Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mission Possible

Many posts ago I had mentioned that we witnessed many miracles and saw the hand of the Lord on several occasions during our time spent in Ukraine. There were stories to be told that were worthy of their own post but let me share a couple with you in one. It's no surprise that this is a lengthy one, but would you expect anything less? 

There was a time when I knew every face, name, region, etc. on Reece's Rainbow. I was obsessed and wanted to do more than just look at these sweet faces. Through the Lord and His perfect timing we found Sara and I was able to do more than just look. I was able to adopt a child who was left at the hospital after her birth and at the age of 7 days old, was taken to an orphanage. A child who smiles, laughs, coos, cries, poops, pees, eats, drinks, plays, and sleeps like any "normal" child. A child who in fact has a brother who asks, "She has  Down syndrome?" because she acts so "normal". A child who interacts, holds up her arms to be held, crawls to the bottom of my feet and looks up at me just waiting for me to pick her up. A child who responds to her name and smiles when you enter a room. A child who pushes away her pesky older brother when he is bothering her. Or waves bye bye when it's time to say goodnight. A child who can transfer toys from one hand to another or who can hold her own bottle. A child who kicks her feet with excitement at the site of food and can feed herself while sitting in her high chair. A child who can crawl and sit up and who can make it over a step while trying to get out the front door. A child who can pull her self up to stand in her crib and looks so pleased with herself that she has done it! A child who babbles mama and dada. This is a child who's country thinks that children like her should be put away, hidden from the world. Or encourages parents to leave children like her in the hospital because they are better off in an institution. I am happy to say that she is far from being hidden away, she has a great future ahead of her. She is able to shine and show the world who she is meant to be! This is a child who is loved, cherished and chosen! This child is my daughter, Sara! My pot of gold at the end of my Reece's Rainbow! 

Since we have been home and ever since our journey came to an end, I haven't been as obsessed with looking at the Reece's Rainbow website as I had been. I look every now and then, but my focus has changed. (Don't know how having 5 kids could change my focus.) I still have my moments of "Awww! We can help one more." And I even get drawn to particular kids and imagine us doing it one more time. But then the reality kicks in and I realize that 5 really is enough. I have 2 babies only 13 mos. apart, life is busy, and truthfully I do feel content. I just think the pull to want to help rather than just look will always be there. I think that I will always feel that maybe there's one more. I think that I will always look into the eyes of each child and know they are worthy of a family and wish we could be that family. But that is why I will always do my best to help other children find homes.

My first mission starts with finding homes for 4 little boys who also resided at Sara's orphanage. During our first visit to the orphanage, we met with the director. After he had read Sara's file he proceeded to tell us about 3 other boys who were there, who also had "syndrome Down" as he called it. He threw his hands up in the air and said, "3 boys, no body wants them, not even one inquiry." From that moment I was curious who they were and knew I needed to help. I was curious to know which other little faces listed on Reece's Rainbow were there? After that meeting I asked our facilitator to find out which boys he was talking about. I also asked if it would be possible to meet them and take new photos, because I knew that I could help by getting new pics. She said she would find out for me and eventually after me being very persistent, I was able to know who these boys were. We were told that our request to meet them would be impossible unless we were able to see them outside during our visits but for me that just made this mission more challenging, mission impossible. Each day as we strolled around the orphanage grounds, I looked, but we never saw any little boys with Down syndrome. I knew who I was looking for but never caught even a glimpse.

 That changed though the day that we were able to take Sara out to get her passport. We had been gone for a few hours and I knew Sara was getting hungry. Once we got back I asked our facilitator to ask the director if we could feed her since we had never been given the chance before. I was very curious what and how she ate and was also hoping to get a peek at the other rooms we were never able to see. I wanted to see where she played and possibly where she slept. Surprisingly he said yes and led us into room #4. It felt strange to go further than the hallway and we were happy to see where she had spent most of her days. We were pleasantly surprised with the conditions which were clean, clinical, bright and even more surprised that they did allow us to see where she slept and even where they bathed and dressed the babies. (They even allowed me to take pictures.) We weren't allowed to feed her but were allowed to watch the nanny feed her. In the meantime as she was being fed, Mark and I quietly walked around the nursery. We peeked at the other little babies as they laid in the play pens/cribs. Each one looked at us with curiosity. Some smiled, some were sad. Then all of the sudden my eyes met another little boy who I had recognized. I even called him by name. I quickly summoned Mark over and told him to quickly grab the camera and start filming . "This is baby D. This is baby D from Reece's Rainbow." Lucky for this little guy, Mark was able to record a brief video of him and take a few pics. He was adorable and I have to say that his Reece's Rainbow pic did not do him justice. He was much cuter and soooo sweet! I immediately looked at Mark and said, "Are you sure you don't want twins?" I was ecstatic that I finally got to meet one of the boys. I was so excited to get back to the apartment so I could send RR these new pics. Again, I just knew that if I could get new pics, I could help these boys find families. Sometimes that's all it takes is for someone to see updated ones and to know that someone has met this child. I said earlier that baby D was lucky that were able to take new pics and video because after RR did receive them, they knew immediately who to show them too. It was a family who otherwise would have never considered baby D but after they had seen these new pics and videos, they were interested. I told them to give this family my info. and email and I was happy to answer any questions they had for me. That same day I did get an email from them and I quickly responded. Their next response was that they were going to pray about this little boy to know if he was the one. The next morning I awoke to find an email stating that they were indeed going to commit to this little boy. So I am happy to report that baby D has a family coming for him and soon (hopefully this month or April) he will be home. What a lucky little boy! 1 down, 3 more to go!

After the passport application day, we only had a couple more days before we would bust Sara out, leaving no time to see the other boys. On Sunday, the day before her real gotcha day, Mark and I had plans to visit the orphanage in the morning but we slept in so we had to wait until the afternoon to visit. As we were walking up to the orphanage, we walked passed a group of kids who we'd see often during our visits. It was a group of kids who we actually played with on occasion. The kids would grab our hands and we would take them on little walks or push them on their bikes. The little girl of the group would crawl all over Mark and hit him. They were all just thriving for attention but we didn't mind giving it to them. As we walked passed, recognizing their familiar faces and even surprised to see Sara's hospital room mate, the one who was so excited to see us everyday because we would bring him treats and let him watch Mark's phone, the little boy who was so sick, we also noticed a couple of boys sitting in a stroller. It was hard to see their faces but I couldn't help but wonder if it might be them. We had never seen them before with that group so it was a possibility that it was them. As we waited in the foyer for them to bring Sara out, I told Mark that I was going to do some investigation work. I was going to walk over to that group while Mark waited and then he could meet me outside with the stroller. Once I got outside I felt very awkward though and just decided to wait for Mark and Sara. I knew that it would be easier to take a stroll in that direction with the stroller. So once Mark came out, we headed towards the children. Mark sat on an bench with Sara and I crept upon the stroller with the 2 little boys and took a peek! BINGO! It was the other 2 boys who we had longed to see. "O" and "D".

 I was bursting at the seams with excitement. I hurried and grabbed the camera. I went up to the boys who could hardly see me because of their hats blocking their view and tried to communicate with them and their nanny. I was trying to help her make the connection that I was interested in them because they have Ds like our daughter. She didn't seem to mind and it didn't stop me from taking pictures so I snapped away. I told Mark, this may be a visit where I give my undivided attention to them and not Sara but it would be a small sacrifice I was willing to take. Both little boys were crammed in a one seat stroller. It was evident that they were not pleased with the seating arrangement. At times the one in back would hit the other one with a closed first on side of his head. They just wanted out but there was no indication that this was going to happen. They were meant to stay put, watching as the other children frolicked and played. For a moment I put the camera down, at this point I was glowing. OK, I was a sweaty beast. I was so caught up in the moment and had felt like I had just run a 2 minute mile. Anyway I walked over to the stroller and motioned to the nanny that I was going to pick up the one who was sitting in front. As I lifted him from the stroller he had a very fearful look and just started crying. I sat him back down and showed the nanny through charades that I was going to take the boys for a walk. I took them for a walk, taking pictures along the way. They were both very unsure but the constant motion of the stroller kept them calm. After a while I brought them back to the area where Mark and the kids were playing. I parked the stroller next to the bench where Mark was sitting and once again lifted up the boy in front. This time he did not cry and he allowed me to hold him. As I held him in my arms, I could feel him becoming more relaxed. He was very intrigued with my necklace and kept touching my face. I kept kissing his cheeks, even though they were covered in snot. I whispered in his ear that he was beautiful and that I would help him find a family. I know that once he had felt the warmth of a mama, he wanted more. His eyes that were once filled with fear were full of light. His eyes spoke as if to say, "I still have a lot to give and a life to live."

 As I was having this interaction with "D" Mark was interacting with "O". Mark eventually found his tickle spots and he was laughing uncontrollably. It was so neat to witness and hear his belly laughs and I was so excited to see that his light was still shining. He had a very cheeky disposition and his smile just melted my heart. We were able to record him giggling and once again I was very excited to return to our apartment so I could forward these pics and videos to RR. It was very hard to leave these boys but the time came when I had to put "D" back in the stroller. The nanny walked over as I was snapping the last photos and she even took off "O's" hat so I could see him better. Again, she never seemed to mind that we were there taking pics. I actually think she was grateful for the help since she had 10 kids to look after. Once the boys were crammed back into the stroller and all of the children were gathered to go inside, we said goodbye. I was grateful for the chance to meet these boys and the Lord's hand never ceases to amaze me. We had one last chance to see these boys and had we not slept in that morning we would have never seen them. I know that through the simple act of taking pictures I could be an instrument in His hands.

 Earlier in this post I mentioned that there were 4 boys I was committed to help yet the director had only mentioned 3. Well come to find out. "D" was not "D" after all. The little boy who we had met was Vytas. I knew he looked a little different than "D's" photo but I was convinced it was him because I had never heard of Vytas before. So currently I am working on finding out if "D" truly is at that orphanage, because no one has ever seen him. Supposedly he is there and I am hoping to get an update soon. And I am happy to report that "O" has a family. Even before I could get his new pics to RR, he had a family who was interested then later committed to him. He is home now, thriving and doing well. That's 2 down, 2 to go! So for now until I find out about "D", I will be screaming from the rooftops, "Vytas deserves a family!! He needs a mama and papa to love him and cuddle him every day! He has so much light to give and just needs the chance to shine!" I held him, hugged and kissed him, so I felt his radiant spirit!

 As you may know, I was Vytas' angel tree warrior during the holiday season. We had a goal to raise $1000 and with your help we were able to meet this goal. Thank you! Currently he has $3308.87 in his account with Reece's Rainbow. With your help and with the help of others, we can spread the word, share his pic, donate to his fund. He will be turning 5 this year and hopefully he will still be kept at the baby house. I am not sure how much longer he can stay before he is transferred but I pray it doesn't happen before his family finds him. If you feel you have room in your heart to adopt Vytas please take that leap of faith and do it! Or if you feel compelled to share his pic, then do it! He is literally on borrowed time. Let's help him before his clock strikes midnight! In the upcoming months I will be conducting fundraisers, sharing FB and blog posts to raise awareness for Vytas. I know his family is out there! Adoption is not for every one but everyone can help with the adoption process! Vytas should be attending kindergarten this fall and not sitting in a crammed stroller with sores on his hands and a bruised nose, watching as the other children wander and roam. He deserves life and love!!

 I just received an email from Reece's Rainbow this week. Here it is for you to read.

This weekend, we at Reece's Rainbow have made a very painful decision to putting waiting Russian children on hold. The situation in Russia continues to drag out, and it is not looking good for Russia re-opening to foreign adoptions any time in the near future. We just can't continue to accept grant donations and inquiries for these waiting children. The children who have grant funds raised will have their donation links removed, but remain on the site with a note in their profile. We are NOT reallocating existing grant funds at this time. No children are being deleted, only removed from the Waiting Children categories. Existing grant funds are clearly marked on the profiles for children who have grants. PLEASE CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR THESE CHILDREN AND ALL OF OUR FAMILIES WHO ARE STUCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS. I can't even put into words how horrible it is to have worked so hard to FIND all of these children, and then to have to pretend they don't even exist. We ask your prayers for strength, courage, and wisdom. Praise Him for the opportunity to save as many as we have. Praise Him for the chance for better care and true social change to finally begin in Russia. Ask Him for courage to bear these coming months, filled with heartache and a sense of loss, but with the hope of CHANGE. Reece's Rainbow will be here when and if these children need us again.
Andrea Roberts

Reece's Rainbow has found families for over 900 children. It really breaks my heart to know that many of the faces I'd gaze at on a daily basis are no longer visible, hundreds more who could have had a family! I feel for the families who found their lost prince and princess but can't rescue them. Praying for a change but until that change comes, I will continue to fight for Vytas, a little boy who is available and waiting. He is in a country who is still allowing adoptions to happen. He is a child who still has a chance. My hope is that every child who is currently listed on the Reece's Rainbow website will be found. Wouldn't it be great to see all of their faces gone because they have a family coming for them?And then in due time, when Russia reopens our focus can be once again on those children. Every child deserves the blessings of a family! Vytas is no different! He is a child who also smiles, laughs, coos, cries, poops, pees, eats, drinks, plays, and sleeps like any "normal" child. So my mission impossible continues because I can do more than just look at their sweet faces!

What a lovely little boy!

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