Saturday, February 26, 2011

The boy from baby house 14

Just to be crystal clear...

I'm giving away my nearly-new, hard-cover copy of The Boy from Baby House 10 to help this little boy from baby house 14*:

*FYI - Baby house 14 is a random, made up number used by Reece's Rainbow

Check out those baby blues! And that sweet little pouty mouth! I'm in love. *sigh*

See? He can smile and laugh!! This little boy is going to be a HUGE blessing to his family. Could that be your family?

Someone you know?

Someone you don't know, but knows someone that you know?

Do you see where I'm going with that? Thanks for sharing this!

Gifts of ANY size to Andrey's grant fund are appreciated. Your name goes in the virtual hat for each $5 gifted.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Are you old enough to remember the not so kind and gentle days when the P.E. teacher would choose two team captains, two handsome and physically gifted young people no doubt, and those two team captains would build their teams by alternately choosing classmates to play on their team?

Well, I am. And I do.

Because I was always picked last. Or second to last.

Maybe that's why I'm compelled to root for the underdog.

Andrey is a classic example of an underdog. He is at a huge disadvantage in his country in Eastern Europe. He is considered inferior. He's weak and expected to be a loser.

Andrey has seen parents come, choose other children and leave. He's still waiting to be picked. He's an underdog and he's going down.

Andrey is already four years old. But, he can't sit up for long by himself anymore. He cannot stand anymore, even with help. He used to be able to do these things. He is regressing. His caregivers don't have time to work with him. They think he is a worthless imbecile.

This from Andrea, who spent several months volunteering at Andrey's orphanage:

"...Andrey is quite neglected at the orphanage. Because he doesn't really sit by himself, he spends pretty much all of his time alone in a big crib-like playpen. The workers compare him to the other children with DS and often say things like, "[Johnny] has down syndrome but he is smart, not like Andrey..." I have been
told that I was wasting my time with him and one day when Andrey & I were in the visiting room with [Johnny] & his parents the head secretary came by and told [Johnny's] parents that they had made the right choice..."
Andrey's caregivers are wrong. He is priceless. As the least of the very least, he is royalty in God's kingdom. The Underdog Prince Andrey! How we treat him and think of him is how we treat and think of our Lord.

Again, from Andrea:
"He is such a sweetheart, so cuddly and generally a content little guy...even just spending a couple hours a week with him, I saw a big change in him during the few months I had with him. He learned to pull himself up while holding my hands and started pulling himself up on the side of the crib whenever he saw me coming. He also became much more playful and interactive with me. He has a real sense of humour and would love to drop toys on the ground and make me pick them up again. He also thought it was very funny to take his booties off. He would wait 'till I turned my head, pull one off and then when I caught him he would laugh and laugh."
So why is this beautiful child sitting in an orphanage? I can't pretend to grasp the magnitude of pain and suffering in this world. It weighs me down at times. It crushes me at other times. However big the problem is, there is just no way that I can do nothing. How could I live with myself?

As bad as things are for Andrey, things may get worse when he is transferred to a mental asylum. By law, that is where he will go to live at a certain age, sometimes 4 or 5 years. This tiny boy who is losing his ability to even sit up will most certainly be assigned permanently to a crib. A tiny little jail cell for a tiny little inmate. Game over for my little underdog.

If he loses his ability to feed himself or hold a bottle he may be in real danger. Some children are tube fed at the baby houses, but I don't know about the institution. I feel that this precious boy is losing his will to live. He needs a yesterday!

I've tried, and miserably failed, to adequately convey the hopelessness and boredom the children with Down Syndrome and other disabilities suffer in the baby houses and asylums in Eastern Europe. Some things are not easy to put into words. Not simply because they are awful, but because I don't have the frame of reference to fully understand the things I witnessed.

The hopelessness is crushing and the boredom is not leisurely, it's brutal. I was reminded of this after finally reading The Boy from Baby House 10 this week. The book is an amazing true story. The first four chapters left me with my mouth hanging wide open. I could have sworn that the authors had been with me visiting Theo in the room for the "incurables."

Please, won't you help me help Andrey? Before he regresses any further? Before he is transferred to an institution? He absolutely must have a family if he is to survive and reach his potential.

The only thing standing in the way of Andrey finding a family is money. Of course. Children with large adoption grant funds get families sooner. It's just a fact.

In honor of the Underdog Prince Andrey, I'm going to give away my copy of The Boy from Baby House 10. I'll draw names from the chip-in on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st. Names go in the hat once for every $5 gifted. Please consider a tax deductible gift of any size to Andrey's grant fund through the chip-in posted here:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sorry anon...

Sorry anonymous...I can't do that right now. That should give you a clue. Leave me your email ( I won't publish it ) and I'd be glad to talk to you further.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


I don't talk much about Zhen. Why? Truthfully, his physical transformation isn't nearly as dramatic as Theo. I love this kid like crazy.

And I'm not the only one.

Zhen is all boy. He likes to play rough. He likes to swing high. And as soon as everyone is having a great time and laughing and smiling...

...he will bonk heads with you, or bite. Arrgh. Teaching him how to play and how to give appropriate affection is an ongoing process.
But check out this innocent face! How angelic!

And check out that hair! Fluffy!

I tried to give him a haircut at Christmas. I got out the clippers and Zhen immediately got nervous. When I plugged them in, he started looking for escape routes! But seriously...

Zhen is either so bothered by the sensation and sound of the clippers that he cannot keep from panicking OR he was so traumatized by his regular head shavings in the orphanage that he cannot keep from panicking.

He panicked.

It made me want to cry.

I've seen a lot of things but I've never seen a child so frightened. All I could think of at the time was three or four ladies holding him down to shave his head. Maybe the clippers were dull and pulled hair. Maybe they cut his ears. I don't know.

I put the clippers away that night without trimming a single hair. I tried scissors, but Zhen was done. We both were.

A few weeks later I sat him in his high chair to watch me trim his big brother Richard's hair. Zhen howled and fussed. Then I put the clippers away.
The next day I decided that I was going to take the bull by the horns and trim his hair. ha! He sat on the bathroom floor and tried to hide his head between my ankles. That was OK. I let him hide while I did the back of his head. Then I turned him around and did the front.

I was quick. I didn't do a great job. But it got done. And we both lived.

Zhen came to us as a frightened little lamb. He is slowly gaining confidence. He's facing his fears, with a lot of help from others. I think that the internal transformations can be just as dramatic as the external ones, if you take the time to look.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The last dose.

Tonight is a very special night. It doesn't feel special. It's not like I picked up the house or anything. Perhaps I should have!

Three times a day, every eight hours, every day, for the last (almost) four years I've given Ralph his pulmonary hypertension medication. For the first three years that included some other medications as well. Those were discontinued about a year ago.

With Ralph's school schedule I've been staying up until midnight each night to give his last dose of the day. That's late. To do that every night is tough.

Well, tonight is the last dose.

After tonight Ralph will be on ZERO medications. That's so huge.

There were days when I wondered if he would ever be healthy. It's hard to remember, but during some of those dark days I wondered how long he would survive. I never would have believed how strong and healthy he would become.

Ralph is a rock star!
Here is Ralph two years ago, still on oxygen. Here's my blog post that day. haha!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The diapers keep me sane.

Actual life has been happening at our house even though it has been very quiet here for a bit. There has been drama and heartbreak but we plow through it. What else is there to do? I sometimes feel like my heart will implode but then...there are diapers to change. ha!

My son Richard had knee surgery last week. Poor boy has had nothing but trouble with his legs since he started running. If only his legs could match the literal and figurative strength and endurance of his heart. It was pretty fun, though, chatting with him as he came out of the anesthesia. I got to hear all about what a great girl Heather is. Over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I love Heather, but he was so dopey and dreamy that I had a good giggle!

Parent teacher conferences were fun. All my children are gifted geniuses, don't you know? I'm a recovering homeschooler, so having them in public schools is sometimes difficult for me to handle. I'm thankful that we have a great district and the teachers are all on the same page as me. They are doing a better job than I could do at this point in time. Someday, maybe...

My computer is broken. I kill them (computers) you know. Thankfully, it is under warranty so the repair will be covered, but I'm preparing to speak at the local Down Syndrome Society on Saturday and now I have no way to do my presentation. I'll scheme and scrape something together. It's not like I haven't known about this meeting for the past four months. I just work my best under intense pressure, I guess.

I'll let you know how it turns out. :)


She still doesn't have a family. How can this be happening? I'm not the only one who is desperate for her. The speech therapist at the orphanage has twice dropped her off to play with two different American families this week. She wants them to help find her a family quickly.

This just NEVER happens. The staff would actually prefer if you don't even LOOK at another child. But, even last summer the therapist would often "show up" with Masha when I was playing outside with my boys. Now I'm beginning to understand...

She loves her, too.

And she knows where Masha is headed. Not a good place.


Well, since my regular computer is being shipped to the repair shop for the next week or so, I'm working on "old reliable." My 1999 model desktop. She still runs pretty good considering her advanced age.

Just for reading this far, I thought I would reward you with a random photo off of "old reliable." Since she doesn't show me thumbnails and I didn't rename my photos back then, it really is random. Here is what I picked today...a classic "tub shot" of Hammy and Fred!

Look at those baby faces!! Those are two of the sweetest boys on the earth. Hammy always reminds me to pray for Masha. When I told him that she would be moved to a new orphanage and not be able to go to school like him, the first thing he asked me was, "Can she still be adopted from that place?"

At the age of 5 (going on 6!), Hammy "gets it."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Updating on stuff.

The past week has been so insane that I have neglected to update properly.

Of course, you know about Masha...she's been on my mind all time. This girl is really something special. I did not advocate for her during the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree season because the focus was on children with Down Syndrome. I felt terrible about that knowing that she would turn four years old in January.

In fact her birthday is the same as my Zhen. Never did I expect this to happen quite so soon, but she is being prepared for her transfer to a mental institution. Imagine plucking a child out of your family and dropping them off at a hospital to live. She will be removed from the only home she has ever known. As dysfunctional and cold as orphanage life is, for all practical purposes, that is her family...her brothers and sisters and mommies.

She is the size of a one year old baby. An easy mark. Who will make sure no one hurts her? Who will make sure no one steals her food? Who will encourage her to walk and talk and learn new things? Will she be afraid? Will she be cold? Will she lose her sparkle?

Knowing that transfer day was possible I started a chip-in fundraiser for her at the beginning of the month. I was supposed to draw winners on my birthday...but...I ended up out of town. I had an opportunity to attend a Down Syndrome conference in Kansas City. I got home late on Saturday and Sunday morning my husband was ushering at church so I had to get nine kids ready to go.

Monday morning was eye appointments for Zhen and Theo at 8am. 8AM!! The news for Zhen was not good. He needs surgery and even then may not regain sight in his bad eye. Tuesday I found out about Masha's imminent transfer and scheduled my 18 year old son for knee surgery the next day. Oh yeah, and we had a blizzard. Wednesday was his surgery plus four parent/teacher conferences.

Today was...NOTHING!!! YAY!!

So now I have time to update properly. I decided over the weekend to extend Masha's chip-in fundraiser because I was just so busy and there weren't that many contributors anyway. Now I'm glad that I did. BUT...since a generous benefactor has donated $17,000 to her grant fund, I'll be ending the chip-in and drawing names on Saturday.

God willing, she will have a committed family very soon. Will you continue to share her story so that her family will find her?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wow! Look what has happened!

What a day!

I woke to find that Masha had received a $17,000 grant! How very exciting, right? She needs someone to step forward right away. Still praying like CRAZY!

After making breakfast and answering a few emails, I took my 18 year old son to the surgery center to have his knee fixed. Four hours later we headed for home. He was still pretty dopey when we left. He kept telling me how great his girlfriend is and that he really likes her! I've had to repeat his care instructions several times. Too funny!

When I got home it was time to rush out the door for parent/teacher conferences. Four of them. I have great children who are doing awesome in school, by the way.

Home. Dinner. Jammies. Babies to bed. Bath. Ahhhhhh! Time to sit down and update the blog. Oh no!

My computer is nearly dead. It's not charging and I'll have to take it in for fixing. Now I'm self medicating with cheesecake and writing on an iPod so pardon my typos and word choices. This is far from ideal. Haha!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time. Time for me to beg. One last time.

I wish I had time to write and ponder and edit and muse over what I'm about to say. I'll probably miss a few things and I won't be very eloquent. I don't have time. Time is a luxury.

Time is nearly up.

For Masha.

I got a call from the school district at about 5:30 am today to tell me that school would be cancelled. Do they really think I needed to be woken up on a day that I don't have to GET up so early? Anyway, I took the opportunity to check my email and this is what I found:

"We saw Masha today and were playing peek a boo with her and laughing with her etc. Oh my gosh the doctors from the institution were there to give her a physical for her transfer to the institution."

Days. Days people! She has a few days left at her baby home, the only home she has known. In the dead of winter she will be loaded in a van with the other dear children that are out of precious time and taken away to an even more loveless and hopeless environment.

I think it would be possible to delay this. There are people who might possibly have the influence to delay this. Oh, it's such a long shot that I hate to even write it down!! But, I have to. She's special to me. Ya know? My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. She needs a family in the next day or so.

If there is one thing I've learned over the years, and trust me I've learned A LOT, it is that things are not always what they seem. Why? Because we are walking by sight and not faith. Masha is not only what you see in her description. She is a living breathing doll. EVERYONE who has seen her and played with her has fallen in love with her. She has something special and not ONE SINGLE fiber of my being believes that she is destined to live out her life in a mental institution.

OK, I'm using a lot of caps, huh? I just don't know how to convey how awesome she is and how devastated I am. Please, I'm begging you to help me help last time. Can you email, tweet, blog, and FB her face and her story? I know she has a family out there.

And don't give me the "you can't save them all" and don't EVEN give me the "maybe it's God's will" crap today.

I will never stop trying to save them all.

And God's desire for orphans is abundantly clear in his Word:

Proverbs 24:11 - Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I could go on and on...but time's up.