Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Remembering


A year ago this week we were in Aaron's country.  We were on our second trip.  Our first trip, in July 2010, had ended in disaster-- we were sent home without a court date and without any assurance that a judge would hear our case. We returned one month later, much wiser and much more frightened about what might happen.  The reality of adopting a child from a closed mental facility weighed heavily on our minds.  We had a judge, but knew that she didn't support our adoption. Nor did the prosecutor.  We walked into that courtroom on August 26, 2010 hoping against hope that she would agree to let us take Aaron home.  Our blog title at the end of that day was:  The Only Way It Could Have Been Worse....

After a tense round of questioning, she left the room. When she returned, she told us that our next court hearing would be in two weeks. Then she handed down a list of demands that shocked and dismayed everyone in the room:

  • She demanded that someone from the SDA attend the next court proceeding.  This was unheard of-- the SDA did not have extra staff to send to adoption proceedings all over the country. Our facilitators ended up hiring a local social worker to stand in for the SDA.  Our facilitators did NOT charge us extra for this, nor for the extra time and energy it took to find her and prepare her for court.
  • She demanded that Aaron attend court.  This was against all of the rules for special needs adoptions.  Although Aaron had just turned 6, he was NOT in a normal internat, but in a mental institution. By law, he was not required to sit in court. By bringing him to court, the judge was implying that he was mentally competent to answer questions-- yet he had been relegated to a mental institute because he was supposedly mentally incompetent. Again, this demand put our facilitators in a difficult position.  None of us wanted to put Aaron through the trauma of a court appearance; but the fear of angering the judge forced us to go along with her. So our six year old son was dragged into court to be questioned by the judge.   In the end, Aaron couldn't have cared less about the court proceedings, and his only answer to the judge's questions was stone-faced silence. But he did thoroughly enjoy the car ride.
  • She demanded signed, certified papers that Aaron had no siblings available for adoption. There was no paperwork available to meet her demand, and getting that paperwork finished in 2 weeks was nearly impossible. The judge did agree to apply for the paperwork from her office.  Unfortunately, by the next court date, the paperwork had NOT arrived, and that glitch alone almost derailed our proceedings. 
  • She demanded that in the two weeks before our next court appearance, Rob and I were to learn Aaron's language.  Our facilitator was absolutely astounded at this request and honestly didn't believe that it was real. We did not take it as lightly: we were pretty sure she was serious.  When she tested us in court two weeks later, everyone else realized how serious she had been. We failed her language test, even though Rob spent numerous hours during that two-week period studying as best he could.  Her disgust at our complete inability to learn Aaron's language was evident in her words and facial expressions. 
I don't have fond memories from that court hearing.  It was a nauseating session, and that nausea lasted throughout most of the next two weeks-- two of the longest weeks of our lives. 

Remembering all of this doesn't give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.  The agony of those weeks is still fresh enough on my mind that to ponder too deeply is to experience the trauma anew.  Still, remembering is good: not to rehash our bitter feelings, but to remind us of God's faithfulness.  When we first saw Aaron's picture in December 2009, when the Holy Spirit first breathed "son" into our hearts, we had no idea what the path before us looked like. We took a leap of faith, and then prayed for God to stick with us. God heard every single one of our prayers.

To look back is to marvel at His Grace. To review those memories is to rejoice at His Faithfulness.  To reminisce is to stand in awe at His Presence throughout the entire process. 

We don't remember in bitterness.  We remember to rejoice.  We serve and love a God who served and loved us first.  In this week, in these days, as I think back to the terror of a year ago, as I ponder how lonely and scared we were in that village, as I remember the horror we felt as we drove away from that courtroom, I am bathed in the wonderful reality and the beautiful testimony that my God hears and answers prayer. He listens.  He responds.  He does not leave us alone and lonely.  Whether we are in a courtroom pleading for the life of a child, or in a prayer closet, pleading for a marriage or a sick loved one or a wayward son-- the reality of a Living and Loving God is woven throughout the entire tale.  It is for that reason that I sit back and remember.  To sing His praises.  To give Him glory.  To be reminded of His faithfulness.  To experience anew the wonder of His love.

Aaron's adoption story is a story, not of tragedy, but of Grace.  It is a story of Love.  God's love for one little lost boy.  It is a story designed so that in the end, all of the Glory goes to God. As His children, we had the honor of being part of God's story.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Stealing Joy

I am a stay at home Mom.  I am with my children 24/7.  I am at their beck and call whenever they need me.  I not only take them to their activities, I volunteer at most of them.  I wash their clothes, feed them, care for them.  I take care of their medical needs.  I homeschool them.  I clean up after them.  On paper I look good.  I look like I am doing everything right.  I could easily pat myself on the back. 

I can't.  I know the truth.

I am not only a stay at home Mom but I also work from home.  I sit at the computer from before sun up to past sun down.  I have deadlines that have to be met.  I have responsibilities that I can't shirk.  I not only work from home but I am a teacher at a Co-op.  I have curriculum to write.  Papers to grade.  Other children who need me.  I have a to-do list that is long and wearisome.  I have a passion for special needs kids across the ocean that can't be quenched just because my inbox is overflowing.

But I do have a husband who carries much of my load.   I do have boys who help clean and cook and do laundry.  I do have a dad next door who is forever doing this or that to help us out and who willingly and lovingly spends hours with Aaron every week.  I have been given much.  But too often, in my selfishness, I overlook what I have been given and focus only on my agenda.

And I have hurt my kids because of it.  I DO for them all the time but it is often not the DOING that they want.  They want ME.  They want me to stop, listen, BE WITH THEM. 

On Saturday night I was focused solely and completely on getting a deadline met.  Rob was spending quality time with Ben and Elijah.  I had Aaron.  But I wanted to get my deadline met.  I didn't want to sit in his room and build puzzles.  My computer was more important than building blocks.  My job was more interesting than playing hide and go seek.  So I cheated.  I gave him challenges.  The build this puzzle and call me when you are done kind of cheating.  He was happy to oblige.  I ran up and down the steps.  Dividing my time between work and child.  Each time he accomplished a task, I ran up the steps, praised him, gave him another.  I was buying time until golden hour.  Bedtime.  When it came I ran upstairs.  Aaron was hiding.  I called for him to come so we could do the bedtime routine.  I was in a hurry.  He stayed hidden.  I didn't want to play.  It was not on MY agenda.  So I cleaned his room, picked out books to read and tried to bribe him to come out of hiding.  He wanted me to come find him.  In his usual hiding place.  My closet.  But time was precious so I set out his clothes and yelled for him to come so WE COULD READ BOOKS.  I wanted the points for doing the Mommy thing.  The books were required.  Hide and go seek was not.  He came.  Bottom lip out.  Shoulders slumped.  Brush teeth.  Bathroom.  Pj's.  Book reading.  Kiss and prayers and little boy tucked in bed.  I got my deadline met.  But at a price.

I did all the proper Mommy things but in the end.... I stole my son's joy.  He wanted to be found.  I wanted to work.  He wanted to laugh.  I wanted to rush through the process.  He wanted Mommy to pay attention to him.  Though I took care of his needs - I missed him.

I have to confess.  I do this a lot.  I am often guilty of stealing joy from my kids.  In my fervor to get done with a project that eats at me day after day, I have stolen precious moments from my boys.  Not by NOT being there for them but by NOT giving them 100% of me.  The allure of the computer and the project has robbed my kids of me.  Rob is so much better at balancing work and play.  He WILL stop and give them his undivided attention.  He takes the time to play the silly games Aaron enjoys.  He patiently listens when Ben and Elijah storm into his work area and share their day.  He models how I need to be around my children.  My husband puts me to shame.

I don't want to steal joy from my children.  I don't want my agenda to be so important that though I maintain a nice appearance on the outside, in reality I am robbing my kids of what is precious.  Mom time.  Undivided attention.  I want to be WITH my kids.  100% with them.  I don't want to be torn between work and family.  I am ashamed when I consider how often I have stolen joy from the three boys whom I love with all my heart.

I don't have a solution.  I don't have a quick fix.  I didn't write this for any other reason than the fact that the Holy Spirit has been convicting me of my sin and the reality that I need to change.  This is my confession.  My acknowledgement to my family that I've been wrong.  My commitment to change. 

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Brothers

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!




John 13:34
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."



Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.



1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.



John 15:17
This is my command: Love each other.



Ephesians 5:2
Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Still Fatherless

This morning a family stood before a judge to adopt this sweet treasure.   The judge said no.



Here is why: 

Danil's adoption was denied because under new U law, children under age of 5 cannot be eligible for adoption UNLESS they have a special need. The list of special needs is specific, and DOES include Down syndrome. Danil has MOSAIC Down syndrome, and since the word Mosaic is not on the list, the judge deemed him unadoptable.

They love him.  He has NO future in his country.  They are going to appeal and we need to pray.  We need to pray for this fatherless little boy that the powers that be in that country will allow this adoption to proceed.  Their blog has gone private to protect the process.  Please pray for the family that God's peace will cover them during this time.  Pray for their facilitators that they would be wise in the way they proceed.  Pray for those who hear and will render a decision.  Pray church.  This little guy has a family who has crossed the ocean for him, fallen completely in love with him and desperately wants to bring him home. 




Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Value of Life

Yesterday, we sat down in front of a Richmond television camera and shared our story about Aaron.  I have no idea what the final result of that interview will look like, but it was a good opportunity for us to express our thanks to both Shriners Hospitals and Reece's Rainbow for all that they have done for us. Reece's Rainbow led us to Aaron, and then stood beside us while we fought the powers of this world for the right to bring him home. Shriners gives us the means to provide the best possible care for him. Without Reece's Rainbow, Aaron would have remained condemned to mental institutions for life. Without Shriners, we would have been unable to provide him with the care he needs so desperately.

I don't mean to say that both of these ministries are perfect. In my 49 young years, I have never encountered a perfect ministry, organization, group, church, business or anything else for that matter.  Every single one is flawed in some way. Because all of them are operated by human beings, all of them have flaws.  I have watched churches split apart, listened to myself and my co-workers grumble and grouse, and seen missions and ministries destroy themselves. I have seen enough to know that wherever human beings are involved, there is bound to be trouble. 

If I were God, I would have abandoned the idea of using flawed human beings to advance my kingdom a long time ago.

That's not God's way. God continues to move and work through His people, the church, to bring his message of grace and forgiveness to the world-- despite their many flaws.

Unbelievable.

I have never seen a perfect ministry.  I don't think I ever will. 

But God doesn't need a perfect ministry to work and move.   For thousands of years now, He has used flawed, sinful people to be His hands and feet.  He doesn't need perfect ministries and perfect people.  He just needs people who hear His call and have the faith to answer.

Ten years ago, a family in Maryland discovered that their newly born child had an extra chromosome.  They were at first devastated.    But in time they discovered that he was one of the greatest blessings of their lives, just as he was. The Mom decided to found a ministry to help other families discover the blessing her family had found.  She realized that almost every family in our amazing but extremely flawed country is advised, that abortion is the best choice for both baby and family.  She began to encourage families to CHOSE LIFE. 

And that was how Reece's Rainbow began: with one Christian family who spoke out for Life over death and reaped God's blessings. With one Mom who chose to speak out for the children with Down Syndrome who this world had abandoned and left for dead, children who needed a voice in a very fallen world. 

And God moved.  He saw her heart.  He took one imperfect mom and began to open her eyes, not only to the tragedy of abortion here in our country, but also to the tragedy of the Lost Boys and Girls across the ocean in baby house orphanages and mental institutions. To thousands of unwanted babies who were abandoned at birth because they were 'flawed'.  To thousands and thousands of children who had to spend their lives in exile because they were different.

Five years later, over 500 of those babes across the ocean have found homes through the ministry of Reece's Rainbow. What an amazing accomplishment! Has every adoption gone smoothly and perfectly? Of course not. Doesn't the Lord tell us that we must expect trouble when we follow Him? Despite these troubles, God has used Reece's Rainbow to answer the cries of those tiny, innocent little lost ones who the world rejected, but He never rejected.  He has used flawed human vessels to accomplish His work.  He hears the cries of the fatherless and sets them in families.  Imperfect, flawed families like ours.

Unbelievable.

Rob and I support Reece's Rainbow.  We found our son through Reece's Rainbow. Reece's Rainbow helped open our eyes to the plight of the voiceless.  We recognize that no ministry is perfect, but Reece's Rainbow is doing a work that is good and right, and it deserves our support.  It is a ministry that gives voice to the Least of These-- to children like Reece and Aaron, whose disabilities almost led the world to toss them aside forever.  I know of very few other ministries that actively seek out those that the world has rejected--  very few indeed.  Reece's Rainbow is unique in that it works to find abandoned children, then works to remove one of the biggest obstacles to bringing them home: money.  Every child five years old and under has his or her own grant account. Through word of mouth, blogs, facebook, e-mails and more, Reece's Rainbow has received hundreds of thousands of dollars into those accounts.  Hundreds of families have benefited from those donations, and hundreds of children have come home as a result.  We were one of those families.  Aaron was one of those children.

Recently, RR was nominated for a Classy Award that recognizes how well they have used the internet to spread their message.  It is a well-deserved nomination, because they honestly do a rather brilliant job at on-line messaging. They are a voice for the voiceless here in our abortion-friendly country, and a voice for the voiceless across the ocean. Awards like this spread the word about their ministry and help raise money for the kids-- both extremely worthy goals. So, if you are feeling so inclined today, you can help Reece's Rainbow win the award.  It's easy, it's free, and it doesn't take long.  Today is the LAST day you can vote.  You just follow the instructions below.  If RR wins, they will be awarded $15,000 for their Voice of Hope fund, plus a whole lot of awareness.

1) Click this link
2) Scroll down to "Most Innovative Use of Social Media"
3) Open that section
4) Vote for Reece's Rainbow
5) Scroll back and hit "submit my vote"

Yesterday we were able to sing the praises of both Reece's Rainbow and Shriners-- two organizations who actively seek out children whom the world has rejected.    They value Life.  They value Children.  In a world that rejects the less-than-perfect, we rejoice that there are organizations out there that stand up for them.  We have been blessed beyond measure by Shriners.  It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to say thank you to the men who so willingly work 20-hour days hauling us up to Philadelphia and back.  Without complaining.  Every single time we need to go.  We were privileged to share about the hospital and the doctors and nurses who have so lovingly cared for Aaron. What a golden opportunity to express our gratefulness.  It was worth the drive.  It was worth the agony of facing the camera.  It was well worth our time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not Excited About Today. Nope.

Guess what we are doing today???

You will never ever guess in a million years.

The very LAST thing that either Rob or I would EVER EVER EVER volunteer to do...

But we couldn't say no.

We are way too grateful to Shriners to ever say no.

So we are gritting our teeth and driving to Richmond today.

So we can be filmed with Aaron in a commercial for Shriners.

Anyone who knows Rob is laughing their guts out about right now..... Getting him to even look into a regular camera is an amazing feat.

And me.... As soon as I even see a moving camera, my tongue gets stuck to the roof of my mouth.

On top of that..... We have NOTHING to wear.

Seriously.

We are country bumpkins.  We live in jeans and t-shirts all day every day.

I don't wear makeup.

I don't have fancy clothes.

But we can't say no.

So we are driving to Richmond today.  We have NO IDEA what is going to be involved.  We just know that we have been given much in the last 10 months - more than we could ever repay.

So we are agreeing to do what we never ever in a million years would ever volunteer to do.

Honestly, we are hoping that they will cut all of our scenes, zoom in on Aaron's cute dimples and call it a day!!






Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rumblings

Feeling a little earthquakey here... Considering the epicenter was only about 40 miles away... I'm NOT surprised!! 


When the entire house started shaking and things were falling off walls etc.... I ran into the living room, grabbed Aaron and headed for a tiny little hallway on our first floor.  Elijah - being the smart Boy Scout BUT obedient son that he is - stood in the hall with me but kept telling me that we are SUPPOSED TO GO OUTSIDE!  I was of course too SHAKEN UP to think about what he was saying so we stayed put....

Guess what... when an earthquake hits... the best place to go is..... OUTSIDE!

Okay - in my defense.... I am NOT a Boy Scout and the last time I took a class on what to do in an earthquake was in elementary school!!

The aftershocks are not lasting long enough for me to put my newfound knowledge into practice.

Hope it stays that way!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

School - Sigh

Ben went back to school today at the local Community College.



I guess that means I have to start dragging Elijah out of bed so he too can start school.



I'm so not ready for school.

To be perfectly honest, we have struggled with what to do with Aaron.  In the learning department we have reached the point where we are scratching our heads on how best to move him from point A to point B.  In some areas he is exceptionally bright.  His understanding of all things mechanical, his directional abilities and his ability to grasp cause and effect is uncanny.  Watching him figure out how to put a puzzle together or work a new game on the computer or manipulate a mechanical device reassures us that our son is as cognitively normal as they come.  But in other areas he really struggles.  His greatest struggle is in the area of language.  He understands everything we say to him.  He can communicate well his needs and wants. But he has a hard time retaining and recalling words in his short term memory.   This is having a profound effect on teaching him basic pre-school/kindergarten material.  It takes an enormous amount of time to get him to retain and recall simple words including color words, numbers, letters and more.  He understands the concepts behind the words but can't recall the words even if they are said to him seconds before.  Only when he is able to log the words into his long term memory is he retaining them. 

Part of his issue is motivation.  Aaron doesn't honestly see the need to remember or retain the color words or the numbers or the letters.  They mean nothing.  So he tends to resist our attempts to get him to remember the word.  Those words that interest him - he remembers without any trouble.  He learned the words left and right without anyone telling him.  He cares about directions so he learned those words.  Not only did he learn those words but he knows which is left and which is right.  No one in this house remembers teaching him those concepts.  But the color words - that's another story.  He can match the colors but can't name the colors.  (He is NOT color blind) From his perspective - it is useless information that has no meaning in his world.  The English language is hard to grasp and he is choosing to focus on what matters to him.  Colors don't matter.  He knows them.  He doesn't need to name them.

The other part of his issue is emotional.  Aaron used language as a way to control his world at the mental institute.  While he was there, in his deep hurt, he refused to talk to the caretakers except on his terms.  For their part, they did not consider him intelligent enough to carry on a conversation and they were far too busy to engage him even if they did consider him worthy of talk.  So for a year he lived in a world of moans, groans and occasional discussions about the only thing that the boys could see or hear - vehicles, planes and birds.  Because of this, he lost a lot of his own language.  By the time we got him, his vocabulary was extremely limited. He spoke only of what he cared about - machines and airplanes.  He would not use words to indicate need or desire.  He instead used motions and staring at objects as a means to communicate with us what he wanted.  He still tries to use signs as a means to communicate but we push him to express himself.  Telling us this weekend that he hates his cast was huge.  It was the first time he ever used a negative word to describe how he was feeling.

Finally, we have yet to figure out if there is a true learning disability going on that is preventing him from retaining the words.  It is here where we are left scratching our heads.  I have worked with and taught numerous children over the years but none with the same history and issues as Aaron.  In many ways, in the learning department, we have felt that we are just muddling through.  Is it a learning disability or does it stem from the emotional trauma he experience for a solid year?  To be completely honest, I lean towards his issues as having a more emotional root but right now it is manifesting itself as a learning disability.  Either way it needs to be addressed.

We have agonized over what to do.   It has been cause for much prayer and discussion.  At this point, because of the contraption on his right arm, we are sticking with what we have been doing all along - immersing him in the language as best as we can, working with him on his basic concepts, exposing him to music, computer games and videos that are focused on the same concepts and muddling through.  We will be getting him evaluated at our local public school to get him qualified for services.  In Virginia, he is eligible for services, even if we homeschool him.  So this week we will begin the process of getting him tested.  I have no doubt that speech and Occupational Therapy will be at the top of their lists. 

Knowing where Aaron has come from, we usually are able to stay calm about where he is in regards to his academic level.  Some days we panic (especially me) when we consider how much he needs to do to catch up with his peers.   It is in those days where I have to keep reminding myself of how far he has come (miles).  We also need only watch him put a puzzle together or figure out how to play a complicated game on the ipad within minutes of getting it started that we are able to take a deep breath and know that in the end, Aaron is going to be fine.


P.S. See this absolutely beautiful quilt???


It was handmade by an Aaron admirer. 



It hasn't exactly made it on his bed yet.  He needs it for his cars and trains.


One happy boy!


How can we begin to say THANK YOU to all the people who continue to love on our little guy from afar.  It totally blows us away. 

Of course these pictures were taken PRE-Surgery. 

Aaron's not convinced right now that he can play with his cars and trains as long as he has the cast on his arm.  He's actually not convinced he can do ANYTHING as long as he has the cast on his arm.  We are hoping he will soon change his mind because keeping him entertained all day is becoming a full-time job!!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

HGI$%$DGE** - By Aaron



It's been a hard couple of days for little one. Not only has he been battling the pain in his arm, but he's been mourning the loss of his best hand.  We have been compromising as much as we can by letting his feet out of the braces for extra hours each day. 

Yesterday in his boredom he got hold of the ipad and tapped into my Facebook account.  For a child who can't read - I was rather impressed with his hacking skills. 

His hacking would have gone unnoticed if he hadn't decided to leave his own personal status:

Fchbjnmncxsaattjhggzsddfghhygdssffjiiyfesggojoidrttjjggddyhjiuhssshgooggdxggjjgfddxgchbvfvbnmnmnbnvviiggbbtghghghhh;$$dxxxfchgddsDxgcdxdzcchhbcxccghvhhfxcxoklvfcchhggddfduhyggfdygyuhtffdtffhhfffdhhgfddfdjjhhttccHhddrdtfrriiillesqAZqghhhhgvgfcjjjhggiiggiiifdyygfftfyjjjjdvdxjjmmllkppoiuytewqqqqqqqqqqqqxczcbnmmaawahkmmkqsrwertyuuiiopjfcbhjngvhkmkmfhmvkmgvhjmkmfffkffgjjffddhjgfcfcjngfjuhjkkgfynmmmnnnnmNmnjnvv

I think that the gist of what Aaron was trying to say is that HE HATES HIS CAST!! At least that is what he has told me quite a number of times today so I am guessing that is what he was trying to tell the world.

Frankly, after quite a number of nights waking up with little one - THAT'S HOW I FEEL TOO....


Friday, August 19, 2011

Fatherless Friday...

It has been a hard week in the Reece's Rainbow world.  The exposed horrors in one orphanage across the ocean have caused many to sit up and take notice.  The pictures of two little 9 and 11 year old emaciated girls with Down Syndrome have moved a lot of people out of their complacency. 

Almost 22,000 dollars was raised to help RANSOM a little girl from her horrible situation in LESS THAN 24 hours.

How can you not be moved to action after seeing these girls?

PICTURES REMOVED TO PROTECT THE ADOPTION PROCESS...


How can you stand quietly by knowing there are eleven more precious treasures in the SAME desperate condition as they are? 

It is heart wrenching. 

I scarcely know how to respond.

Seeing how many have posted the story across the internet I know I am NOT alone. 

We feel so helpless and overwhelmed when we see such need. 

We wonder how man can do such evil to man.

We cry out against the ugliness and the horror of it all.

We do what we can.

We pray.

We yell and holler and advocate.

We weep.

And we do everything we can to support the families who are sacrificing everything to rescue these and so many more.

There are 2 families who are so CLOSE to traveling.

One family, the Taylors, has been on my heart for months now. 

They have been through the wringer with their adoption. 

Their story is unusual and complicated (so bear with me ) in that they committed to a little guy whose real name was Sasha.  They fell in love with his picture and a video taken of him last fall.  I featured that video on my blog and begged for a family to go get him.  From what we all understood - Sasha (Alexander) had been transferred but was still available for adoption.

Well - it was true.  SASHA HAD been transferred - but not the Sasha in the picture and video.  The Sasha in the picture and video was another little guy.  Both Sasha's were born in the same year and both have Down Syndrome.

Does this mix-up surprise me.

Not a bit.

Our Aaron's name at the institute was Vanya (it is now his middle name).  In his group there were at least 2 other Vanyas.  There was also at least one more Vanya that we know of in one of the other groups.  I am sure that if we had a chance to dig - we would have found a whole lot more.  Vanya is one of the John Doe names that they seem to like to give to orphans.  The other John Doe name is Sasha.  At Aaron's institute - both of the older boys with DS were called Sasha.  The little boy who sat at Aaron's table was Sasha.  One of the older boys in the same group was Sasha.  Do you get it? 

Vanya - Sasha

Two John Doe names.

Because of the similiarities in names and the similarities in age and condition, the files were mixed.  The picture submitted to the SDA of the one Sasha was the wrong picture. 

By God's grace the mix-up was realized and the real Sasha now has a family who is going for him.

The Sasha (Alexander) that the Taylors thought they were adopting was actually not released for adoption by his family.

This put the Taylors in a real bind.

Do they wait to find out if the family would release him or do they choose another child. 

They dearly loved Alexander.  It was a gut-wrenching decision.

I have been beyond impressed with their faith in this whole situation.  While many would be bitter and rant and rave against the powers that be who made the mistake, they have tried hard to keep their eyes fixed on the One who is over and above the entire situation.  While many would be pointing fingers, they have realized that 3 boys have hope instead of one.  While many would be angry and choose to walk away, they have chosen to stay the course.

After much prayer, soul searching and counsel, the Taylors made the decision that they needed to let Alexander (Sasha) go.  They decided to move forward with another child, Andriy, and place Alexander in the Lord's hands.

Andriy

It was a hard decision and with it came the reality that though they were FULLY FUNDED with Alexander, they were NOT with Andriy.  This is because the money in Alexander's account stays with him and so only the money that was donated directly to the Taylors is theirs to keep.

This meant they were over 6,000 short.  Yet they believed that despite the shortfall, this is the right direction for their family.

Yesterday two things happened - their dossier was submitted in Andriy's country and Alexander was refused by his family. Though this means he will be available - it will be another THREE MONTHS before he can be legally adopted.

The timing actually affirmed for the Taylor's that their decision was good and right for their family because they are traveling within a month.  They would NOT have been able to get Alexander.

Yes their hearts are broken but God is healing them and they are rejoicing that Andriy is coming home.

They are still a little over 4,000 short of what they need.

Please let's bless this family - their faith - their willingness to keep their eyes focused on the Lord through the entire situation.  Please stand with them in support and love as they let go of the child who led them to adopt in the first place.  They have a Giveaway going on their blog. 

Please click HERE and help. 

When Alexander/Sasha is again available for adoption - I will be shouting with the Taylors to find him a family!!!

Finally.....

I have one more family I want to tell you about this morning.

The CENTER FAMILY is adopting Wallace and they are thousands of dollars short.  They leave on September 11 to go get their cutie.
 

That is less than THREE WEEKS.

PLEASE GO TO THEIR FAMILY SPONSORSHIP PAGE AND HELP THEM.

You can link to it HERE.

Wallace is beautiful and healthy right now.  He is not emaciated and at the edge of death.  But his future is grim if left where he is.  PRAISE GOD his family responded to the Holy Spirit whispering.  Praise God they are going.  Let's help them church!!  

We can't physically cross the ocean and address the issues of neglect and abuse. We can support the families who are going to get some of the children out.  One by one - every little bit - it makes a difference.  Just read THIS BLOG to see how God uses the families who are adopting to change the hearts of the directors and caretakers and other powers that be over there.  It seems so trivial - one child - one adoption - when millions are laying in cribs - but each one has an affect. 

And every time we give, support, pray, encourage - every single time we take part in small or big ways - we are helping to make a difference. 

As Adeye said this week... IT IS OUR PROBLEM.





Thursday, August 18, 2011

Joshua Parker

Joshua has been admitted to the hospital today.


Please pray.

His family is not ready to say goodbye.

Joshua has told them that "pretty soon it would be time to go see Jesus."

Their hearts are breaking.

Please pray.

You can access their Caringbridge page through the blog HERE. Just click on the picture of Josh with the paintbrush.


Home

We are home. 

But Aaron is ready to make the long drive back to Philly to tell that 'silly' doctor (in his limited vocabulary, silly is the VERY WORST word he can think of to indicate total distaste for someone) and get him to take that cast off his arm.  He cried a good bit of the evening and through the night - each time the pain medicine wore off.  We gave him Melatonin along with the pain medicine so he was able to sleep when he wasn't hurting.

It's going to be a rough couple of days for him.

We got a few smiles out of him when we took him outside and helped him fly some of the Air Hogs he got for his birthday.




Don't be fooled - these were just about the ONLY real smiles we got out of him last night!!



Can you see the helicopter??



I'm grateful for big brothers....


This morning....

Well.... I'll let the picture indicate how he feels about his current state of affairs..



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amazing Boy

When we walked back to recovery and saw Aaron for the first time we both just about lost it.  He was crying out in pain and his arm...well....  They told us he would be in a SPLINT coming out of surgery.  It was the strangest, most cumbersome looking splint I have ever seen.

We both started crying as we rushed over to comfort him.  His crying did not take us by surprise.  We fully expected him to be crying.  The last time he came out of surgery he was angry, combative and screamed all the way back to Virginia. We were prepared for the worst though we had asked the anesthesiologists to see if they could do something to prevent it from happening again.  It was the arm contraption that was knocking us both for a loop.

But after about 5 minutes of crying, Aaron slipped into a peaceful sleep.  It lasted for hours.  While he was out, we were able to examine the contraption on Aaron's arm and talk extensively to one of the two surgeons who operated on him.  (Dr. Zlotolow).  He was so kind to take the time to explain everything in terms we could understand.  They were well pleased with the surgery.  It was not perfect because Aaron is older and this is a surgery they do on much younger children.  But it was at the next best level.  The simple version - they were able to rotate his arm and get it into an angle that will allow him to feed himself.  I'm not going to even try to give the long version!!

We are so grateful for the Shriner's doctors.  Their care and concern for our son touches us deeply.  As we stood there with tears in our eyes and talked to Dr. Zlotolow, we realized anew how blessed we have been to find a hospital that actively pursues the best in the world for the benefit of children like Aaron.  All three of Aaron's doctors are outstanding.  Both of the arm surgeons worked on our little guy yesterday.   What a comfort to know that he was in excellent hands!



Our littlest did not wake up until he was back in the room and we had sent out our "Oh My Heart" picture post and FB update.  When he did awaken, he was calm, a bit loopy, pain free, talking and starving.  He spent the next three hours focused solely and completely on food.



He went from ice chips to juice to jello to 3 packs of crackers to an entire turkey sandwich loaded with turkey, lettuce, tomato and cheese.  After he took the last bite he rolled over and promptly fell asleep.

He woke only to use the bathroom or when the buzzers would sporadically start going off and the nurses would have to run in the room and try to figure out what was happening.  Most of the time it was the contraption on the end of his finger that was not cooperating. 



As I ministered to my little son throughout yesterday and through the night, I was amazed at his attitude.    He had people poking and prodding him all day yesterday. Despite this, he was jolly with most everyone who walked in his room.  His arm was stuck in a position that is most definitely awkward and miserable.  Yet he didn't complain or strike out at us for causing him to have this new and strange torture device. His sleep was interrupted over and over again through the night, yet he took it in stride.  He kept checking on me to make sure I was in a bed and I was comfortable.  His sweetness level was just plain off the charts.

He is an amazing boy with an amazing ability to find joy in the simplest of pleasures. 

He completely humbles me.



As for me....

Well....

I only had one mini-crisis over the loss of my slippers.

Okay - maybe it wasn't mini. 

I wear my slippers ALL. THE. TIME. 

Every year for Christmas  I get a new pair because I wear out the old one.

They are always on my feet!

But not last night.

Nope.

We left them at the hotel across town.

Never to be seen again because we are NOT going to drive down that boulevard if we can help it.

So I was forced to go without my slippers for the night.

I'm walking around the hospital room in socks.  Rob's socks. 

Missing my slippers and wondering how in the WORLD I am ever going to make it to Christmas!!


 
SIGH!!

Addendum to this post...... Do NOT get me slippers.  I wrote that as a joke and to illustrate what a baby I am compared to my son!!!  All of you who saw the picture of the slippers... delete that from your brains... PLEASE!!



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh My Heart







Truth

Aaron has surgery today.

I slept little last night.  The worry over today coupled with some images I saw yesterday robbed me of rest.

I tossed and turned.

Torn between wanting to focus my heart today on Aaron's needs and yet not being able to release the pictures in my mind.


So, while my littlest sleeps quietly in the next bed, I am writing this post.

Writing from deep within in my heart.

We left 110 LOST BOYS behind.

We watched and loved from afar 66 of them.  The 66 who could walk or sit in a wheelchair.  The 66 who were brought outside and placed in sheds every day. 

Their conditions were miserable and caused us great sorrow.

But we knew that they were only part of the story.  Hidden away in the back buildings were 44 more boys.  44 more LOST BOYS in the laying down rooms.  Boys between the ages of 5-18.  Boys who could not sit up on their own.  Boys who were unable to feed themselves.  Boys who lay day after day in their beds with no stimulation. 

We knew they were there.

We had glimpses of a few that broke our hearts.

But not seeing them makes them easy to forget.  Easy to ignore. 

Easy.

Not today.

Not after seeing this precious treasure.

PICTURE REMOVED TO PROTECT THE ADOPTION PROCESS

Nine years old.

Lost for NINE YEARS until yesterday.

Lost until God whispered and a family answered the call.

Never held.  Never held.

Never held until yesterday.

At first so stiff.  Terrified. 



But with soothing words and whispered prayers from a broken Mama's heart...

She calmed....

Relaxed....

And eventually laughed.



Lost no more.

Forever and Forever Loved.

Do you see why my heart cries deep within me?

We left 110 Lost Boys behind.

Sometimes it is easy to forget them. 

After all, they are the Lost Boys.

But not today.

Not today.

44 boys are across the ocean in Aaron's former institute lying in cribs and beds IN THE SAME CONDITION as this babe.

Truth hurts.

Please dear friends - pray for this newly found treasure.



She is in a country that requires several trips.  She doesn't get to go home yet.  She has to go back to that crib and lay there day after lonely day for months and months.  She is in pitiful condition.  Her parents fear for her life.

Please pray that her story will move the officials to expedite the adoption process.  Please pray that God will sustain her life until she can come home.  Please pray for her family as they are in shock over what they have seen and heard. 

Pray.

Their blog is HERE.

And shout.

Shout loud and long and clear because she is NOT one of only a few.  We know of 44 boys who are in the same condition. 

Hanson is one.

Available for adoption.



Not quite SIX YEARS OLD but already a Lost Boy.

Already a Lost Boy.

He lays in a back building at Aaron's old institute. 

Hidden. 

Wasting away.  Day after lonely day.

My little one is sleeping in the next bed.  He faces a hard surgery today.  We know he is going to suffer.

But he is no longer Lost.  He is a found, precious, precious treasure.



There are so many more.

P.S.  If we can figure out how to get internet at Shriner's (a mystery we have yet to untap in all of our visits there), we will be posting updates on Aaron's surgery on my Facebook (Julia Arnold Nalle).









Monday, August 15, 2011

Oh My!

We woke up yesterday morning to the weather man forecasting that the skies were literally going to cave in.  Thunderstorms, hail, lightning, the works. 

What to do... what to do... Aaron's party was IN A PARK!  30+ people coming with a only small overhanging shelter to keep the sun off but not torrents of rain..... Oh My!!

We cancelled.

Based on an onimous weather forecast.

BLUE SKIES.

Not a drop of rain.  Not a single drop.

Sigh.



He still had fun opening presents at his cousin' house and he shared his cake with the children at church (our church meets Sunday afternoons) so all was not lost.  But Goodness.  Weather reporters....I could say a whole lot of words..... but.... I'm holding my tongue!



We left for Shriner's EARLY this morning.

Rob, Aaron and myself.

We dragged out of bed early so Aaron could get his braces adjusted today. His surgery on his elbow is tomorrow but we were desperate for the straps on his braces to be fixed.  So they told us to come today. MONDAY.  A day early.  OKAY....

We did.

A day early.

No one was in any of the waiting rooms.  No children.  Nothing.  Weird.



Just Aaron.

We turned in our paperwork and they sent us to prosthetics.... No one there either.  Weird.

We rang the bell to let them know we were there... Hmmmm.... Why were we there?  To get straps fixed????  Well.... how about we do them TOMORROW while Aaron is in surgery.  TOMORROW.  Not today.  Didn't need to come today.  No one was there today.  Is this a children's hospital?? Where in the world were all the children today???

Come back tomorrow.  Sigh....

BOTH Ronald McDonald houses full.

THAT must be where all the children had gone.

Sigh!

Typing this from a hotel 20 minutes away.

I'm ready to go home.

On our way to Shriner's, Aaron was sitting in his car seat figuring out that since he didn't have his braces on.... he could use his toes to make his window go up and down.  It was an exciting discovery for the "I'm not going to go to sleep even though you dragged me out of bed early" youngest son of mine.  Window up.  Window down. 

He was also playing with his sandals.     The ones we bought at the beach last week that we figured would last us TWO summers because they were a tad too big. 

Windows.... sandals... windows.... sandals....

Windows.....minus one sandal...

Out the window while driving 70 miles an hour on the highway....

Oh My!

No - we can't go back and get your sandal.....



They called us while we were enroute to give us the scoop on tomorrow's surgery schedule.

Poor babe doesn't have surgery until 12:00 noon. 

I asked the lady for the official name of his surgery.  We knew what they were doing but had never seen it in writing.

She paused.

Asked me if I really wanted to know.

Ummmm... Yes....

I grabbed my pen....

She took a deep breath and began to give me the official name of THE FOUR PROCEDURES they are going to do on his tiny little elbow.

What???  Can you be so kind as to say that again slowly???

Oh My Goodness.

It is too tiny for them to do all that!!

THREE HOURS to cut, move, twist, turn, break and repair.  Three hours on one tiny little boy's elbow.

Three hours to give him the simple ability to bend his elbow.  Three hours to accomplish what we take for granted thousands of times every single day.  Three hours.

I am officially a wreck.

I'm so glad these guys are along for the ride....


Aaron can have them tonight....



But I get them tomorrow.