understand and pick up language.

Now I know what you are all waiting for is a picture! We are happy to introduce you to our soon to be son!

Through the amazing world of Facebook and the Reece's Rainbow community, I have been in contact with 3 families who have adopted from Donald's orphanage. One family just brought home their son and daughter from the very same place Donald waits, just weeks ago! And their son's crib was right next to Donald's. It has been amazing to be able to touch base with these adoptive families who have actually been in his orphanage and actually seen our son! One mother actually spent quite a bit of time with him and held him. The thing we have heard over and over again is that he always had a smile on his face, and that he was a very happy boy. :) One mother even said that if they had been able to add another child to their adoption it would have been him.

That is all the information I have for you at this time about our little love. Please pray for him as he waits? And pray for us that we are able to raise all the funds needed to ransom our precious boy, and that more than anything we would be doing God's will and glorifying Him.

We are able to share more info because we officially have an FSP, or Family Support Page (click to see!) up on Reece's Rainbow. Our FSP has a family bio and a way to give a tax deductible donation to our adoption fund. All money donated to our FSP will go toward travel costs, in country expenses and orphanage fees that come later. We cannot access any of the money in our FSP until we are traveling, which won't be for some time. FSP donations are super important and are great for those who are concerned about donations being tax deductible. That being said, we will have a lot of adoption fees and expenses before we travel, and therefor donations to our Paypal button on the side of our blog, as well as personal donations of cash or check, are so very appreciated. But do be aware that these donations are not tax-deductible. Another thing to consider is that all money donated through both our Paypal button AND our FSP donate button will have 3% of each donation taken out for Paypal fees. If you would like to send a check to Reece's Rainbow on our behalf, 100% will be deposited into our fund. So you can make the most of your donations by sending us a personal check, or sending a check to Reece's Rainbow on our behalf. Here is the address and instructions on sending a Check.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, please consider sharing our Family Support Page or our blog posts on your Facebook wall, twitter or blog! Thank you so much for sharing in our excitement and joy! It is truly touching to us to see how much our boy is already loved, not only by us, but by our friends and family as well. Please know that every word of encouragement, every "like" and "share", and every donation means SO very much to us. May God bless you abundantly.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Before and After - Reece's Rainbow Miracles

So the last blog post featured some before and after pictures that were heartbreaking. The faces of sweet orphaned children before and after transfer. My heart shudders just thinking of those precious ones fate... God be with them. Please pray with me, for all of the waiting children across this world of ours. If you are friends with me on Facebook and have wondered why I am constantly sharing the photos of orphans, blog posts about them, and links to auctions and other fundraisers for families who are in the adoption process, this is why. Because these kids need and deserve families. Because love makes a difference.

Today though, I want to show you a very different kind of before and after photo. Photos of children before being adopted and photos of them after their families have found them and brought them home. See what love can do.

Andre before and after!
Silas before, and only 4 months after coming home!
Sophia Grace. Four years old....ten pounds.
Second photo is six weeks home.
Anita before, and Anita 8 months home.
Aleshia before, and filled with joy, 6 months home. 
Nicki before, and Nicki 8 months home!
Ahnja just broken free from her orphanage, and again just 8 months later! 

The next 2 comparison photos are all of the same little boy. Precious Keith was 5 years old when he was adopted and was wearing 3-6 month size clothing. 
Here is Keith after just ONE month home. ONE month of proper nutrition and love. 
And above you will see how much he grew in just 6 1/2 months home. Incredible!

Go back and take a look at the other before and after photos in my last blog post and then look again at these. This is why adoption is so important. These kids need families. And I believe that families need these kids. Beautiful blessings they are.

And for an update on our Guardian Angel Wall look no further! Here is what we have so far! Cana has been working hard to keep up with donations. Cana asks me everyday if there were any donations for her to work on. You can also see one heart that Loyal colored. Bet you can guess which one. ;) It's looking great so far, but we have a long way to go! Help us fill our entire hallway! :) 
 God bless all of our boys Guardian Angles!

Please also take a look at the page at the top of my blog entitled "Current Fundraisers". We are doing a LOT of great fund raisers already to help bring our little boy home. If you are local (Oregon) and need a photography session, there are TWO great ways for you to help us out AND get high quality photos! We are also running a Thirty-One party, which is a great company that sells beautiful bags, purses, thermal picnic totes and organizing tools. Check it out! In addition we have a Scentsy party going as well. Make your home smell heavenly, and for a good cause! If you are on Facebook, please check out our online adoption auction! SO many wonderful items! You don't have to live near us to participate in the auction or the Scentsy or Thirty-One parties. All 3 of those fundraisers are online! Please consider shopping with us for any birthday you have coming up. Mother's Day is also coming up soon and both Scentsy and Thirty-One would be perfect for Mom! :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why International Adoption? Why Special Needs? - Reece's Rainbow Adoption

So a few have asked us why we would want to adopt internationally. There are children right here in the United States who need families after all! And also, why special needs adoption? What makes you feel qualified to parent a child with special needs? These are my thoughts...

The first and most important answer to both questions is; God has set us on this path. Josh and I both feel confident that we have heard God's calling here, and after much prayer, discussion, research and more prayer, we decided to answer that call. It may sound trite, but that's honestly how we feel. Where God is leading, we want to follow!

The second most important answer to both questions is this; He is our son. And our son wasn't born in the United States, and our son just happened to be born with special needs. Period. If he was in the foster care system, we would pursue him there. If he was born in Asia, we would pursue him there. But he currently lives in Eastern Europe and therefor that is where we are going. And as far as his special needs are concerned we feel comfortable with them, and will work hard to help him in any way we can, just as we would with our biological kids. If someone gives birth to a child with special needs, do we take them aside and say, "Now wait a minute, what makes you feel qualified to care for that child? Do you have any experience?" No. Instead we pray for them, offer support, and just be a friend to them!

But here is another reason. First, my disclaimer. Foster care and domestic adoption is super important and is definitely needed. I respect anyone who is a foster parent or who has adopted domestically. EVERY child deserves a family. And every adoptive family is called differently. Some feel pulled to Haiti, some to China, some to Latvia, and some to the good old US of A. If God called us all in the same way, not only would this world be a really boring and uninteresting place, but there would also be a lot of unmet needs out there. All that being said, I have no problem with people wanting to adopt locally or become foster parents, and I hope more do so! It's definitely needed. But God has opened our eyes to the plight of the orphan internationally. Our eyes cannot be shut. Orphaned children in Easter Europe (EE for short) and other countries face a very different reality than those in the United States do.

In the US, children who are given up for adoption, or whose parents are unable to successfully parent them, are placed with foster parents who are trained how to care for them, they receive medical care, counseling and have social workers checking up on them. They have food, clothes, a home and they get to participate in a family unit.

Orphaned children with special needs in EE and many other countries are taken first to what is called a baby house. When I hear the term baby house, I imagine a home filled with loving nannies, rocking babies and shaking rattles. But that image would be false. A baby house is an orphanage for children age 0-5 with rows and rows of cribs where the kids spend the majority (if not ALL) of their time. The room with the smallest babies are often termed the crying rooms. The babies cry and cry and cry until, they learn that their needs are not going to be met, they are not going to get another bottle, they are not going to be rocked or held and they give up. They do not get adequate amounts of food and it is not uncommon to hear of toddlers and even much older children being bottle fed only. Less mess and fuss for the orphanage workers who are unable (or unwilling) to take the time to teach children how to feed themselves. Very often these kids will get only ONE diaper change a day. Many orphans in EE and elsewhere do not have language. This is not usually because of their special needs, but is because they are simply not spoken to. Many orphanages do not have any toys. Others have lots of toys, but do not allow the children to play with them unless an adoptive family is coming for a visit. Mostly these babies and young children spend their days laying or pacing in their cribs.

And what happens after the baby house? Transfer. Transfer is an ugly word in the adoption community. Little ones with special needs who are not adopted by age 5 (usually age 5, sometimes as early as age 4, sometimes a little later) are sent to an ADULT mental institution. The baby houses are Disneyland compared to these dark, despair filled institutions. Here, they get even less attention, less food, are often drugged constantly to keep them quiet and docile, their heads are shaved (both boys and girls), and they are often beaten and abused. A very sad yet real statistic is that about 85% of children transferred out of the baby house will die within the first year. In the baby house there is at least a glimmer of hope that they might be chosen, a family might come for them. In the adult mental institutions, all hope is lost. Take a look at these faces. The before pictures are when they still resided in the baby houses. After photos are after transfer.

 Sweet little Sonny lost his beautiful hair and the twinkle in his eye.
Kolya breaks my heart. Look how his charming smile has become a hardened frown.
Poor little Donovan is wasting away...

Darling Holden has clearly been mistreated...

And precious Ksenia...there are no words. 

And here is the memorial page on Reece's Rainbow. Many of these children had families coming for them. 

These are real children. And their reality is unfathomable. We cannot stomach the thought of our boy ever having to set foot in an institution. So we are working hard to raise the ransom needed. This is why we are going. For God. For our son. And for love. Please consider helping us bring our little one home...

Next post I will show a very different kind of before and after photo. Stay Tuned. And just a reminder that all contributions will added to our Guardian Angel wall. I will soon be posting a picture of what we have so far.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Guardian Angels

So as you know from my last blog post, we are taking a leap of faith and going where God has called us to go. To an Eastern European country to adopt a sweet little boy with special needs. You will all learn more about our little love and his needs as we are able to share. But for now, the fund raising must begin! We have to send the adoption agency a commitment fee of $3500 very soon. And soon after that will come home study fees of about $2000. Many more fees after that but, I'm trying to just focus on what's right in front of me. One step at a time. I want to keep track of all of your generous donations from the very beginning, so I'm doing something visible and tangible to remind our family of God's provision and of all of the good people out there that are working with us to bring our son HOME! We are creating a Guardian Angel wall. Everyone who donates $5-10 dollars to help rescue our son will get one of these hearts on our Guardian Angel wall with your name on it.
If you give $11-25 dollars, we will put your name on a beautiful set of angel wings like these.
Donations of $26-50 get your name on this sweet praying angel:

And any donation of $51 or more will earn a special spot on our Guardian Angel wall with this beautiful angel:
Each of these pictures will be lovingly colored by either my 6 year old daughter Cana or my 4 year old son Loyal. Most of them will probably be done by Cana, simply because she really enjoys coloring, while Loyal has to be in the right mood for it. :) Cana is soooo excited to participate in bringing her little brother home and wants to start filling up our Guardian Angel wall! Will you help her get started? If you would like to donate in honor of someone else, please let me know, and I will add that to the picture. If you have any special message you would like to add, I'd be glad to do so. I want to keep these forever to look back on!