Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving with the Lococo's

I had such a great time with the Lococo family these past few days. As I mentioned, Patty and I hadn’t exchanged more than a couple of e-mails before she invited me to spend Thanksgiving with them but I felt so welcomed and at home amongst her family, as though we had been friends for years. They are a beautiful family whose hearts truly beat for “the least of these” and I was so blessed to be able to spend time getting to know Patty, Tom and all six of their wonderful children. It was an amazing three days filled with laughter, lots of good food, a beautiful hike up a local mountain and many hours of heartfelt discussion around orphan care, adoption, missions, and special needs (not to mention some sweet moments with little Julia).

I thought I’d share a few pictures… As some of you may know, I’m not much of a photographer so although I had my camera with me, it never came out of my suitcase. Instead, I just took the lazy way out and stole these pictures from Caleb and the rest of the family :)















Anyway, I start a new job tomorrow (more on that as soon as I have the time and energy to type it all out) but in the meantime I just want to say thank you so much Lococo family for a really great few days… officially my best American Thanksgiving yet!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Igor



I have been working on an interview with a mom who adopted a little boy who reminds me in many ways of “my” Igor. Unfortunately, that post will not be ready for today so it will have to wait ‘till next time. In the meantime, I want to encourage you to go over to Jane’s blog and read her post entitled, “So Your Child Self-Harms!”.


I have been sharing a lot about Igor’s self-harming behaviours lately and while I want to be honest so that Igor’s family can be prepared as possible, I also worry that all this talk of Igor’s severe head banging will scare potential families away. Yet Jane has a daughter with Smith Magenis Syndrome who exhibits fairly severe self-injurious behaviours and she wrote a beautiful post this week about the challenges and the joys of parenting her child, just as she as. I thought of Igor the whole time I was reading her post and so, while we wait for what promises to be a very informative interview with another adoptive mama, please go read Jane’s post then come back over here, look back at some of my old posts about Igor (you can do so here, here, here and here) and see Igor, not an unknown ‘disease’ or an illness to be cured but Igor – wonderful and beautiful just the way he is.


For more information on adopting Igor or to donate to his grant fund, 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

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends out there! I am enjoying my time with the Lococo family but wanted to take a few minutes for a quick Thankful Thursday post…

I am thankful for new friends who feel like family, despite the fact that we were strangers just 36 hours ago.

I am thankful for a safe, snowy yet beautiful drive from Montreal to New York State yesterday.

I am thankful for my car, which I almost sold after I got home from Africa, which would have been a big mistake.

I am thankful for the privilege and the blessing of serving special needs students over the past couple of months.

I am thankful for the new job that God has provided for me (more on that to come).

I am thankful for all the families stepping forward for “my” babies.

I am thankful for everyone who’s been donating to Denis’ grant, now over $1,200.

I am thankful for God’s plans and His purposes; always best, never late.

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30)

p.s. Happy Birthday to a very special someone… Praying you know how loved you are today!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Road Trip

Bright and early tomorrow morning I am heading out on a road trip to spend American Thanksgiving with a Reece’s Rainbow family in New York State. Patty started reading my blog back when I was in Ukraine and has often left encouraging comments letting me know she is praying for me, etc. We e-mailed back and forth once or twice for the first time back in September and a few weeks later I received an e-mail out of the blue inviting me to spend Thanksgiving with her family. I was so touched by such a kind and thoughtful gesture from someone I hardly even knew. I am so amazed sometimes by how the internet can bring likeminded people together in such a way that strangers can becomes friends so quickly. Aside from making Thanksgiving plans, Patty and I haven’t exchanged more than a couple of e-mails (in fact, I realized as we were discussing my visit that I didn’t even know how many children she had!) yet the connection is most definitely there and I can’t wait to get to know her and her family in person.

Anyway, I just thought you might be interested in knowing what I’m up to this weekend. I will be in New York from Wednesday to Saturday and I look forward to telling you all about my time with this wonderful family when I get back!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Liza's Family

About a month ago I happily announced that Liza had found a family! I promised to introduce you to them soon but as you may have noticed… that hasn’t happened. Well, Liza’s adoption story hasn’t exactly had a “normal” beginning. A few days after Liza’s original family committed to adopting her through Reece’s Rainbow, they learned that another family was also actively pursuing her adoption outside of Reece’s Rainbow. After much prayer and discussion on both sides, the original family made the completely selfless decision to bow out and allow the other family to adopt Liza. The story of how God was at work in all of it is incredible but I could never do it justice. Liza’s new family blogged about it here and I strongly encourage you to go read it for yourselves. It’s long but it’s beautiful and powerful and definitely worth your time.

Anyway, moving on… I am thrilled to finally be able to introduce you to Liza’s soon-to-be forever family:

Rick, Michelle and their six children aged 12-18.

Ever since she was a young girl, Michelle has had it on her heart to adopt from the former Soviet Union, a dream that remained 30 years later even after 19 years of marriage and 6 biological children. Whenever Rick and Michelle would discuss adoption it was always something they would do “someday”, once their biological children were grown. All that changed this past June however when Michelle stumbled across the “available to large families” link on the Reece’s Rainbow website. It was there that she and her entire family fell in love with the first of two beautiful little girls who will soon become their daughters. While looking for more information on “Girl no. 1” Michelle came across a picture of Liza and her smile immediately caught her attention (no surprise there!). Here is where things get really fun… Not long after seeing Liza’s picture on the Ukrainian website, Michelle “randomly” stumbled across my blog and lo and behold she saw a picture on my sidebar of the little girl who had captured their hearts.


Is God amazing or what?!

Michelle and I began e-mailing back and forth and as they fell more and more in love with Liza, I fell more in love with them as the perfect family for “my” girl. There was just one problem, they were facing an upcoming move to a different state and could not begin the adoption process until they were settled in their new home. For that reason, they could not officially commit to Liza and her picture remained on the “waiting children” section of Reece’s Rainbow. When I heard that another family was committing to Liza I had mixed emotions… Of course I was thrilled that my girl “officially” had a family and it was obvious that they were a wonderful family who loved her very much but deep down I was also a little bit sad because I had really thought that Rick and Michelle were “the ones” for her. Well, as it turns out… they are!!! The other family is searching and praying about the daughter God has for them and Rick and Michelle are actively pursuing the adoption of Liza and “Girl no. 1” (who they will be naming Olivia).


As for Liza, they will be naming her Aliza which means “Joyful One”… I cried when they first told me that.
“My” Liza Joy; could there be any more perfect name for her?


So there you have it, the long awaited story and introduction of Liza’s family. As I mentioned, they are in the process of moving states. They hope to schedule their homestudy for January and then move full steam ahead towards bringing their girls home, hopefully before Liza’s birthday in June. In the meantime, they are working on gathering the documents they need which, as those of you who have been down the adoption road know, add up pretty quickly. Because they are not adopting through Reece’s Rainbow, Rick and Michelle do not have a tax-deductable grant for the girls however you can donate via the ChipIn on the side of their blog (if you donate before the 24th you’ll also be entered for a chance to win a copy of the book “Adopt Without Debt” – click here for more info). Because they are not adopting through Reece’s Rainbow, it’s possible they won’t receive the same kind of publicity and support that Reece’s Rainbow families often receive. But I know the generosity and hospitality of the adoption community and I believe that it will be extend to any adoptive family, regardless of which facilitators they use. Adopting two different girls from two different regions is costly (roughly $40,000) and they can use all the support they can get. Both girls are facing imminent transfer (if you forget what that could mean for Liza, click here) and having as much of the finances as possible in place heading into their homestudy will help to move the process along quickly. Let’s show this family some love and support and welcome them into the adoption community with open arms. Click on over to their blog here, leave them a comment, become a follower and donate whatever you can to their adoption fund to help them bring their girls home. Finally, please keep Rick, Michelle and their entire family in your prayers as they move across the country and do everything they can to get to their daughters before they are transferred.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Denis




It’s been a long time since I dreamed about “my kids” but last week I dreamt that Denis was back in my arms forever
(you can read more about Denis here, here, here and here).


Out of all the kids I left behind, why do I all of a sudden find myself dreaming of Denis safe and at home in my arms? All I can figure is that it’s the urgency of his situation. Deep down in my heart I know that he is running out of time and it terrifies me. I’m not the only one who feels this way. My very good friend Jane over at Flight Platform Living was devastated when she heard the news of Denis’ transfer. In her desperation to do something she cried out to God and heard a clear voice telling her, “Act now, I am moving and I am watching, every day counts there is no time to waste!” So, Jane is hosting a giveaway for Denis. For every $5 you donate to Denis’ grant fund between now and Christmas you get an entry to win a beautiful piece of original artwork being created by Jane herself (who is in fact a professional artist whose artwork is sold for several hundred dollars apiece).


Let me tell you a little more about Jane… she is a beautiful, inspiring woman of God with a heart as big as the ocean. Her eyes were opened to the plight of special needs orphans through Reece’s Rainbow and even though living in the UK disqualifies her from adopting any of these children herself, that hasn’t diminished her love for them one bit. She is the facilitator of “Forget-Me-Not-Fridays” and she fights for the forgotten with everything she has. Even though she was already in the midst of a big giveaway for the ‘daughter of her heart’, Francine, she stepped out in faith and obedience and started up a giveaway for Denis as well. The thing is, so far I’m the only one who’s donated.


I know that there are families considering Denis. I also know that, as is true with most families, the finances are the biggest and most overwhelming obstacle. Let’s help make that obstacle a little smaller, shall we? Let’s show any family considering stepping out in faith to bring this precious little angel boy home that they are not alone but that there is an army of people ready to fight with them. And while we’re at it, let’s encourage Jane who stepped out in faith to raise money for this sweet boy even when it seemed impossible (and give me a little competition for that artwork, won’t you!). Please share Denis’ story, donate to his grant fund (and whenever you do either of those things, let Jane know by commenting on her post here to receive an entry in her giveaway) and pray that Denis’ family can get to him before it’s 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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Katerina

I know that many of you are following the story of little Katerina Musser who is currently on her way home from Eastern Europe with her brand new forever family. For those of you who are not familiar with her story, Katerina is a beautiful orphaned girl with Down syndrome.
At 9 years old, she weighs less than 11 pounds...

Katerina’s story has been circulating through the Reece’s Rainbow community for a couple of months now and it has been amazing to see how God is using one little girl to open the eyes and hearts of so many towards these truly “unwanted” and “forgotten” children languishing in Eastern European institutions. The Musser’s named their Katerina after another tiny 9-year-old girl with Down syndrome who they saw in a video which opened their eyes to the plight of special needs orphans in Eastern Europe (you can see that video here; the original Katerina is featured in a short clip from 2:50-2:55). Over the past couple of months I have found myself thinking often of Katerina… the one from the video who has by now most likely died in that very crib we saw her laying in, the one who was chosen to be rescued and is now on her way home… and the one I left behind – “my Katerina”.

One day back when I was in Ukraine, I was given the rare privilege of visiting one of the bedridden groups at the special needs orphanage. It’s a day I have spoken very little about; a day that I will forever be thankful for, yet a day that will forever haunt me. On that day I met a beautiful 9-year-old girl with Down syndrome named Katerina (or Katya for short). Just the other two Katerina’s, she had dark hair and big brown eyes. Just like the other two Katerina’s, her tiny frame made it impossible to believe that she could truly be 9-years-old. I have no pictures of “my” Katerina but her face is forever etched on my heart. Although I wasn’t sure I would ever find the words to share about that day, I realize now that it’s time. Time for me to pull back the curtains and allow you to experience what I experienced on that day. It’s a long story and I don’t want to leave anything out so I will be doing it in several parts. It may take me a few days, a few weeks or even a few months but in the end I hope that your eyes are opened and your hearts are broken just as mine were on that day.

Stay tuned…

Friday, November 11, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Maxim




Last month I told you that Maxim now has a grant fund of his own (you can read my previous posts about Maxim here, here and here). At that time Maxim only had $10 in his fund but today I am very excited to say that Maxim’s grant is now over $4,500!!!

$4565.00 is available towards the cost of my adoption!

That’s about one fifth of the way there…
what a huge blessing that will be to the family fortunate enough to bring Maxim home and call him their own.


There’s something else that I’m excited to share with you… new pictures of Maxim!


The boy just keeps getting cuter and cuter…


And he’s doing really well. His walking has improved since I last saw him, as you can see in the video below,
and his sweetness hasn’t diminished one bit.


As I’ve said before, Maxim is just a cute, cuddly, happy and easy-going little boy full of life and potential. An active, ball-loving, “all boy” kind of guy with a side of gentle, affectionate sweetness that just melts your heart… Could he be your son?


I’ll wrap it up with one last video because, really, who could resist this laugh???


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Maxim has been waiting too long. Please consider how you can help this sweet little boy find his way home… donate to his grant fund, share his story and, as always, remember him in your prayers. For more information or to donate, click here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Orphan Sunday 2011

Today is Orphan Sunday. In the past I have shared statistics, introduced you to just a handful of the faces behind the numbers and made suggestions as to how you can get involved. Today however, I am not going to do any of those things. You know the statistics, you’ve seen their faces and I am not going to be presumptuous enough to assume that I know what God is calling you to do. Instead, all I’m going to ask you to do is watch this video and then take some time to seriously consider the question,
“What part am I going to play in putting these orphans’ hearts back together?”



Each one of us has a different part to play but we are all called to do something…

How will you help to bind their broken hearts?

“The LORD is heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord…”     Psalm 147:3-5

Friday, November 4, 2011

Find My Family Friday - Victoria




As I mentioned in my Orphan Sunday Update, Victoria is one of the children in the city I worked in who has been waiting the longest for her family to find her (you can read more about Victoria here, here and here). Year after year Victoria waits in an orphanage…

The first picture we have of her is at three years old.


Then four.


Then five.


Still waiting… In just over a week Victoria will turn six years old. Another year, another sad picture of a little girl growing up all alone. Please help put an end to Victoria’s waiting by sharing her story, donating to her grant fund and praying that next year’s picture will find Victoria in the arms of her forever family. For more information or to donate, click here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Three Musketeers - One Year Later

 One year ago today I was invited to help out in a new group at the baby orphanage where I met three adorable little boys with Down syndrome who I would later nickname “The Three Musketeers”. At this time last year, Artem, Andrey and Aloysha spent their days in a crowded 5x5 playpen with 3-4 other toddlers, rarely given the opportunity to go outside, never allowed to simply play freely on the floor. At that time, only one of these boys had a family committed to him. Today, two of the boys are home with their forever families and the other has a family on the way.

Artem last year
Artem today
 

Artem & his forever family
 

Andrey last year
Andrey today

Andrey & his soon-to-be forever family

 
Aloysha (now Lucas) last year 
Lucas (formerly Aloysha) today
 

Lucas & his forever family

Three precious orphaned boys, now orphans no longer… Oh how great God is!!!

To read more about Artem go to: http://prieststory.blogspot.com/
To see more pictures and video of Lucas/Aloysha go to: http://livinonlove-lifewithextratolove.blogspot.com/
To follow Andrey’s family’s journey to bring him home go to: http://carmichaeladoption.blogspot.com/