Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Day of the Angel Tree!

Today is not only the last day of 2012, but it is the last day of Reece's Rainbow's Angel Tree campaign.  The little one our family has been sponsoring is a beautiful little love only $200 away from meeting her $1,000 goal.  While we are not adopting her, it is our hope that in time (sooner rather than later!) a family will see her and commit to making her part of their family.  Her grant will go to that family and $1,000 in the grand scheme of things may not be much, but it is better than $0.  Every little bit helps:  $5, $10, $20!

So what part will you play in sweet little Camille's life?  Donate to her grant?  Pray for her?  Be her mother or father?

Your eyes have been cannot pretend not to see.....

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Why We Should Care

I have been a horrible blogger when it has come to my Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree child, Camille.  Thankfully, however, her grant has still grown.  But my heart aches for her.  For her situation.  You see, she resides in Russia.  More than likely if you are reading this blog entry you know about the bill that the Russian President signed yesterday.  I want to be very transparent and say that I do not blame the Russian people as a whole.  From what I have been reading they are just as disgusted as many of us are here in the States.  Please pray.  Pray for President Putin to have an encounter with Jesus.  Please pray that any adoptions hanging in the balance would come to fruition.  And please please please pray for the orphans of Russia.

If you are skeptical about the dire need of these children here is a link to a blog entry written by an adoptive mother.  She adopted her little boy from a Russian institution and goes into great detail on her experience.

Why We Should Care

Friends, these children are not a "product".  It does not matter that these little ones are not "Made in the USA".  If that is how you feel then God help you.

Finally, here is Camille.  Does she look like a product just off the assembly line to you?  No, I see a sweet little love with lots of potential and love to give; to receive.  This precious little one's future is in God's hands.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Navigating the Backroads of Holland

I wanted to take a moment and share a little bit more about our new adventure in Holland with our youngest son, Sammy.  This past week he had his evaluation with the physical therapist and it went extremely well.  She had the eight page report from the occupational therapist so there was a fairly good idea as to what needed to be looked at and evaluated.

Overall Sammy was cooperative which helped the PT learn more about Sammy's physical condition.  It turns out that our littlest man will need to be sporting some AFOs in the near future in order to straighten out his legs.  It will also make walking easier for him.  While Sammy can indeed walk, he is extremely clumsy and has frequent falls.  It is not uncommon to receive a phone call from the school to learn that Sammy has fallen and has ice on his head.  AFOs stand for "Ankle-Foot Orthotics".  They will be custom made and will fit Sammy perfectly.  Here is an example of what a set of AFOs look like:

Obviously Sammy will not have pink anywhere on his AFOs but you get the idea.

At this juncture we do not know how long Sammy will need to sport these lovely accessories but we are grateful that Sammy's walking will soon become easier.  It will also give him more confidence so he can participate more in PE class and recess.

The PT also determined that Sammy is very weak physically, particularly in his legs, and then even more so on the left side of his body.  While she is not the one to make a formal diagnosis of any sort she, too, is suspecting that Sammy could have a mild form of Cerebral Palsy (CP).  It is also being reaffirmed that Sammy needs to be seen by a neurologist to rule some other things out and to make certain that he has never had a stroke or seizure.

In the meantime we will begin PT right away and Sammy's first official session is next week!  He will have PT once a week and OT twice a week.  In time he will become stronger, more proficient in his  fine motor skills, and strengthen those sweet legs of his.  All of this has suddenly become overwhelming for him and while at first he had a great attitude, the past few days he has been kind of worried and wondering how his friends at school will accept him once he has his AFOs.  I have assured that precious boy over and over that no matter what the underlying cause is for his physical weaknesses, he is still the same Sammy Wammy Bo Bammy that he was just a few short months ago.  So please pray for him.  Pray that he would have peace over the next several weeks as his friends learn more about his physical condition.

Life has been so full of twists and turns over the past year but I know that the Lord has been carrying our family through it all.  This situation with Sammy is no different and I have no doubt that the Lord has grand plans for Sammy to shine through despite this bump in the road.  I just have to share a little conversation that Sammy and I had on our way home from the PT evaluation this past week.

Sammy had been quiet for the first 20 minutes of the car ride home (it is over an hour each way to PT!) and out of nowhere he opened up a little about what had just taken place.

"Mommy, you know, Dima has helped you get ready for me.  I mean, having him made you less scared of what is happening to me.  So maybe, maybe I am helping you get prepared for another child.  Like, maybe there is a little girl out there that needs you and daddy and 4 brothers.  But maybe she has special needs, too.  Maybe she has CP but worse than what I maybe have."

I didn't answer my sweet boy but I looked at him through the rearview mirror and smiled.  God does sure have a funny way of using people and circumstances in our lives, but we truly do not know just what God is up to at this time.  Regardless, I love my son's heart and how even though he is trying to understand why he is going through this trial, he is still thinking of others.  And Sammy is so right.  Dima has really helped me get tough on the inside.  Having a child or children with special needs brings things out in a mother you never knew you had in you!  I know that even if Sammy does have a mild form of CP it isn't anything that we cannot handle with God leading the way on the back roads of Holland.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dima & "Ded Moroz"

Now with the Christmas season in full swing everyone is feeling festive, houses are decorated with lights, little ones dream about what they will receive for Christmas, and there are lots of parties with delicious food.  Sadly that is not the case for many little ones who have no family.  At this very moment there are thousands of little ones in orphanages all over the world languishing and have no idea that Christmas Day will soon be here.  More importantly these same little ones do not even know who Jesus Christ is, that He died for them.  That He loves them.  Instead little ones lay in a crib in their own filth, sometimes for days on end.   For their meal they receive a glass bottle with a makeshift nipple filled with some sort of mash and they choke with every swallow because they are unable to sit up or be held as they try to receive nourishment.

Others who are mobile and more aware know that Christmas is coming but it brings them no joy.  Rather they are sad and wish that "Santa" would bring them a toy or better yet, a family.  For four years that is how our Dima spent Christmas.  He was aware that it was to be a festive time but he was never truly happy.  This year he has been able to open up a little bit about Christmas and it has been heartbreaking to hear.  He has been very clear that Christmas in the Ukraine was sad but here, home with us, Christmas is wonderful.  To Dima Christmas is now probably even magical from his perspective.

Our family does not have Santa come and visit but Dima knows who Father Christmas is.  Last year when he was home for his first Christmas he was not sure what we were doing.  There was no snow, it was hot outside, and he had never truly celebrated Christmas.  This year, however, he is very much aware.  Last weekend we were in Wal-Mart and there was a Santa sitting in a chair greeting everyone as they walked by.  Dima saw him and he was in awe.  His little jaw hit the floor and he whispered in Russian, "Ded Moroz" which means Father Christmas.  I asked Dima if he wanted to go say hello to Father Christmas and as he starred at this larger than life character he silently nodded.  I led Dima over to the Santa and Dima just said in a whisper, "Wow...." and touched Santa's pitiful beard.  It was as though Dima never believed that there ever was a real Father Christmas.  How many times, I wonder, did Dima wish that Father Christmas would come to the orphanage and it never happened?  As I stood back and watched this precious little boy sit in Santa's lap tears sprang to my eyes.

"And what would like for Christmas, little boy?"

Dima shrugged and said, "I dunno".

"Don't you have a special Christmas wish for me?" said Wal-Mart Santa.

"Yanna.  I love you, Yanna!!!  Yanna come home!!!!" Dima hugged himself tight and rocked back and forth as if he was hugging someone.  Yanna.  I knew exactly what he was saying and I chocked back a sob.

"What is a Yanna, little boy?"

"YANNA!" said Dima.

A very confused Santa looked up at me and I could barely speak, "Yanna is his friend from his orphanage in the Ukraine.  They used to play dolls together but she was taken away and put into an institution.  She has CP and cannot walk and the odds of her ever being adopted in her own country are zero".

Santa's eyes filled with tears....this was one Santa who was left speechless and unable to grant this wish.  My eyes filled with tears because I, too, am unable to personally grant this wish.  More than anything I was heartsick that Yanna is warehoused somewhere where her life more than likely has very little joy.

A very sad Wal-Mart Santa handed Dima a tiny candy cane and Dima's face lit up.  He hopped off of Santa's lap and came right over to me, "I love you, Mommy!".  I picked him up, squeezed him tight, kissed his cheek and put him back into the seat of the shopping cart.  I shopped in silence for the rest of the afternoon thinking about what had just played out before myself and a mere mortal trying to spread some Christmas cheer.

For my family Christmas has a different meaning.  It was 2 years ago on Christmas Eve that Eric came to me and said we could commit to adopting Dima.  It was that Christmas Eve I sat up in my Grandma's rocking chair and wept for a boy I had never met.  My heart hurt so much that a child I had never even met was alone and not home with us on Christmas.  Last Christmas we rejoiced that Dima was finally home with us, part of our family, enjoying himself even though he did not at all understand what was going on.  This year, however, all of the glitz and glamour of Christmas seems trite to us.  Yes, even to our boys.  They have repeatedly asked if we could please adopt Dima's friend.  That is all they really want (though they are children and have some other requests as well).  We cannot.  Eric and I are at this time truly unable to adopt another child.  If we could I would be the first in line to go back to the Ukraine alone, even, and bring that beautiful girl home.

Instead we are going to sponsor Dima's former orphanage for Christmas.  Yanna may not be there now, but Dima still has many little friends that are.  Christmas does not happen at the Kremenchuk Baby House without the help of outsiders, usually missionaries, and people that are Stateside.  If you would like to join our family and another family who has adopted from the Kremenchuk Baby House, please go to this link (Operation Christmas Cheer ) and see how you can do so.  Each family is to raise $100 for each orphanage in Ukraine, but I know that these orphanages need more than just toys for the children.  There are diaper needs, clothing, medicine, and one even needed a generator so the orphanage could be heated.  This is all happening through the ministry of Life2Orphans and being facilitated by another adoptive mom, Debbie Hannon.  Imagine the huge difference your family could make in the life of a child who otherwise would be feeling sad on Christmas.

In the meantime, I am personally extremely blessed to have a certain little someone finally see the "magic" of what Christmas is truly about for the first time in his life.  And while we do not celebrate "Ded Moroz", we celebrate "Lisus Khristos" or Jesus Christ and His birth.  In time Dima will fully understand not only does he have a family that loves him unconditionally but he has a Savior who died for him.

Счастливого Рождества!