Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kori's Story



Sometimes adoption breaks a Mama's heart so badly that the words cannot come for a very long time.  Sometimes what is seen and experienced is so gut-wrenching that it takes time and distance to begin to heal the pain.  Sometimes.  

A little over a year ago a Mama and Papa crossed the ocean to get a little Reece's Rainbow angel.  They knew she had been transferred.  They knew.  But knowing and seeing are two very different things.  Last year they discovered what transfer meant for their precious treasure.  It was unbearably hard.  While there their eyes were opened to the plight of special needs children in that place.  We followed their journey closely as we had just come home with Aaron and understood on many levels the agony they were experiencing.  We prayed for them, encouraged them, did whatever we could from afar to support them.  Unlike our experience, they were not in a completely closed facility and were able to walk the halls of the mental institute and touch the other children.  They learned their names and fell in love with them bit by bit, day by day.  In doing so their hearts were broken over and over and over again.  

Sometimes adoption breaks a Mama's heart so badly that the words cannot come for a very long time.  Sometimes what is seen and experienced is so gut-wrenching that it takes time and distance to begin to heal the pain.  Sometimes.  

But when the time is right... then the story needs to be told.  And it is time for Kori Maria's story to be told.




 I feel privileged indeed that Kori's Mama, Anna, has allowed me to share here on this blog some of the words that took so long to come.  I am honored to call her friend.  I am grateful for the ties that have knit our hearts together as we grieve for all the hidden children left behind.


This is Kori's story...
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The doors open. We are treated to tea and cookies and treats in the director’s office.  Afterwards they walk us to meet the  person we had been waiting so long to see. Doors swing open left and right.  Joshua, barely able to keep from vomiting.  Something about the unusual smells and triggers he is unprepared to face.  People of all ages and levels of disability stand.  And watch.  And one after the other speaks the word: “Amerikanskis”.

The word multiplies and follows us like the roar of a huge wave.  No one  believes that these Americans have come to their mental institution.  Could it be true? Are they coming to adopt a child from HERE??
Plastic slippers.  Flickering TV screens.  Oriental rugs.  Old drafty windows.   People with Down Syndrome.  Cerebral Palsy.  Cleft Palate.  Deformities.  Mental illness.  Hidden from society, where only the perfect are welcome. Discarded.  Unwanted.  Alone.  Day after day here, never leaving this building.
She sits in a ball pit with colorful toys surrounding her.  The six month old baby with the sweet little hat that makes her look like a little old lady. Her eyes crossing. Cute. Now where is Masha?
But wait. This is an Eastern European mental institution. They only take ages 4 and up.  A second look. There is no freaking way.
There is no way in heaven or hell that this can be…..she is almost eight……
I drop to my knees, grab the tiniest baby hands and stare into the eyes of the eight year old trapped in a body no larger than that of a small six month old infant. What in the name of  God….
“Masha. It is Mama. Mama is here”.


I manage to say these words while the room suddenly fills with caregivers. People in white coats. Women weeping. So many crying women.  I ask permission to lift her out of the ball pit and she immediately rests her weary head against my shoulder as if to say : "You have finally come. I assume this is what kids like me do with ladies like you.” 
I tell her : "Hi beautiful princess” and a caregiver behind me bursts into tears. “Princessa Masha!” she exclaims, now crying so hard that I am worried for her for a moment. 



We are asked if we will accept the referral of this child.   We accept. 



And as we spend a month daily visiting her in the only home that has cared for this beautiful small girl after she aged out of the baby orphanage, we learn about the reality of the imperfect people in this country.  Beautiful people. Tucked away as far from society as possible. Out of sight. Out of mind.
We walked among angels. The souls that live out their lives under these conditions have left their indelible mark on mine.  Their faces.  I see their eyes.  I still see their eyes.


 I saw the children in their "bedridden" room in their beds alone, begging for some attention and love. The small guy with his hands tied in a cloth.  I saw the old building that needs so much work.  I saw the older children with CP scooting on all fours down the hall, too old for adoption and no hope of a life outside of that institution.

I sat on those couches with some of the teenage girls who brushed my hair...and held my hands...and got hugs and kisses... I called them Princess V., and Princess I. (and all the other beautiful names of all those sweet kids) I went on this adoption trip with some rings and necklaces, and the girls wore them proudly. They learned some English....but I hope that most of all they learned what love is. My heart broke leaving them.. Every day when I got Kori from her room, I blew kisses at the children there and I said my "pryvet" to each and every one of them there.  The smiles were priceless.

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When we got to the institution after court, the director's assistant ( who was in court with us to represent the institution) was very happy and told the director that we had passed court.  

We went upstairs and they brought Kori to us.  While playing, we noticed that a number of children were being walked down the hall in nice outfits.  Maybe it was a holiday?  

One by one the children were being photographed.  We stood, we watched.  We were amazed.  Kori's adoption had made them realize that people DO want these kids.  Every single one that was legally available.  They were being photographed to update their adoption listing.  I wish I could have gotten video of this.  The excitement.  The joy.  It was contagious.  As the pictures were being snapped, we stood there and clapped and yelled:  "Horosho!" (good) along with the caregivers.  Random caregivers stopped by and showed us their little ones and asked us to bring them home too.  Doors of hope were being opened and the joy on the faces of the caregivers was wonderful beyond words.  


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Within 24 hours of Kori leaving the mental institute she had a seizure.  It is common for European mental institutes to sedate some of the residents, and although no one could say for sure, it was suspected that Kori's seizure was related to sudden withdrawal of sedative medication.   After a day or two without the drugs, while still in country, her tiny nearly eight year old body could not handle the sudden change and she began to seize.  An ambulance was called.   The EMT's called hospital after hospital, trying to find one that would agree to take Kori and treat her.


They were turned down at four hospitals.  She was not wanted.  Finally, after negotiations, the last hospital relented and decided to admit Kori.  

Sometimes adoption breaks a Mama's heart so badly that the words cannot come for a very long time.  Sometimes what is seen and experienced is so gut-wrenching that it takes time and distance to begin to heal the pain.  Sometimes.

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Time stood still.  Seconds seemed like minutes, minutes seemed like hours.  We had adopted her and had only had her in our custody for about 24 hours.   Her little body shook violently in my arms. She gasped for air over and over.  Her eyes rolled back in her head. Our daughter was having a massive seizure. I feared that this was it.  That she was going to die before she would ever meet her brothers.  She would quite possibly never experience more than just a 12 hour train ride, cradled in the arms of her daddy.






 It would be twenty minutes before the ambulance would get there.When the ambulance finally arrived the seizure was over. Kori was lethargic and weak. The EMT ladies placed her on the bed and undressed her. Apparently her temperature was extremely low. They gave her several injections and then the yelling began. One of the women argued loudly with our facilitator.  I could tell it was about Kori’s condition.  I am sure this was a shock to them.


A seven year old child with Down Syndrome who weighed 16 pounds and looked exactly like a 7 month old infant. Her eyes infected.  Her teeth so rotten that the smell was noticeable even from a distance. Her legs limp and stick like.

I  experienced first hand the disgusted look the EMS people gave my little girl. The way they left her barely clothed on the bed. The way they spoke the words: "Down Syndrome'', spitting them out with anger and repeating over and over.  We were unfit parents and she should have remained in her institution.  Five hospitals refused her medical care.  My facilitator held her hand out for 200 hrivna bills more times than I can count at the hospital that finally admitted her.  That money was paid to the doctor, to the nurses, as "incentive money". One nurse was especially horrible to Kori and caused her pain on purpose.  My facilitator met her in the hallway and handed her a 200 hrivna bill in exchange for humane treatment for my daughter. 


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I used to say I could never go back. After she had a seizure in the city, and we witnessed  first hand exactly how poorly people with Down Syndrome are treated, I thought I could never ever set foot in that country again. 



On days like today though, all I want is to go back.  To sit on that couch in the hallway.  I long to hold the children I came to love while I was there.  I want to tell them they matter.  Oh, how they matter.  I want to simply walk the halls and make eye contact with the forgotten.  I see you.  And you.  And you.  And you.  Who will see? How can I make people SEE??  See these amazing spirits, these survivors, these quietly fading people?



The baby "princessa" has been home a year. 



Yet, my heart is still somewhere in that mental institution.  It wanders the halls, looking for a way to reach, to comfort.  And that is fine.




Because I don’t seem to really need a heart here.  It seems that money and material goods are considered enough around these parts, here in this country we call home. We stuff ourselves and we indulge, while people right under our very noses are in need of our help. Our love. Hope.  I want to walk those halls, one more time.  If it only shows one person that they matter, that they have infinite value, then it is worth it.


                                                                          Kori Maria.  You are very much worth it.


So very much worth it.



P.S.  Please do not remove any of these pictures from this  blogpost.  You may link and share but do not remove the pictures.  Thank you.

59 comments:

  1. Bless her heart! Thank you for sharing her story. I followed Anna's journey to get her sweet Georgie too.:)

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  2. I was reading this story and I was afraid I was going to read that she actually did die back in Europe. I am so happy that she is home now and doing well. I do wish they treated people with disabilities much better over there.

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  3. My mind will never understand, my heart will never stop hurting. The Lord can not come back soon enough. I Pray for the forgotten Princes and Princessa's.

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  4. Thank you for sharing! I read the beginning of their story on their blog before they closed it, and I've wondered since then what happened to them and how Kori is doing. I'm so happy to see the beautiful photos of her, and thrilled to hear about how the other children were being photographed to get listed! Thank you so much!

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  5. Julia, please don't ever doubt that this blog is a ministry and that God is using you to open eyes and change hearts. Bless you.

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  6. My heart is broken this morning. I just cannot fathom having to pay someone to treat my child humanely. We have our problems here in the US, but Godspeed to the effort of educating that country about special needs. Holy cow. What a story. Praise the Lord that the institution is beginning to have hope for more adoptions.

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  7. Thank you Julia... and Anna...

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  8. Sweet Lord Jesus...I can't even begin to understand. But I am PRAISING him for the beauty he has restored to this horrific situation!

    Brooke
    www.TheAnnessaFamily.com

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  9. Shocking, even after all these years of watching families meet their children. Amazing, the transformation of Kori. Thank you for sharing your story, Kori's mom. Thank you for sharing the story, Julia. I will be haunted by the thought of a parade of children in their nice clothes, being photographed, glimpsing hope. Oh Lord, that You would turn the hearts of the people to their children, all their children, so that this would be completely unnecessary, unheard of, shocking...as it should be.

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  10. Thank you for sharing her story with the world! I pray that each word is read and that hearts are moved to follow and bring more angels into forever families! When we took Dusty to see the doctor that was required by the embassy I was brought to tears with the way she looked at him with disgust and examined him so harshly! How I wish she could see him now!
    Blessings!
    Amy

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  11. Thank you Anna and Julia for posting this update about Kori. I remember so clearly seeing her picture on the MFFM page and rejoicing. I have often wondered how she was doing and now I am so glad to know that she is blossoming. Truly this country in EE is filled with the missing pieces of the hearts of all of us who have gone there to adopt our hidden treasure(s).
    Patty

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  12. Julia, this post is so beautiful!
    I have been praying so hard for a "jail break" in this institution similar to what happened when little verity's story was shared. . .there are so many beautiful children there that need desperately to get home, just like Kori did. Also, these children are available not only for adoption but for sponsorship. I participate in this program and the changes in the children have been nothing short of miracluous. People can get more information on this program on my blog www.hopefortheforgotten.blogspot.com under the tab "sponsor these orphans." I hope everyone will continue to pray for miracles for the children in this institution and that *all* will be adopted. So many are listed on RR on the older angels pages. Would you be willing to share them on your blog? I've also been trying to email you but don't know how to find your email address. Could you please please please shoot me an email? My email is on my blog.
    Thank you Julia, and bless you for all you are doing for the children!

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  13. I love seeing Gods redeeming grace. Georgie caught my heart & I've followed Anna's journey to both her blessings. I have no doubt we NEED to see these things because the compassion we have in us is what God now uses to drive us to do more for His precious children who need someone to do something for them. Your voice for them has done wonders! God bless you & God speed as you continue on your calling.

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  14. I saw this little girls picture on life2orphans photo album and have been praying for her. How wonderful to see her now. Thank you God. May our hearts be open to all the others like her who need a family.

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  15. Thank you Julia. And Anna, your words have pierced my heart. I couldn't understand why all I wanted to do is go back. Now, I think I understand a little better.

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  16. thanks for sharing Julia. Very heartbreaking, but very glad she surrvived.

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  17. Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to share this story. An honor, it is, to know you.

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  18. What a beautiful, tragic, victorious story! Praise the Lord for saving her.

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  19. Kori is absolutely beautiful, and her story is as well.

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  20. I want to go back and walk those halls as well... go back and spill out His love. What a beautiful and heart-breaking story. And what a story with a message to tell. Thank you so much for being open and sharing. What a princess indeed.

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  21. Oh goodness. Heartbroken doesn't even begin to cover it. I can't imagine living it. Poor, precious baby. All of them... poor precious angels. They deserve so much more than the hand life has dealt them. Thanks be to God that this one angel was able to be saved, brought home where she is loved.

    Does Kori's mama have her own blog that you can link, or did she share specifically through you? I'd like to link to her story.

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    1. She does not currently have an active blog.

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  22. This was Corrine right? Oh my heart was just filled with her for the last 2 days and was trying to decide whom to contact about her. God does answer so many questions in His way. I feared she had not made it after not hearing anything about her. She's a special little angel. I was overcome with joy seeing her pictures today. Thank you so much for sharing both news of Kori as well as, the intense sadness and time fraught with fear in EE.

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  23. Thanks for sharing this beautiful and yet heart wrenching story. It reminds me to pray.

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  24. Haunting..... Kori is amazingly beautiful, as is your heart....please if you can go back and get more-what orphanage was this again? Are there other children listed on RR from there?

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  25. Just amazing what a year of a mommy and family's love & proper medical care can do for a Princess. What a doll you have there.

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  26. So heartbroken and ashamed of my heritage. Angry. But so blessed to be reading this story. Reposting on my blog (without pictures as requested). Cannot stop crying. Thank you for sharing this.

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  27. Amazing story, thank you for sharing your heart!!

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  28. Thank you both so much, for opening doors and opening eyes. What a blessing to see Kori doing so well - but how heart-wrenching to know what she endured and what so many other children are still enduring, despite some much-needed changes at this institution. Several children are available for adoption at this place, listed as orphanage(1) on Reece's Rainbow, where these children's pictures and information can also be found. I join all of you in praying for those waiting children, as well as the adults whose lives will be lived in (1).

    Susan in Ky
    Cousin to 2 from EE,
    one of whom was almost sent to (1)...

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  29. I am heart broken by this story but I was wondering if I could post it on my blog. I follow the Pattersons who are adopting 2 boys with down syndrome and I want to bring awareness of how the precious souls of these children are treated.

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    1. You are welcome to link but please don't put the pictures on your blog. Thanks!!

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  30. Thanks for sharing. She looks wonderful!!!! Such a beautiful girl. Thanks for saving her precious life!

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  31. Thank you for sharing her story and raising much needed awareness to these precious children and how they are treated because they have special needs. It is truly heartbreaking to know that human's are treated so horrifically because they have special needs. I will share your story with my friends. Praying for all of those children and adults in that institution and other institutions around the world. God bless you all.

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  32. Thank you for sharing this story. The tears are flowing....I thought I was going to read she died there, thanking God those were not the words. Seeing her thriving today with her family is amazing. The image of the other children in their best clothes...hoping they too will be saved. Looking at my son I can't imagine having to pay someone just to treat him like a human being when he was sick. Praying God changes hearts and people realize EVERY life is precious.

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  33. Beautiful, but heartbreaking. My heart was especially impacted by your words "See these amazing spirits, these survivors, these quietly fading people?" - so glad that Kori is a blossoming little person - amazing how much she has grown since making it home.

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  34. Knowledge is power. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR STORY. May the eyes of everyone who reads your story be opened & obedient to the Lord's calling to take care of the widows and orphans. Thank you again :)

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  35. I wonder if you can post publicly what "number" orphanage she was in - so we know what other children are currently waiting and available on Reece's Rainbow.....

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  36. okay, this is why I waited all day to read this. I knew I'd be sobbing and not want to do anything else but get on my knees and cry out to God for miracles for our kids. If I didn't have my giveaway going on I would link to this tomorrow. I will link as soon as I can.

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  37. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post. So very powerfully written. This little sweetheart was very loved in our family as well and it is wonderful to see how she has blossomed in a loving home. Like my husband just said, "It makes all the difference in the world."

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  38. oh my goodness...i had to scan it first quickly as i couldnt bear the thought she had died!such a real, heartbreaking post! how can more people not be moved!

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  39. Thank u for sharing...I pray the orphans r keeping warm enough during the cold spell that's happening right now. <3

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  40. I adopted in 2005 and am still haunted by the little boy with CP tied into a make-shift high chair. But mostly my heart breaks for the beautiful little dark-haired girl with the big green eyes and the green dress who grabbed my hand. The orphanage director dismissed the child with two words: "grand mal." I think she meant that the child had epilepsy, and it broke my heart to realize that she would not even be made available for adoption. So sad. . .

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  41. Thank you so very much for posting this. I am praying God's mighty hand will move in my family's life so that we may add a precious child to our family through adoption. Will you pray with me?

    K

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  42. Funny thing, just a few hours ago I texted a dear friend the following "I don't think I could live without Gracie now!" and then I read this! Truly whether it is Gracie or Kori or the thousands of others disregarded due to a designer gene, the treasures they truly are can not be described! I seriously don't think I could survive if Gracie was no longer in my life. I love her so.........

    Thank you for sharing. You are tugging at my heart strings to get a sister with the same genes as Gracie Mae!

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  43. Julia! Wow! Sorry it took a while to catch this post. Amazing story, so heart wrenching for those of us who have seen the same-yet there are good people, like the facilitator who did not give up trying to find a way to help. I would like to link to this if I may? Thanks!

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  44. New to your blog but saw it mentioned on another blog and wanted to read about your Kori... My heart is aching, I cannot fathom how a human being can treat another human being so horribly! I mean, on a logical level I obviously know it happens, people abuse kids, people kill each other etc. But to have to PAY medical "professionals" to treat a child--or ANYONE humanely is beyond comprehension! It is an outrage that this goes on in the world!
    Your children are beautiful--it is clear to see that LOVE has worked a miracle for Kori. She looks amazingly healthy!
    I hope you will keep sharing what you know in terms of life over there for these precious children. And I pray that the Lord will show me what I can do to help...

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  45. I cried my way through this beautiful, anguished post. Thank you for sharing.

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  46. tears. she is such a beauty! I'm so glad she is safe. and I too cry for those left behind.

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  47. Thank you for sharing Kori's story..it's one that needs to be told. How precious she is and how amazing that she now has the family that she deserves. I wish each of those in that institution could have a family! How sad that they don't. so sad. My heart breaks with you.

    I had a similar experience while in South Africa. It wasn't an institution I went to, but a hospital. There were many children living at the hospital because they had been left there, no family interested in raising them, some with no family at all due to AIDS. One children's ward I remember had about 35 kids with only 2 nurses to care for them. The kids spent most of their days in a crib or on the floor. The nurses were too busy to teach them or cuddle them. Some of these kids were perfectly healthy, nothing wrong with them at all. Others were sick. Sick and alone. How sad. When a child is sick, that's when she needs a Mommy to love her, not be stuck in a bed, in pain, alone. That was many years ago, and I remember it as if it was yesterday. I wish things would change....all over the world.

    God, please take care of these children, and come back quickly. Give us wisdom to know how to help.

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  48. I can relate to this--having adopted from the Caribbean. I know the lack of care, the calculating of who should live and who should die because of scarce resources and the paying of "incentives". Bless you as you do your part...

    May we all,
    Dawn

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  49. A beautiful sharing, what a lucky girlee, and a lucky family to have her. Such a wonderful gift, adoption. I wish you every blessing and joy.

    If only people in our Western countries would recognise the wonder of these children and stop aborting them - we renounce so quickly the atitudes in EE (rightly so) but you only have to look round the corner to see the mistreatment of these precious children in our own cultures.

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  50. Thank you for sharing this! Would you mind if I used one of the before and after pictures for a Reeces Rainbow display at an orphan care conference? Let me know at jamieandcoreystone@gmail.com cause I would LOVE to display these photos to show what love can do!

    God Bless,
    Corey

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Loving words from kind people make our hearts glad!