December 29, 2009

The Boy From Baby House 10

Last week I read a book called, "The Boy From Baby House 10" by Alan Philps and John Lahutsky. I finished it in 2 days - record time for me! I couldn't put it down. It is the true store of the co-author, John Lahutsky (whose Russian name was Vanya). He is now a high school student living a normal life in Pennsylvania. His story about how he came to be adopted from the Russian system is tear-jerking and inspiring. The story seems to be from another period of time, but it hasn't changed much in the past 10 years from when he was saved from a tragic fate. Here is an excerpt from the cover summary:

"Confined to one room with a group of silent children, he was ignored by most of the staff and labeled an 'imbecile' and 'ineducable' by the authorities. He was consigned, for a time, to a mental asylum, where he lived in a high-sided, iron-barred crib, lying in a pool of his own waste, on a locked ward surrounded by screaming children and psychotic adults. But even these dire surroundings didn't destroy the spirit of this remarkable little boy. Vanya grew into an intellectually curious, verbally complex youngster who reached out to everyone around him."

December 18, 2009

Alyona needs a home!

I just wanted to highlight this one adorable little girl who lives in an Eastern European orphanage.  She is 3 and will turn 4 in September, which means the mental institution for her :-( I just can't get over her!  Isn't she adorable?  Sherry over at For Jessa and Amelia also posted about her, so hopefully the more exposure this little girl gets, then maybe someone will come forward to adopt her, or make a donation toward her adoption grant.  Donations made to Reece's Rainbow on her behalf go 100% into her grant and are tax deductible!  (Just click at the link at the right to get to the Reece's Rainbow website.)


This is why

This is a news report that was released a couple of years ago about the condition of mental institutions in Serbia. Not all mental institutions in Eastern Europe are like this, and this one may very well have improved, but it is still disturbing (consider this your warning!) and heart-breaking. But then again, is there such a thing as a "good" institution for children to grow up in? So go grab your tissue!

December 16, 2009

Why is adoption so expensive?

Knowing that there are children who will imminently face life bedridden in an institution if they aren't adopted by the age of 4, you would think that it would be practically free to families who would love to take one of them in as their own child. But sadly that's not the case. It's not that there are money-hungry people taking advantage of people (well, there certainly might be, but most people do it for the love of the children). But there are just a wide variety of fees and costs and they quickly add up, and that is somewhere around the $20,000 mark (for adoption in Eastern Europe). This is a very rough breakdown of where that money goes:

$2k - Homestudy and associated costs (all adoptions require a homestudy)
$1k - I-600a and fingerprinting (government forms and requirements)
$8500 - Facilitation (for the people in the child's country who help facilitate the adoption)
$5k - 5 plane tickets (2 parents, 2 trips, and child 1-way home)
$550 - Visa and medical (required for the child so they can come to the States)
$3500 - $100/day  for lodging and food in country (2 trips)
$2k - Transportation
$1k - Other miscellaneous costs

Since Joel and I are pretty frugal already, I'm sure we could find a way to bring some of those costs down (especially in the travel arena - eat cheaply and walk or use public transportation whenever possible). But that is still A LOT of money, no doubt.

Reece's Rainbow, the organization we are hoping to go through, is completely non-profit and solely volunteer based. The founder, Andrea Roberts, was moved to help find homes for other children with Down syndrome after her son Reece was born with it. Andrea and a slew of other people work diligently to raise money that goes completely to the adoption funds of these children. So far, there have been over 200 adoptions through RR since it started about 3 years ago. Amazing!

So, as we are brainstorming how to raise this amount, any ideas and help would be greatly appreciated! After all, it is to save the LIFE of a child, otherwise I wouldn't dream of asking anyone for any help. Every little bit helps and collectively we can give one child a loving family! Please also take the time to look at other families who are hoping to adopt by clicking on one of the links to the right.

**On a side note, from my title, adoption isn't always expensive - adopting through the Foster care system can either be free or cost very little and there are lots of wonderful children here in the States who need forever-families!

A mini-bio of our family

I know that there is an "About Me" tab to the right, but assuming that some people who might stumble upon this blog don't know me I thought I'd tell you a little more about me and my family.

Let's name is Marianne and I'm 32. I've been married to my amazing husband Joel for 10 years and we have 3 awesome boys together. Joel and I were both born and raised in California (though he did spend a few years in Minnesota), but met in Seattle during the hay-day of flannel shirts and the birth of the Starbucks craze. After finishing Bible college, Joel moved back to California to pursue his Master's degree in theology. We got married after his first year at Westminster Seminary (in Escondido). We didn't wait long to start a family as our first baby was born a month after our second wedding anniversary. Sam, our baseball aficionado, is now 8. Next came Ben - our critter "whisperer" is almost 7. And Nate-the-Great is almost 5. We moved to Florida almost 2 years ago after Joel accepted the call to pastor a church plant here in Gainesville. I get to be the stay-at-home mama of our boys. I home school them, and Joel mostly works from home, so we spend a lot of time together as a family. Thankfully we get along supremely well! Well....the boys do have their moments :-) But all-in-all we are a "happy" family.

So, why do we want to adopt, and especially a little girl with Down syndrome? Some things can't be explained how they got put into your heart. I suppose God just impresses certain things onto your heart and mind as your life crosses different paths. My first post will explain more of how it happened to me.

I just feel like there is a little girl out there, perhaps in an orphanage across the Atlantic Ocean, waiting for a place to call home - our home. No, we aren't perfect or rich, but we do promise to love unconditionally and smother her with affection and provide for her needs. We promise to give her a chance at a real life and not let her languish in an institution. And above all, we promise to raise her up in the admonition and fear of the Lord. 

Adoption is a beautiful picture of Christ's redemption and love for us.  We didn't know how truly lost we were until He sacrificed His own life on our behalf so we may become the children of God.   He cares for us, nurtures us, and loves us unconditionally.  We would love to emulate Christ's love to the best of our abilities by saving even one precious child from life and death in an institution.

December 8, 2009

A Cup of Cold Water

A few years ago, some dear friends of ours had a child born with Down syndrome. It changed their lives....for the better. You see, life with a child with Down syndrome isn't like a life sentence, as society might have you believe. But our friends are blessed unlike they could have imagined since having their precious baby boy. He is adorable beyond words, happy, content, and his milestones are all the more to be celebrated! He is a delight to their family and friends.

Before that, I was naive and unaware of the plight of children with Down syndrome, both here in the States and abroad. I just didn't give much thought to it, to be honest. When I realized that not only is the termination rate for pregnancies that show a risk of Down syndrome high (around 90%), but that many babies born with an "extra 21st chromosome" in other countries are sent to orphanages shortly after birth - abandoned and rejected, or just in the hopes that they will be adopted and receive a better life than their parents could provide. Then around the age of 4, these precious children are sent to live the rest of their lives in mental institutions where the mortality rate is very high. What a sad and cold life. No family to love them. No one to snuggle with them and read to them. No one to comfort them when they are sick. No one to pray with them and tuck them in bed at night.

One night about a year ago, while reading about this on the internet, I stumbled across a website called Reece's Rainbow. It is a wonderful Christian non-profit organization that works diligently to promote and raise funds for the adoption of special needs children (primarily those with Down syndrome) in foreign countries. (There are waiting lists here in the States for the adoption of children with DS.) Shortly after finding that website, I signed up to pray for a specific child and got assigned a beautiful baby girl in Eastern Europe. Our family prayed for her every morning at breakfast. Nate, in his cute lispy 4-year old voice would faithfully pray, "that baby Kyrah would get a loving Christian family". Well, just recently we found out that she is getting adopted! A wonderful Christian family has committed to bringing her home. God answered our prayers! I hope to write a bit about that family in another blog. To say the least, we are all very excited for her.

Well, this one need in our needful world still weighs heavy on my heart. I know that adoption, especially foreign-special-needs adoption, is not for everyone. But no one can deny that every child should have a loving family to call their own. And there are many ways you can be a part of making this one need met - by prayer, encouragement, advocacy, and support. So we would ask our friends and family for your prayers, encouragement, and support as we seek to offer a "cup of cold water" to one of these little ones.

"And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." Matthew 10:42