Meeting Ulysses!

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Let me just say, adoption takes a long time.  I sent my last paperwork off on May 19th. Immigration Approval happened on May 31st. We didn’t get the results of our FBI finger prints until the week of June 20th…a full month after we submitted them.  Then we had to mail our paperwork to a family who was going to Ukraine.  The family took our paperwork and submitted it for us…then the office that schedules the adoptions (DAP office) closes down until mid-July…On July 12th, nearly 2 months after we’d finished the last of our paperwork, we are officially submitted in Ukraine, finally! At this point in the adoption I know the timetable for this is out of my hands, I do my best, but leave the rest to God. We knew we didn’t want to travel in July, that was our only stipulation for the adoption.  July was a busy month for us. My husband had lots of speaking engagements and it just wasn’t feasible. So guess when we traveled 🙂

Wednesday, July 20 @ 7am.  I am laying in bed when my cell phone rings, while my kids run around the house and my husband tries to control the craziness.  A lady on the other end asks, “Jennifer?”…”Yes…” “I have your travel date. Your DAP appointment (appointment to accept an adoption) is July 28th, you leave in 6 days!”…

Everything had taken so long up until that point.  We anticipated leaving in March or April, but here we were in July and now all of the sudden we’ve been given 6 days notice! And we’re off, cancelling several speaking engagements my husband had scheduled for the end of the month, oddly most seemed okay with the cancellation except the people at the church he cancelled with, hopefully one day they will understand…

We decided to take our 3 kids and invite a friend to come help us take care of them while we had our visits in the orphanage, since they weren’t allowed to visit with us.  So we take our 6 person party on a 15 hour plane trip across the world.  Our kids slept only 2 hours on the trip. We arrived to Kiev, Ukraine on July 26, 2016.

In Kiev, we had our children’s luggage lost and a leaky toilet which occupied all our towels…since there was no dryer we were constantly drying towels from the floor and not using any to wash our bodies.  With the kids not having clean clothes and us not having clean towels I remember our few days in Kiev as being pretty dirty.

We met with our lawyer, who showed us pictures of Ulysses. He said repeatedly that Ulysses doesn’t have much of a chance to be adopted if we don’t, but we are under no obligation to adopt him.  He has special needs and will always have special needs, we needed to do what was best for our family and our three children that we already have.  Nobody will think less of us if we decided to choose another child.  We decided to proceed and meet Ulysses and decide if we’d like to adopt him (this is part of the procedure in Ukraine adoptions).

We woke up at 6 am and took a van on a 6 hour drive to Mykolaiv, Ukraine.  We arrived by lunch on Friday and made our first visit as soon as we dropped our luggage and children off at our apartment.  It’s a half hour drive on a very bumpy road ( I am 6.5 months pregnant) while the driver is going upwards of 120 KM/hr (75 mph).  Wow, that’s nauseating!

We meet Ulysses on July 29th around 2pm. We arrive in a remote location where we are put in a small room and nurses and staff members file in and wheel in a blonde, skinny, scared looking little boy.  They pick him up and thrust him in my arms and snap a picture as he screams and thrashes.  I am told repeatedly this day how damaged he is and how he will always be like this, cranky and upset.  Over and over we were told that we didn’t have to accept this child.  We should take our time and make a good choice for our family.  This first visit we sang to him and touched him.  He had no interest in toys.  He’s not at that stage yet. He sits in his stroller.  That’s his life. After an hour of touching and talking to him, he reaches up to grab my hands, it seems like he’s enjoying the interaction we have. Our visit ends after an hour and a half.  We are left to decide if we move forward and adopt Ulysses or not.

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Kacey sings “Gilligan’s Island”  theme song to Ulysses.

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Ulysses’ Nurse attempts to calm him down.

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Aging out, Dying and Transferred Soon

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Three orphaned kids, with unique stories.  Thousands of miles away, a family, with their own very unique story.  United by the compassion of one Mother’s loving heart.

Ricky-225x300First child.  Ricky.  Ricky is a boy who grew up with his mother, until she died, and he became an orphan. Ricky never forgot what it was like to have a home and when the placing agency staff would come by for orphanage visits Ricky would always ask if anyone had asked about him, holding onto the rapidly diminishing hope that he might get a second chance at a loving family.  Ricky ages out in August.

elizabeth-225x300Second child.  Elizabeth.  Elizabeth is a beautiful five year old girl with a terminal diagnosis.  She lives in an orphanage where medicines and therapies are hard to come by and everyday her disease (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) eats away her muscles a little more.  The orphanage begged for a family for her and although people sympathized with her and prayed for her, the family that knew they could help her was no where to be found.

beth2-225x300Third child.  Beth.  A beautiful five year old girl who would be transferred to an institution, one that doesn’t have the best reputation for keeping little girls safe and healthy.  A sweet little girl, who’s unable to walk, would be more vulnerable in the institution surrounded by much older adults and children.  She would be almost rescued from that fate, but a family committing to her,  was forced to un-commit to her.  Leaving her with just 2 months to find a family and be adopted before her transfer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vcmUed48Z8&feature=youtu.be

Enter Amanda, a mother of three young children.  Two with terminal illness.

Amanda read Ricky’s story and it touched her heart.  She shared it with her husband and they felt moved to start the adoption process for him.  Ricky would not age out without a family!

Two of Amanda’s children are, like Elizabeth, also diagnosed with the terminal illness, Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  When Amanda learned of little Elizabeth and her fate in the orphanage, she did some research, talked to her husband and they knew what they needed to do…they couldn’t leave her to die in the orphanage when they knew they could give her a better life at home with their children. They also committed to this girl who seemed to miraculously enter their lives at just the right time.

Then there was Beth.  A girl who almost was saved from the institution. Amanda saw that she had a family and then she lost her family.  She knew she needed someone to step up before she went into the orphanage, she feel in love with this little girl, showed her picture to her husband and about a week later her husband came back to her and said, “we can’t leave Beth behind.”

So now, this husband and wife are making their way to the Europe to rescue three kids, all with very different stories, but united by the compassion of a loving family.  These three kids all live in different areas of their country, which increases the cost of adoption dramatically.  The family needs about $20,000 more to adopt all three children.  Raising that much is hard, but doable.

I hope you’ve been inspired by this family like I have been. If you’ve read this far would you please help in some way? These are the three things the family needs at this time.

  1. Pray for the family.
  2. Donate to this family.  https://www.youcaring.com/mcquinn-family-553804/update/492976
  3. Share their story…you never know who will read the story and be prompted to help out.

This family is brave and they need positive thoughts and prayers and support. Please help them anyway you feel you can.

Again, to donate, please visit:

https://www.youcaring.com/mcquinn-family-553804/update/492976

http://reecesrainbow.org/107851/sponsormcquinn

 

 

 

Critical Condition, Critical Need

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Yasmine2

This beautiful girl is Yasmine.  Yasmine has a family that has committed to her.  She has already met her mother, who loves her so dearly.  Yet, news just broke that she is in critical condition in a hospital in Europe with kidney problems.  Unfortunately, the medication she needs is not sold in Europe.  So, Yasmine’s mother, while raising money for her adoption is also needing to buy medicine and send it to her overseas.

Yasmine needs medicine. The medicine she needs costs  $145 for 100 pills, which last only 16 days!   Yasmine needs to be healthy for a few more months until her mom can go get her and bring her home so she can get all the medication that she needs and treatment that will get her healthy. This girl has a constant smile on her face, despite her critical condition.  She has a loving mother and father who want to shower her with all the affection and love that she’s always wanted.

 

Yasmine

 

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Please help however you can…prayers definitely help.  Donating to her medical fund https://www.paypal.com/home ( andersonadoption@gmail.com) will keep her healthy until her parents can get to her.  Please pray for Yasmine.  She’s precious and so loved.

 

 

The Place God Forgot: Part II

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The Place God Forgot: Part II

The Place God Forgot is an orphanage in Eastern Europe. The locals call it that, for good reason (scalding hot bath water for punishment, kids left outside alone in the dark, disabled kids falling out of chairs left on the floor crying). Three orphans who are available for international adoption live at this orphanage; they only get out when a family goes to get them. Three, sweet, lovable, worthy kids. Drew, who I shared in a previous post, is one of the three.  Drew wants to be a firefighter and “wants to help people and never hurt them.” He lives in the “Place God Forgot”…but not for long!

A wonderful family, who already was far into the adoption process has stepped up to adopt sweet Drew.  This family will be perfect for this little guy, they have adopted before and are coming for him in a matter of weeks.  He will have a loving home, where he can play with cars and watch cartoons, best of all, he will have love in his life again.  He will have an older sibling who will no doubt be his best friend.  He will have a loving mom and dad who will smother him with 9 years of hugs and kisses that he has missed.  Adoption is such a miracle.

Drew will soon be free from the unkindness and cruelty that often surround him.  He will be home.

That leaves 2 orphans… Tolan and Yasmine.

I was initially introduced to Tolan back when I started searching for a child to possibly adopt.  I was drawn to him because of his wheelchair.  My husband is in a wheelchair.  And the gigantic pile of books always on his wheelchair (says an adoptive parent). We are avid readers at my house and so that was something else that attracted me to him.  I was introduced to a mother who had met him. She told me how much she adores this boy.  This sweet kid has a unique condition making him pretty immobile. Arthrogryposis or curving of the joints, makes it so this guy can’t grip things in his hands, or move much with his feet.  He does find his own way of doing things, by scooting along on the floor and coloring with his mouth.  This kid is a rock star.  My husband doesn’t have legs and I’m almost never inspired by him (sorry hun)…I watch Tolan’s video and I’m inspired. Great kid. Super intelligent too.  He taught himself many English verbs and enough English to ask  “American mother and Tolan please”…crying, begging, to be taken home and loved.

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Yasmine has kidney issues.  She also has Spina Bifida.  And seemingly always has a smile on her face.  She’s described as “sunshine”. This beautiful child is very sick and getting worse.  Her kidney issues are worsening and she is losing weight and strength.  She needs to be adopted immediately. These pictures were taken about 3 years apart…you can see how seriously she is in need of a family, soon.

2014           Yasmine2

Thankfully, there’s a family that is willing to move forward with the adoption of these too.  They cannot move forward without the necessary funds. Please consider donating to Tolan/Jasmine so their family can rescue them and give them love and life-saving medical treatment.

http://reecesrainbow.org/?s=tolan

http://reecesrainbow.org/1717/yasmine1803

For more information on how to help children with special needs find loving homes, please visit Reecesrainbow.com

 

 

 

 

God’s Timing: Quesenberry Family

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God’s Timing: Quesenberry Family

Natalie and her husband have adopted before.  They have five kids at home and recently felt called to adopt two more from Bulgaria. They choose two kids with special needs, one is blind the other I am unaware what special need he has, both boys. They passed court and are the legal parents of these children, then tragedy struck. Her husband suddenly passed away in their apartment this morning. I can’t imagine how she must be feeling, but I know she is without her best friend in a country far, far away from her family and friends.  She needs financial support because funds are running low AND she needs prayers…lots and lots of prayers.

If you feel inclined to pray for Natalie and her grieving children and her newly adopted kids please do so. She will need strength that only God can give her.

If you feel prompted to help donate, please do so.

https://www.youcaring.com/quesenberry-family-529570

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways” Isaiah 55:8

Its all about God’s timing…had this happen a couple days before the adoption would likely not have happened. These additional kids are suppose to be in her family.  Adoption is a big adjustment, death and adoption is unimaginable.  Please help Natalie and her seven kids however you can.

God bless the Quesenberry family.

Drew and the Place God Forgot

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Drew and the Place God Forgot

The Place God Forgot.  That’s what the locals call an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  Its a place a little boy lives.  A little boy who wants to be a firefighter and help people, to save them–never hurt them.  In his interview those are his words.  He’s a little boy who’s never known the love of a family, but has friends…he had friends anyway, before he was moved to “The Place God Forgot”.  From an adoptive mother who spent some time at that orphanage, let me paint you a picture of what that place is like. Get out your Kleenex.

You enter the orphanage and you see beautiful children who all struggle with their mobility.  Some can walk with a walker, others require a wheelchair. The kids are seven and up, but they look a lot younger than that.  A boy comes in.  Blonde hair, blue eyes.  He struggles to walk, almost looks like he’s tripping with each step, but he gives you a warm smile. You smile. His smile lights up  his innocent face.  You hear crying from the bedrooms. It continues.  You know a nurse is back there and she’s taking care of it. Crying continues.   Finally, after 10 minutes (but what feels like an eternity) you go investigate.  The nurse  is indeed back in the bedrooms, but she’s not taking care of it.  A little girl with cerebral palsy has fallen onto the floor and can’t lift herself up.  You gently lift the child and put her back in her chair and leave the room.  The nurse is silent. You return to your seat.  You watch as the blonde haired boy speaks out of turn, a nurse punishes him with severe slap to the head, his eyes start to water, but he doesn’t dare cry.  Later your child will tell you the other forms of punishment…immobile children are left in very hot baths…occasionally they are left outside in the dark and the cold, alone.  You are saddened, but not surprised. You recall all the sweet faces and longing eyes you saw at the orphanage.  The ones who weren’t adopted.

This is Drew.  Before he was moved to his current orphanage, he lived in the orphanage where this video was taken.  He didn’t have a family, but he felt loved. This is his video from before his move. Before he moved to “The Place God Forgot”.

Woman: How old are you.    Drew: 5, no 7 Woman: do you go to school yet? Drew: not yet Woman: do you go to lessons? Drew: yes Woman: what do you do there? Drew: We do gym. We do the exercises they show us. We also sing. Woman: Do you know how to draw? Drew: Yes Woman: do you do crafts? Drew: Shakes his head yes. Woman: (Asks if that craft was done by him) Drew: Yes Woman: what is this craft made out of? Drew: its made from little rocks Woman: what else do you like to do during your lessons? Drew: we play with cars. Also many different types of crafts Woman: *she asks him to say a verse* Drew: *Begins to say a poem in Ukrainian* Woman: do you have any friends who you play with? Drew: I have little Nikita, Dennis, and Oleg Woman: What do you like to play? Drew: All of us are always playing, telling stories, show each other toys. I show them toys and they ask me “what kind of toy is that?” “what is the name of that toy?” My friends are always around me, they never leave. When my sister comes they run from me but then I run after them and I go find Oleg. I want to become a firefighter! I want to save people, I don’t want them to get burned I will always help them, I will never hurt them.

Drew currently is available for adoption and  Reece’s Rainbow is helping raise grant money on his behalf.

If you feel so inclined to help Drew be adopted, here’s his link.  http://reecesrainbow.org/?s=drew

Can you imagine the look on Drew’s face when his parents find him and come to take him home. One day he will get to be loved, he will get to be freed… Oh, if I could be there. If I could be in “The Place God Forgot” for that moment…it would be Heaven.

To learn more about helping orphaned children with disabilities, please visit Reecesrainbow.com

**This is a modified blog post, the original stated that Drew had a family coming for him, and sadly this family wasn’t able to due to paperwork issues.  He is still available for adoption and desperately needs a home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A $26,000 Ripple

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A $26,000 Ripple

Three things you never wanted to know about me…

1. I am technologically illiterate.  I quite literally have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to technology.  In fact, on a recent trip to California with my sister, I tried pumping gas.  I took so long trying to figure it out the gas attendant started yelling at me from inside the station.  He was actually quite nice, we went in and he said, “people come from all across the world, but only people from Oregon have trouble pumping their own gas.” For me, its not just gas, but everything. Its pretty bad. So when I decided to do my own blog, I had to look up words like “Widget” and “Gadget” (which apparently are the same thing) it took me, maybe 6 hours to spit out a page worth of material.

Because I’m computer illiterate, I’ve never followed a blog and I had no way of knowing if people were following me. I shared the blog with my adoption buddies, I figured most of them would look at our family picture and “like” my blog out of courtesy, which I would have been absolutely okay with.  Turns out, a few of them read it and liked it. At least one person not connected to Reece’s Rainbow read it as well.  I don’t even know how someone would randomly find a blog written by a prospective adoptive parent, but at least one person, more technologically savvy than I, did figured it out, read my blog, and responded in a big way.

2. I don’t like the spotlight. Even after I finished my blog I debated for a long while whether or not I should post it. I finally decided to try to overcome my social anxiety and document my feelings for when my boy would eventually come home.

3. My New Years Eve.  My kids have been sick since Christmas (family tradition, we like to get sick on holidays). I knew my New Years Eve outlook would be caring for my littles as we “partied” at home near some garbage cans and bowls. I went to Facebook to check my messages, and a friend who encouraged me to start fundraising just a few days before had written me.  Essentially she said, “Jennifer, I’m kind of freaking out…I pray it’s not a mistake, you’re basically fully funded.” If anyone has looked into international adoption you know its not cheap.  Last I saw, some kindhearted person had donated $10 to my account, for which I was so grateful. I looked on my account and it read $25,714.70…WHAT!!! Someone had donated $26,000 to my account (minus paypal fees)! I believe it was the single largest online donation ever received on Reece’s Rainbow. I was confused, amazed, surprised and a million other feelings.  Very grateful, but also guilty that “more deserving” families hadn’t received the money. I was waiting for someone to tell me there had been some mistake.  There was no mistake.  Someone had single handedly changed my life.

Normally, families have 4-6 months to fundraise for their adoption, after a few days I am finished. I know I don’t “deserve” to have that money any more than an orphan “deserves” a crib and an institution. I did next to nothing to get it.  God touched two gracious hearts who subsequently touched mine.  What do I do next? How do I repay such a debt to my Heavenly Father? I confess, I have no idea.

There’s a song I like from church, it goes: Because I have been given much I too must give.  Because of thy great bounty Lord each day I live. I shall divide my gifts from Thee, with every brother that I see.  Who has the need of help, from me?

Scott Adams once said, “remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” God obviously wanted us to be more than adoptive parents, he wants us to bless other people’s adoption the way we were blessed.  I can’t thank the donors enough.  There’s not much I can do for them, but I can do more for Him.

Adopting parents are the some of the most religious people I have ever met. They take out loans, they sell anything they can, one family even moved to the Ukraine to help advocate for orphans!  I’ve heard many times, talk of “say yes to God”.  These people give up everything they have to help kids they don’t know, in a land they are not familiar with, to say yes to Him.  I am replacing my donation site with two other well deserving families. Connected to “Donate” are two links of other families that could use help.  Please look at them.  Read their stories.  Pray for them.  If you feel inspired to donate to their adoption fund, please “say yes to God”.  May our Father in Heaven bless us all in this upcoming year as we respond with a “yes” to Him in whatever way He asks us.

Where will this $26,000 ripple lead me? I hope it leads me to where the Lord wants me to be.

For more information on adopting children with special needs, visit Reecesrainbow.com.

Europe Or Bust

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Europe Or Bust

This is a blog inspired by my (soon to be) son “Ulysses” who lives in the Eastern Europe.  He is blind. He is alone, in a crib, without anyone to hold him or comfort him.  He is six.  He’s been in a crib most of his life. I am his mother…

I have always wanted to be a foster parent.  My husband and I foster parented for 9 months, a sweet little girl who went back to live with her loving father. It was a neat experience.  So positive, so wonderful. I never want to do it again…I don’t like selling chickens, let alone sending kids away. I know foster parenting, probably isn’t the thing for me.

My husband gave me the slightest hint that he wanted to have another child…I’m sure he was thinking a year down the road we might try for another baby…so, I asked him if we could look into adoption.  He agreed…again, thinking a year or more down the road…poor guy…that night I spent pouring over pictures of orphans all across the globe, not having any idea of what I was doing…just looking for my child.  Looking back on it, I know there are better ways to go about adoption, but this is how I was led to Ulysses.

Since I had no idea what I was doing I  contacted my social worker from foster parenting who dropped off a big stack of paperwork to get me started with the adoption process of a child in the foster care system. She was very helpful and seemed very excited that we wanted to adopt. I wasn’t sure if domestic adoption was what I felt I was being led to, so I also went on a few different international adoption websites. That’s when I found Reece’s Rainbows and Ulysses.

When I saw Ulysses I cried.  I cried and cried. Then a resolve was placed in my heart that was stronger than any I had felt in a long time, I’m going to adopt this child. I stopped crying, I felt peaceful, happy. Every time I look at his picture I smile and feel as if he’s mine already.

Why did we end up choosing international adoption? Aside from the fact that I fell in love with a boy, sentenced to a life stuck in a crib…Statistics.

  •  Children age out of the orphanages at 16 years old.
  •  10% – 15% of these children commit suicide before they reach age 18
  • 60% of the girls become prostitutes
  • 70% of the boys become hardened criminals
  • The children with ANY type of a disability (physical or mental whether big or small) are sent to mental institutions for the remainder of their lives.

These statistics are painful. Its overwhelming and sad, but its also reality for the thousands of kids who are orphaned in a foreign country.

There are 132 million orphan children that need a family. It makes me feel overwhelmed to say the least.  Even if I could adopt several, what I could really do is next to nothing. Then I came across a quote from Edward Everett Hale, “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”

Less than 1% of orphans will be adopted into loving families. I cannot save everyone, but I know I’m suppose to save someone.  So for me and my family, its Europe or Bust! Hang on Ulysses, your family is coming for you.

For more information on how to help orphans with special needs, visit reecesrainbow.org.