Friday, December 3, 2010

Opening hearts & eyes

My friends, I feel like I owe you all an apology. Over the past several weeks, I feel like God has been tugging at my heart, trying to show me new ways to use my life, my family's story, my sphere of influence (no matter how small), to serve Him. But I refused. He urged me to have a tender heart, to see past my own pain and speak for those who can't speak for themselves. But I rebelled. I was afraid to see the hurt and injustice He was trying to show me. My own pain from this year was still too recent, too raw, and I didn't think I could bear anyone else's on top of my own.

But tonight… I opened my heart. I literally feel like I had built a wall around myself, around the Down syndrome part of my life, and refused to let God use it in any way other than what I thought I could handle.  And tonight I tore the wall down.  And now I'm asking for your help.

Have you heard of an organization called Reece's Rainbow? If you love someone with Down syndrome, you may well have; if you are new to the world of Down syndrome, maybe not so much. Reece's Rainbow is an "international Down syndrome orphan ministry", devoted to helping children with DS around the world find families to love and care for them through adoption. I've known about Reece's Rainbow for a while now. My new DS blogging buddies have been blogging about it. People at the DownsEd conference I attended talked about it. I even saw a bumper sticker for it when I was out one day. God has been nudging me, urging me to check it out… but I just couldn't. I knew that it would only take one glance at those faces on their site, and I would want to save them all.

I was right.

Tonight I got on the Reece's Rainbow site. I read. I cried. I donated. I fell in love with sweet little faces. I wondered what would happen to my precious Roo if he had been put in one of those orphanages. I wondered if one of those children might one day be mine.

My heart is broken for these sweet babies. Adoption has always been near and dear to my heart, but until this year I had never even considered the need for parents willing to adopt children with Down syndrome. I would never have thought that children with Down syndrome were still placed in institutions in some countries. I had never given much thought to children with Down syndrome, period. And now I see them. God has opened my eyes to a whole group of people—people made in His image, just like me—who need help. And love. And a home.

Can I just share a few of these children who really touched my heart? I'm not going to post pictures here, just in case I'm crossing any lines I'm not supposed to… but you can find them at the Reece's Rainbow web site…

  • Leeza
    Girl, Born  May 21, 2008
    Sweet Leeza has Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome.  She was born with a heart murmur, but physically she is healthy.  She is severely impacted by the two of these medical conditions, and is quite low functioning at this time.   Adoptive families who have visited with her say she is darling, responsive, and will so benefit from having a loving family environment to grow up in.
  • NoahBoy, Born January 17, 2008
    Noah is a sweet little munchkin who is waiting for his forever family.  He has blonde hair and blue eyes.
    From his medical records:  Heart murmur, open arterial canal, hyperplasia of aorta, open oval window. 
    Regrettably, this orphanage is one of the poorer ones, with very little outside aid and very little hope.    All of the children are tiny and undernourished.  These children are immediately transferred at 4, and have little chance of survival where they are sent.  All of our waiting children need families, but these have a critical need.  Please consider one of these children soon!!
  • Evan
    Boy, Born June 5, 2008
    Evan recently transferred to this baby house. He was born with a heart defect, but was blessed to already have surgery and is doing great now! He is so young, and all three of these little boys could be adopted together!
    From one of our adoptive families who visited with him in May 2010: " Evan would give us a big smile when we would touch his hand. He loved for us to just hold him and would cry if we put him down. He sits by himself and is trying to crawl. He can scoot to get to where he wants to go" . 
  • Danil
    Boy, Born April 18, 2007
    Oh, we FINALLY have new photos and info about little Danil!   Danil is another special case where he has birth parents who love him dearly, and who want only the best life possible for him.  They have come to us desperately seeking a loving adoptive family for Danil, and would ilke to have a semi-open relationship with his new family if possible.  What an incredible opportunity to provide a wonderful life for this beautiful child, and to share the gift of his growth and achievement with his bio family.
     Danil most likely has MOSAIC Down syndrome.  He is completely healthy and very high functioning.  Even at 3, he knows his letters, colors, shapes, etc.  He loves books, he loves to run and play like a typical little boy.  He has known the love of his parents, and is doing very very well.   He eats on his own, is nearly potty trained, and will make a precious addition to any family.  He is a social and affectionate child and is an orphanage favorite.  MORE PHOTOS AVAILABLE! 
  • Heath
    Boy, Born April 8, 2001
    Heath is a sweet little boy who desperately needs a family.    

    Heath is a nine year old boy with Down Syndrome. He is tiny in stature. His feet hardly reach the edge of his shared wheelchair. Because of his age, he has already been transferred from the stimulating environment of his baby house to a dull and underfunded mental institute for boys ages 6-18. He is no longer the youngest boy in his group, but he is certainly among the smallest.
    Heath is not a recent transfer. He has lived in the stifling boredom of institution life for a long time. He has lost the vivacity of life at the baby houses. In his three years at the institute, he has been given nothing of his own. He has not seen a book or a toy. He has never been gathered into anyone's loving arms. He is a very lonely little fellow in desperate need of love and comfort.
    We have few other details on Heath. He has been seen in a wheelchair, so he may not be able to walk. We don't know if or how well he talks, or any other details on his medical condition. We do know that he is a cute, chubby-cheeked, dirty and neglected lonely little lost boy who needs a mother more than almost anyone else in the world.
Oh, my friends, these are just a few of the 200+ children with Down syndrome listed with Reece's Rainbow. My heart aches for all those children growing up in orphanages… but many of these children only get the "luxury" of an orphanage for 3-4 years before they are moved to an institution. And that thought is just absolutely unbearable to me.

I still worry for Roo, for his future. I worry about whether or not I'm doing his therapy with him often enough, whether I'll be a good advocate for him in school, about the teasing he'll almost assuredly endure, about the jobs and opportunities that will be available to him. But my worries for Roo and their weight on my heart absolutely pale in comparison to the complete heartbreak I feel when I look at the future these children might have.

So I'm asking each of you… will you help? It only takes a moment and can be done in one of several ways:
  • Donate to Reece's Rainbow Voice of Hope fund
  • Visit the Our Waiting Children link on the RR site. Read through a few descriptions and donate to the grant fund for a child (or two)
  • Visit the Sponsor a Family link and donate to a child who has a family in the process of trying to adopt them.
  • Pray. Pray and pray and pray some more for these children, for the families who want to adopt them but don't have the money, for the caregivers and workers who interact with them.
  • These ideas and more are available on the RR site. Please take a few minutes of your time to open your eyes and hearts to these children.
And if nothing I have written has touched you yet, take a few minutes to watch this video. I will be very honest with you, I haven't watched the whole thing. I am actually sick to my stomach from just the first 2-3 minutes, and can't bear any more.

Friends, we live a sheltered life, where we worry about which toys are developmentally best and where our children should go to school and how old they should be when they get a cell phone. These children… well, they are lucky if they get a chance to live any kind of real life at all. Please help me to bring them home, wherever that home may be.


Casey&Connor'sMommy said...

Katy- Thanks for posting this for the people who follow your blog. RR touches my heart and I want to bring these kids home but can't because money is such a huge obstacle in the adoption process. I was baking cakes for Casey and Connor's birthday tomorrow and thinking that these babies in the orphanages have never had a birthday party and I was sobbing. It breaks my heart. Just by writing this blog you have helped to make a difference. God Bless you.

Patti said...

God is doing such an awesome thing in our hearts!! So glad to be on this journey with you:)

Elisabeth said...

I will never forget the first day I went to the Reece's Rainbow website. I cried for hours! I am praying that someday God will provide a way for us to adopt one of the sweet children there. If not, or until then, we will donate and pray for the hearts of others to be opened to the plight of these kids.

I have enjoyed reading your blog!