May 28, 2013

Enabling families to take care of their children with special needs

Some times the most refreshing thing is to hang out with families who truly love and care for their children. Especially families who love and care for their children with special needs.  Families that are doing their best to help their children grow and succeed, despite difficult circumstances.  In a culture that widely believes that children with special needs are a result of witch craft. So, so refreshing.

Some times though, despite all the love and care, families still need a little help.

Meet James.
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James was born with hydrocephalus and just recently had his shunt surgery sponsored (International Voice of the Orphan)in a near by city.  You can read more about his back story here: Little James needs our help. He is now healthy and happy and finally starting to meet milestones a child without special needs easily reaches.

But James still is not walking.  He is close, however his feet are rounded in such a way that makes it difficult for him to walk.  Today, after several phone calls and meetings, Emma and I were able to hook James and his family up with an amazing organization. This organization provides physical therapy to children with special needs right here in this area.  It was exciting.  James loved it there.  The people were all so nice.  No prejudices or cold shoulders.  It was perfect.  And now we can step back and let this family do their thing.  They have the tools and resources now to provide what James needs.  He is going to thrive and I can't wait to watch from a distance.

This is something I love.  Enabling a family to take care of their child with special needs. It really is amazing. One less child abandoned to grow up in an orphanage.  One less child left alone.  One less family beiliving the stigma about children with special needs. One less.

Thankful for these brave parents. Just thankful.
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May 27, 2013

when you leave the orphanage, they are left crying

I don't know how to help people understand this problem. I want them to see, I want them to truly understand how horrifying it is.  How vast and heart breaking.  How real.  Real children.  Real babies.  The situation is real and I honestly don't understand how people can ignore it.  My brain literally cannot comprehend how people can act like it doesn't exist. 

In an orphanage there are many things that surround you as soon as you enter the gates. Children and babies being the main thing.  You play and cuddle and tickle and give kisses, all the time praying that you can give enough love and attention to remind their little hearts that they are loved.  You hear a wide variety of giggles and children playing around outside.  You feed and wash and dress.  There is a ton of poop and boogers and vomit. 

However, the hardest part for me is the crying.  Everywhere I turn I hear crying.

The everyday normal crying I can process.  The crying I can fix is livable.

But the crying I can't fix is unbearable.  The crying that is let loose when I walk away.  I think the reason it breaks my heart so much is because I don't want to walk away.  I want to stay.  I want to bring them with me.  When babies and children cry, they need to be comforted, there is a reason they are crying.  In an orphanage those cries are ignored and there is no one to comfort them, they are on their own.  I want to stay and comfort them, but I have to leave and they have to stay.  

The crying of one 14 month old when I put him down to leave for the day.  I look back and see him screaming reaching out his arms for me.  He will be left to spend the rest of the evening eating rocks, roughly fed and changed, and then dumped in his crib until the next morning. And I walk away.

The crying the skeleton of a baby cries when I put him down.  So tiny and pitiful.  But there is nothing I can do, I have to go.  I have to leave him in his tiny crib in the corner of a tiny dark room.  I doubt any one will check in on him again until supper. 

The screaming I hear from across the building.  As I walk past on my way out I see it's a new baby, alone in a crib with a rough IV in it's arm.  Screaming and burning up with fever.  I try to comfort it, but the screaming continues, all while it looks right into my eyes, not breaking eye contact for a second.  I have to leave, all I can do is say a prayer and blow some kisses.  The screaming intensifies as I walk away.  

I have to leave.  They are left behind.

Real children and babies.  And some days the injustice of it all makes me go mad.

This is why I am here.
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May 22, 2013

Summer hosting from Ukraine

Some people (mostly family and friends) might think our family is a little crazy.  And yeah, we most likely are.  But we can't really help it.  God has opened our eyes so clearly to the lost and lonely children out there.  We know the damage orphanages have on children.  And on the flip side we know how much love we have to share.  We look around and see the room in our house and family.   We don't have a lot, but we have enough...plus some to share.

That's why we are happy to share, we are hosting a boy from Ukraine this summer.  And this little boy just happens to be an orphan currently living in an orphanage.

Honestly this is something we have always wanted to do.  Truly.  Adoption is great, but it is not always possible to go through an international adoption.  So do we just sit back and wash our hands of all the children waiting over seas?  Um, no.  Sorry guys, we just can't do it.  So when we heard that a hosting program was allowing Canadian families to join their program this year, we were thrilled.  Sign us up! 

Meet Ruslan (Roo-slahn).  
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Did your heart just a melt?  Yeah, ours too.

Questions?  Always.  Let me explain things a bit more. 

What does summer hosting mean?
Summer hosting is a program where orphans are given the chance to be hosted outside of their country  A little like an exchange student.  Children travel from their orphanages to spend summer holidays (and winter holidays sometimes) with families in America (and Canada!).  The children get to experience a healthy loving family, for many children this is the first time they have experienced that.  They get to learn more English, expand their world view.  And it is basically an all around awesome experience for them.

When will Ruslan be with you?
July and August.

Ruslan is an orphan?
Yes, he is.  For whatever reasons.  We don't have details and they are not ours to share if we did.  He is legally free to be adopted internationally.  

How old is Ruslan?
Ruslan is 10 years old.  We are all thrilled to have another boy in the house!

What will you do with him?
Life!  He'll come to the pool with us.  Ride bikes and play in the yard with the kids.  Watch movies in the evening and roast marshmallows.  He'll do everything we do.  Most importantly we can't wait to show him how loved he is by God.  That he is so special.  Church and VBS will be a most! :)

Didn't your dad just have a stroke?
Yes dad had a stroke a while back.  He was actually still in rehab when we found out about Ruslan.  My dad is doing amazing though.  He arrived home a few days after I left for Uganda.  Rehab was full and ran out of beds so they sent dad home.  Turns out our tiny town actually has one of the best physical therapy units in our area, and dad is doing amazing at home!  We have a low key summer a head of us because of the stroke.  So why not add another child to the mix?

How are you going to handle another child?
Ruslan is a blessing, not another child to handle.  We are so excited to have him.  Yes we may have hard days and it won't be all roses, but he is worth it.  And besides, what's one more?  We already have extra kids hanging around our house and we love it! 

Won't it be hard to send him back?
Yes, I'm sure it will be hard.  We'll miss him when he leaves and I bet Ruslan will have a bit of an adjustment going back to his orphanage after being in a family.  But hosting is never a forever thing.  All the kids who are hosted know this is just a summer program and that they will be going back when it is over.  And our hope and prayer is that us hosting Ruslan will just be a stepping stone for him to find his forever family.
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If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask.  I'd be more then willing to fill you in as best as I can!!

May 2, 2013

Kanani's 5th Birthday. Answered prayer & peace || Reece's Rainbow waiting child

I am totally late with this post and am scheduling it for while I'm flying over to Uganda.  Better late then never right?
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Starting in December I started praying that somehow Kanani's grant would hit $5,000 by April.  She turned 5 in April.  I don't know when but sometime in that month she had a birthday.  For some reason I just really wanted her grant to hit that nice number of $5,000 in honor of her day, and to help her get just a bit more exposure towards finding a family.  Once April hit and my plans for Uganda started taking form I realized that prayer was most likely not going to get answered.  But I kept praying anyway.

Back in January I shared how Russia closed it's doors towards Americans adopting their children (One tiny Picture).  Everyone hoped that things would change, important meetings happened between official people trying to figure out a solution   The outcome?  There will not be a solution   It's final.  And because there is no hope for things to reopen in the future, grant funds were moved from waiting children in Russia to waiting children in other countries.  Devastating.  I can't even imagine what the families already in process for these children are going through.  But beauty can come out of ashes. Confused yet?

I am honored to share that Kanani was gifted with my sweet Sophia/Shannon's grant money.  How much does Kanani now have in her grant?  A total of $5,312.  Yes.  Her grant hit $5,000 and beyond! And all though I wish the situation was different, I'm amazed how God can answer prayers even through a bad situation.

Happy 5th birthday Sweet girl!!  I love you so much and am praying for you always.  Hold on please. 
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And as an extra bonus.  I have peace now about my Sophia/Shannon.  For the longest time I was picturing her in an institution with her head shaved, I was heart broken for her.  And all though I still want her in a family and will always remember and pray for her, I have peace.  I received some new pictures of her a while back.  And she seems to be doing amazing and is in a good place.  Praying that the One who loves her more then I do will continue to guide her and keep her safe.  And I'm still believing in a miracle for her future, that she will one day live in a family. My love. 
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