Friday, July 15, 2016

Be The Answer

Be warned!! This is a lengthy post! Typical Jodi fashion! But it's a post that has been brewing for a long time. It is a post that was sparked by these photos posted months ago. Photos that will forever haunt me.
Kyle
Ksenia

Meet Kyle and Ksenia. They are two children who will never know the touch or a kiss of a mom. Beautiful souls who will never be read a bedtime story or tucked into bed by a dad. Perfect beings who will never walk hand in hand with a brother or sister. Two precious children who were worthy of love but just didn't get it in time. A love that could have saved their lives but instead they died alone, never knowing what that love even felt like. The photos on the left are ones that were on their "waiting child" photolisting. The ones on the right were taken after they were transferred to an adult mental institution. You read that right, an adult mental institution. At the age of 4 or 5 special needs, waiting children who do not have families committed to them are transferred from an orphanage to an institution. Here they are left to endure many years of pain. Most don't even make it past a year because they are picked on, beaten, starved, neglected, tied to a bed, have health issues that are never addressed, cause self inflicted harm, and are left to die. Their bodies and spirits have endured so much, even before their transfer and they just can't hold on any longer. You can see why these photos are haunting, but is it enough to spring others into action? Do you look at these photos and want to help? Or are they easy to ignore because it's not your problem? (I mean that in the harshest/nicest way.) 

It is no surprise that foster care and adoption light my fire. But I am always surprised that more people aren't feeling the heat. Why aren't more followers of Christ, more Christians talking about the orphan crisis? Why does or did the church offer assistance for those wanting to adopt "healthy" babies domestically? But there isn't or wasn't a program to help those in greater need, children who are left abandoned in other countries because they are deemed unworthy? Or children who are truly orphans, because their parents have died from HIV or Ebola? I wonder why it's not taught from the pulpit often that we are responsible to care for the fatherless and needy. Are we fully living our religion found in Matthew 25 and could we do more?

"Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?"

“When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?" 

"Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?"

I cannot explain why others don't feel the same as I do. I do not understand why it's not on everyone's heart. I know there are many more issues that our world is facing and perhaps the orphan crisis is not top on the list. Maybe we don't even look at these scriptures and think of it in terms of orphans. But then I wonder too if it's because many just aren't aware of the need. My heart was only pricked 7 years ago. Adoption was a discussion prior to 7 years ago, but it was never an option until I recognized it was my responsibility to help. It wasn't until I saw 3 girls who were separated from their parents and other 7 siblings because of neglect that I became aware. I went home after meeting them, told my husband we needed to do something and the rest is history. We got licensed to foster, waited a year until our first placement, adopted Liam, then adopted Sara. My heart was changed then and it has never been the same since. I know without a doubt that those little girls prepared my heart for Liam. And Liam prepared my heart for Sara. When I was made aware of children who were neglected in other countries because of their special needs I was ready. Liam taught me that "special needs" wasn't so scary so when I felt the tug to adopt Sara, I knew it was something we could, should, and would do. I do not condemn those who don't feel the same way. But I have to wonder why? Especially those who are able and available? I know the cost scares a lot of people. But it's not the only reason that holds people back and if it is aren't we taught to have the faith of a mustard seed? He will provide. I will say money is the easiest excuse and an easy first response to reply "I don't have $25-$50K." Who does? But I feel there's more to it. People tell me all of the time, "I just couldn't do what you do." Or "You are so amazing?" Let me just respond to both, yes you too can do it and no I am not amazing. I was led by His love, that's it! 

Besides being unaware, here are my feelings as to why we don't take the adoption leap of faith. Either we're too young or too old or we're always waiting. Waiting until we have more money. Waiting until we are in a bigger house. Waiting until we drive a bigger and better car. Waiting until the kids are a little bit older. Waiting until the kids grow out of their tantrums or until their "issues" are manageable. Waiting until we are healthier and skinnier. Waiting until our job situation changes or when we get a raise. Waiting until we get new furniture or appliances. Waiting until we finish school. Waiting until a lightning bolt strikes us from the heavens and says "Now is the time!" Basically we're waiting for the "perfect" time when really there is no such thing as the "perfect" time. Money will always be an issue no matter how much or little you make. A bigger house just means more expense. Better or bigger car may be necessary, and having older kids is convenient. Kids will always have "issues" and being skinnier would be awesome. Getting a raise would be nice and acquiring new furnishings for the home is ideal. Waiting to finish school would alleviate stress, I get it. I am not discounting that some of these points are valid, important, and necessary, but they are not required to commit and say yes to a child. I personally feel (let me emphasize this is my personal opinion) that many of these things are excuses to fool us into thinking that we can't do it. Children in need don't care how old you are, what you drive, what you do, how much money you make, how many kids you have, how much you weigh, where you live, how fancy or posh your home is, or what you wear. They just need a family who cares and who is willing to take a leap of faith and plant that mustard seed. Again, He will provide.

I am not amazing! I am just an ordinary gal who had the desire to do His will. My heart was pricked and it led me to action. I had many doubts and questioned whether my thoughts were my own or from a greater power. There were times when I wished the heavens would have opened or a lightening bolt struck to give me direct answers, but my desire to help started small and grew into something big. I realized that all of the thoughts that came to my mind, sermons I heard, songs that played, scriptures  or books I read, or people I came across were my personal lightening bolts and had everything to do with my decision to know that we had to take that leap. I am not amazing! I am humbled that God felt like I could do it. I am grateful that I listened even though it would have been easier to ignore. I guess what I am saying is that you don't have to be amazing to adopt, because it's not the adopter who is amazing, it is the greater power, God who is amazing. If your heart has ever, ever been stirred, stop. If you have thought for a minute that maybe you could open your heart and home to a child in need, listen. Stop and listen because God may be speaking to you and is ready to lead you. I know that adoption isn't for everyone. I know there are circumstances that surpass the material things that I have written about. I am talking to those who are able. Sometimes it's easier to ignore or pretend that we're not the "type" or could never do it. But I want you to look at these faces and try to ignore what you see. These children were worthy of a family but now it's too late because they have left this earthly home without one. Sadly the next photos I've shared below include three boys who died this past month. Cristoff and Judah did have families coming for them and Cameron who just passed away a few days ago had no family comitted. These sweet babies had endured too much and just couldn't wait any longer. My heart breaks for their families who never had a chance to whisper, "You are cherished, chosen and loved." My heart breaks for the others like Cameron who never had anyone fighting for them. Unlike foster care, no one is calling registered/licensed, home study ready families asking to take these children in. No one, not even their parents who abandoned them are visiting them at the orphanages. Their basic needs may be met but nothing can ever replace the love of a family. Days, months, years of neglect win and these children suffer and eventually die, alone. They are buried alone. No fancy casket, no service, no celebration of life, no obituary listing their accomplishments or loved ones, no elegant engraved headstone. They have no one to place flowers on their grave. They have no one to keep their memory alive! Nothing or no one! 

Cristoff
Judah
Cameron

Last year, less than 30,000 children were placed for international adoption worldwide. With 150,000,000 orphans around the world, 30,000 didn't even make a small dent. Sure it's better than nothing but we still have a lot of work to do. Christians and non Christians alike, people who have a love and concern for mankind can and should do more. Even if you can't adopt there are still ways to provide help to these children who so desperately need it. Gather needed supplies or diapers for orphanages and send them abroad. Organize a fundraiser to support a care package drive or a monetary donation. Travel abroad to take part of a mission trip, one that visits orphanages and helps meet their needs. Find out if the company you work for offers a matching donation program which can double your donation. If you own a company consider donating to an organization like Reece's Rainbow for a tax credit. Advocate, share, donate to a family in the process. Donate to a waiting child so the financial part isn't a burden for their family when they are found. I know that my work isn't done and I hope that this has helped you see that your's isn't either. If you weren't aware before, you are now. Consider this your Awareness PSA (Public Service Announcement). Please take a moment to ask yourself, "Can I do more?" Please take a moment to listen and see if God is sending you personal lightning bolts. He works in mysterious ways!

I know there are many willing hearts and lots of people who do take action in whatever capacity they can. I know there are many unsung heroes who silently make a difference. I appreciate their efforts and appreciate the efforts of advocacy that Reece's Rainbow and other organizations provide for waiting children. I admire families who have adopted domestically or internationally or both and who foster children. I know that I personally cannot change the world or have by adopting myself but I am grateful that I have changed the world for two children. And I am grateful that at least 30,000 others stepped forward to change the lives and world of 30,000 orphans no more. But, there's always a but, there are still many who are in prison (or an orphanage in this case), poor, naked, hungry, thirsty, sick, and alone. There are many "strangers" who need someone like you to take them in and who believe that it is your duty to impart of your substance. Regardless of what you impart, you will be blessed.

Imagine for just a moment the commercials for ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). You know the ones where Sarah McLachlan speaks about abused animals as one of her songs is playing in the background. She's either singing "In the arms of the angel" or "I will be the answer". (The melodramatic songs alone make you cry.) Well I ALWAYS think of these commercials when I think of the millions of children who need homes, wishing there were touching commercials made for them. So let me re-create one for you by quoting word for word what is said in these but instead of using "animal or animals" I will substitute "child or children".  I will insert my name where Sarah says hers, Reece's Rainbow for the ASPCA, and substitute orphanage for "shelter". As you're reading imagine children's faces instead of cute puppies. Keeping in mind I am talking about the 150,000,000 orphans around the world. (And please understand that I love puppies too and am not saying that puppies lives don't matter because they do. All lives matter, every single one of God's creations matter.)

Cue the music.

"Every hour, a child is beaten or abused. They suffer alone and terrified, waiting for someone to help. Hi I'm Jodi Lutkin. Please say you'll be the answer for an innocent child who is suffering right now, a child who needs your help. Please call the number on your screen or go online and join Reece's Rainbow with a monthly gift right now. For just $18 a month you'll rescue children from their abusers. Provide medical care, food, shelter, and love. Call or join online in the next 30 minutes and we'll send you the photo of a child in an orphanage and this beautiful tote bag free. This is your chance to say I won't sit by while a child suffers. Please call or go online right now."

Or

"Every day in America thousands of children suffer from cruelty and neglect. Thousands were rescued last year. But for thousands of others help came too late. Hi I'm Jodi Lutkin. Will you be an angel for a helpless child? Every day innocent children are abused, beaten, and neglected, and they're crying out for help. Please call the number on your screen with a monthly gift right now. For just $18 a month, only .60 a day you'll help rescue children from their abusers and provide medical care, food, shelter and love. Call or join online in the next 30 minutes and you'll receive this welcome kit with a photo of a child in an orphanage right now, one who has been given a second chance thanks to you. Right now there's a child who needs you. Your call says "I'm here to help."Please call right now. 

Do these commercials about children inspire you as much as the commercials about animals do? Is your heart touched? I hope so because even without the music playing in the background or a slideshow you get the gist of their message. Children are suffering alone from neglect every day. My makeshift commercial about orphans is a harsh, cruel reality. Please go online right now and scroll through the pages of the waiting children and see if there is a child who pricks your heart. Whether you commit to adopt or donate, there is a child who needs you! 



There is a child who lies in a crib waiting to be held. A child who is hungry. A child who doesn't even cry because they have learned that it doesn't make a difference, no one will come.


There is a child who longs to hold anyone's hand but especially their daddy or mommy's hand. A child who just hopes for a gentle touch or even eye contact when they are being fed.


There is a child who is wishing for freedom. Freedom from their lonely existence. Freedom from their prison.


There is a child who deserves the gift of a family, the gift of love.


There is a child who waits for the day when they are welcomed home. An earthly home where they have a sense of belonging. A place where they can experience Heaven on Earth.
More sweet babies who are in the arms of the angel in their eternal home.

 There is a child who deserves life and love and you can help. Be an angel. Be the answer. 


“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”






Thursday, June 9, 2016

Happy 10th Birthday RR!!

Birthday shout out to Reece's Rainbow!
Reece's Rainbow Celebrates 10 years today!!
In one decade, Reece's Rainbow has helped find families for 1,585 orphans no more. 
But their work is not done!
"As long as there are children with disabilities being abandoned, left in orphanages, we will be working to find families for them."


For the first 10 months of her life Sara had no one or nothing to call her own, not even this crib because before she occupied it another child did and after she abandoned it, another child moved in. At 7 days old, she entered an orphanage. All because she was born with something extra, something different. On May 7, 2012 we relied on our faith and committed to adopt this bright ray of sunshine! We knew we could make a difference and that our work wasn't done. And lucky for us we discovered that her something extra was something wonderful! On October 10, 2012 she became an orphan no more! And today she is cherished and loved and enjoys the blessing of a family!!







Olen is an orphan who also deserves the blessing of a family! Sadly his "home" for the past 3 years is still a metal crib. Maybe he is the one who filled Sara's. Please don't let his diagnosis, his difference scare you. He is worthy of love and should be sleeping in a home not an orphanage. Please see him! Please consider adoption. Maybe your work isn't done either. It won't be an easy road but it will be worth it! I promise!
Click here to read more about Olen. Share his story, pray for him, and blow kisses to him in the wind tonight. Hang tight little fella, your mama and papa will see you. You will soon know what it feels like to be "home"!! 



We found our pot of gold at the end of our Reece's Rainbow! We are blessed beyond measure for our found treasure! Thank you Reece's Rainbow. Happy Birthday and here's to another 10 years of raising awareness and finding families for more children!! 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Even When.....


Every now and then, oh geez who am I kidding? Too often I go throughout the day feeling like I've missed something. A few days ago was one of those days. Then I realized it was Liam's adoption day. Wednesday April 27th was Liam's 4 year anniversary becoming an official Lutkin. How could I forget something so special? How could I not remember a day that changed our lives forever? Well it's because each day since Liam's adoption has been filled with perpetual chaos. Chaos in a good way mostly but still chaos nonetheless. And it's not because of Liam personally, it's just life with 4 then, 5 now is busy! So as I lay next to my sleeping baby boy who just woke up from his second night terror tonight let me express how this little boy changes my heart every day. Liam has so much love to give even when it's not deserved. He loves me even though I feel inadequate to be his mom. He loves me even when my patience fails. He loves me even when I silently sob "I can't do this any more." He loves me even when I have to ignore him because it's the only other option left in my parenting bag of tricks. He loves me even when I have to hold him tight and won't let go until he's calmed down and counted to 10. He loves me even when I take his favorite toys away after he's thrown them in anger. He loves me even though I shout. He simply loves me no matter what. I sometimes feel like I'm not the mom God or myself intended me to be. Then I realize I am becoming something more and Liam is helping me. I am being stretched beyond my limits some days but it is up to me to either break or keep stretching. So I choose to keep stretching. I may not be the perfect mom but he is the perfect one for me. He is right where he needs to be and I am forever grateful it's in my heart. We have a long way to go until we figure out this parenting business. We're not even sure what the future (his future) will bring. But I do know that I will continue to love this boy because he loves me even when..... and even though......... Happy adoption day Liam!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

3 2 1 !!!

3 2 1! Rock your socks!




Tomorrow, March 21st is World Down Syndrome Day! 3/21 represents the triple copy of the 21st chromosome that occurs in Down syndrome. It is day of recognition and acceptance for those who have a little extra. We sure love everything about Sara, especially her extra sweetness! Please join us and wear mis-matched or crazy socks and when anyone asks "Why the crazy socks?" you can reply "Because I am crazy in love with someone who has Down syndrome!"

 
She's so sweet she's oozing with chocolate!! 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I Get It!

"All you need is love" has been one of my many mantras. The Beatles were even inspired by my wise words and wrote a song about it. Another one of my favorite quotes is:
Believe 
there is 
good in
the world. 

There is lots of goodness in the world, but there would be less, unecessary sadness if we all chose to "be the good" and have love in our hearts. It really is a simple philosophy yet so many don't get it. I learned to love by being loved. And today I am teaching my children how to love by loving them. Now just because I get it doesn't mean that I see rainbows and mermaids every day of my life. "Love is all you need" just makes it easier for me to understand my purpose, to love and be loved.


I often post pics of my children on social media. Many times my posts are related to adoption, in particular, special needs adoption. It is no surprise that I have an interest in and a love for adoption because my life has been blessed by it, twice. I will sometimes use the hashtag #allyouneedislove. I use it because it truly is the reason I was touched to "be the good". My heart was pricked by love and a desire to help others through foster care and adoption. On one occasion after I had posted an adoption related post tagging #allyouneedislove, an acquaintance within my "adoption world" posted an entirely different post about how love isn't all you need. I honestly don't even remember who it was but I feel certain that she wrote her own post to contradict my own. I don't even remember what she said exactly but I remember thinking, "I hope I don't come across that my life is perfect and that adoption is hunky dory." Adoption is hard and there are times when love just doesn't seem enough but I promise you it is! Love is all you need to SURVIVE!

This particular person had just adopted an older child. And maybe that is another reason she was making a point, because I have no experience in older children adoption. But I get it even though my children were infants. A lot of abandoned children wear so many layers that it is hard to peel back every layer with love, I get it. Some kids are simply wired differently and it is impossible to rewire or reconnect the faulty connections, I get it! It is hard to like them when they are defiant or mean, I get it. It is hard to like them when all they seem to do is hurt those who are trying to love them, I get it. It's hard to like them when their stubbornness drives you to drink, I get it and I don't even drink! It is hard to look in their eyes and see their potential, because at times their eyes seem dull, empty and dark, I get it. These kids have lived a life of rejection and abandonment from those who were supposed to love them the very most so it is no wonder why it is hard to for them to love and be loved. Loving them can be hard work and sometimes you do need a lot more than love, you need patience, kindness, sanity, self control and anger management, lots of tear fests, and a night out with the girls. A long winters nap would be nice too!! I get it!

I get it because even though my children were infants when we adopted them, I surprisingly do have some of the same issues. There are times when I don't like my children. I love them fiercely, but they wind me up so much sometimes it's hard to want to be nice. There have been times when I have felt like someone else would be better suited to be a mother to my children. I have uttered the words, "I can't do this anymore". I have even questioned if we made the right decision. I never thought I would have these heartbreaking doubts but they're real. This is why adoption is love! It has stretched my ability to love even greater than I thought was possible and to love unconditionally. So the point I try to make when I use #allyouneedislove is that love is the key to get to the point of even wanting to help these children. You have to have love in your heart for your heart to even be stirred. Love is all you need to trust and take that leap of faith to change the course of your life but more importantly to change the course of a child's life. These kids need us! They need someone to reignite the light in their eyes so their soul can shine bright as it was designed to do! They have potential, they have a purpose and our purpose as parents, no matter where our children come from or how they are wired is to not give up on them! They need us as much as we need them! So love really is all you need to make this happen! It doesn't mean it's going to be easy. It doesn't mean that it is going to take away their behavior or their quirks. Love isn't going to change their diagnosis, but love is all you need to keep fighting! So although it will be tough at times, we have been promised that it will be worth it! "All you need is love" makes the blobfish and cloudy days bearable. Because at the end of the day if our children feel loved despite the hard stuff, they will love! Even if it takes an eternity! Thank goodness families are forever, because forever is a long time and hopefully it's enough time for all of us to get it!



If the thought of adoption has ever crossed your mind, or if you have ever felt inclined to help by fostering children, don't be fooled into thinking that you can't do it! Adoption may be part of your purpose. You don't have it have it all together to take the leap. You don't have to have a bigger house or more money. You don't have to wait until life quiets down. If we all waited for the "perfect" time to jump, then we'd all still be waiting at the edge of the cliff. We'd never experience the thrills that were designed for us. Children in need don't care what you drive, where you live, what you wear, or what you do, they just need a family who cares and who is willing to take a leap of faith. They need someone who get's the simple philosophy of "Love is all you need." Because it truly is all they need to realize their purpose and His plan. I am glad that through the rainbows and clouds, I get it and that adoption has been part of my purpose and plan!



Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spread The Word......

......To End The Word!!

"Mentally retarded". "Mental retardation". Terms once used by medical professionals to describe those who had intellectual disabilities.  Today, these terms are being used to degrade and make fun of those who have significant intellectual impairment. Additionally the r-word has become a common word used by society as an insult for someone or something stupid. For example, you might hear someone say, "That is so retarded" or "Don't be such a retard." When used in this way, the r-word can apply to anyone or anything, and is not specific to someone with a disability. But, even when the r-word is not said to harm someone with a disability, it is hurtful. Please take the pledge today to end the word by clicking the red link below! Pledge to show respect to everyone!


In addition to taking this pledge, let's use people first language as well. What is people first language you might ask? Here is a reminder to help you understand.
    "Remember: a disability descriptor is simply a medical diagnosis; People First Language respectfully puts the person before the disability; and a person with a disability is more like people without disabilities than different!"
For example it's not polite to say "the Down syndrome girl" or she is "the downs kid" or "she's downs", or "my Down syndrome kid". She is Sara (people first) who has Down syndrome. Her name is Sara not Down syndrome. Sara has Down syndrome but it is not the Down syndrome that defines who she is. She is Sara! Likewise you shouldn't say "the autistic kid", he is a boy who has autism. You wouldn't call somebody Autistic Sam or Down syndrome Sara. You would call them Sam or Sara. Hope this clarifies what people first language means. It's just another way to show respect to everyone!

Today is also Dr. Seuss' birthday! So in honor of him as well as educating others about spreading the word to end the word, I would like to share this pic and quote.


Caring is another word for respect! Respect causes change and change begins with you!