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...

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.


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.  


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.


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. 


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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In YOU I Trust

My prayer today... Psalm 25.....  It is in God that I trust.... none other can save!

 In you, LORD my God, 
   I put my trust.
 I trust in you; 
   do not let me be put to shame, 
   nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one who hopes in you 
will ever be put to shame, 
but shame will come on those 
   who are treacherous without cause.

 Show me your ways, LORD, 
   teach me your paths. 

Guide me in your truth and teach me, 
   for you are God my Savior, 
   and my hope is in you all day long. 
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, 
   for they are from of old. 

Do not remember the sins of my youth 
   and my rebellious ways; 
according to your love remember me, 
   for you, LORD, are good. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Review

WOO HOO!!  BiblioPlan was reviewed in a CATHY DUFFY REVIEW!!

Seeing that review was a very nice way to end a very hard week!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fatherless Friday - God is On The Move

Sometimes I can be a bit of an airhead.... Okay - maybe a lot of the time.

Last week when I posted my Fatherless Friday I was feeling really sick so I claim that as my excuse.

I posted "my kids".  The ones who are often on my heart.  The ones I have been yelling about lately.

When I wrote the post, the only two children whose grant accounts I looked up were Heath because a fundraiser is going on for him and I wanted to post his numbers and Jack because I love him dearly.  I didn't pay any attention to any of the other grant accounts.

Then on Sunday - sick and barely able to lift my head off the pillow except to lose Saturday's lunch - I received an e-mail and a link to THIS PAGE...

When I finally had the energy to open the page and look I was floored.  Absolutely floored.

It is a page for ALL the RR babes who have over $2500.00 in their grant accounts.

So what you ask??? So what???

GO LOOK!!  A whole host of MY KIDS are on that page!!!!!

A little over 6 weeks ago almost all of them had but a bare pittance in their accounts.  You could barely take your family out to dinner on what some of them had.  And most of them had been listed on RR for YEARS.

Now a bunch of them have THOUSANDS of dollars.  THOUSANDS.

And where did that money come from??? YOU GUYS.  So many of you who have faithfully and lovingly and sacrificially given over and over and over again.   Gifts of love from here, there and everywhere.  Gifts without fanfare.  Gifts without fundraisers or Giveaways.  Gifts from the heart.  Gifts coupled with prayers for families to bravely step out and cross the ocean.

Rejoice with me as I SHOW you the numbers below on not just MY KIDS  but OUR KIDS.

Your Kids.

Last week he had $800.00 in his grant account.... THIS WEEK HE HAS $2161.00.


                                          BRENT                                                          SPENCER
                     In the middle of December Brent had 0.00 in his account... Now he has $3128.15.  
On December 12 Spencer had 600.00 in his account.... Now he has $7543.30

These boys were transferred to the SAME mental institute - they CAN be adopted together.  


In December he had less than $100.00 in his account... This week he has $2285.10... Does this little boy know how many people around the world are praying and longing for him to have a family???  

   Paul                                        Nikita
                                                     $2,217.50                               $4706.00
Look at these numbers!!!  These two boys were at the BOTTOM OF THE PILE!!
Paul had $150.00 on December 12 and Nikita had $325.00.
                            Danila                                     Yegor                                            Arina
                         $12,856.48                              $4045.00                                      $6680.83
Again - I am in total shock at these numbers!!  Click on Danila's link and see the updated picture of her!!  She is precious!  And Yegor!!  Arina!!   Are my eyes deceiving me???

                                                       Dimtry                                    Mark 
                                                      $3518.50                               $4190.00
We FOUGHT to get Dimtry over the wall and now look at how much has been raised.  Mark??  Sweet precious Mark??  My cup overflows.

   Robyn                                   Jin Wu                                   Sergei
                                $4739.61                               $3635.45                                 $8086.00
Precious babes.  Love in Action!

                                                  Meredith                                   HANSON
                                                  $6433.50                                     $124.00
Meredith had $620.00 in her account on December 12 after being on RR for 3 years.  Look at her numbers now!! Go Meredith Go!!  Hanson I have just added.  He is a TRUE LOST BOY.  He resides in a laying down room at Aaron's old institute so he definitely needs a lot of loving!!


NONE of OUR KIDS even came close to having that much in their accounts a mere 6 weeks ago.  I am in complete awe.  To see the love you have poured out on the Least of These....  It does a heart good.  Thank you.  

Keep praying for these babes.  They ALL NEED FAMILIES.  

We are removing the money barrier bit by bit.  So many dads and moms out there are terrified to jump off that cliff because they wonder how they can ever afford to pay for an adoption.  You are helping them see that GOD WILL PROVIDE.  You are helping pave the way.  Keep praying.  Keep giving.  Keep advocating.  I KNOW God is moving in hearts.  I know that some of these precious kids have families RIGHT NOW who are on their knees seeking the Lord's desire.   He is pounding on hearts.  I know this and I rejoice.  God is on the move.  

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, 
      before the Lord of all the earth. 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness; 
      every nation sees his glory. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tornado Aaron


He may be cute with his little winks and deep dimples...

But give this boy five minutes and a distracted and sick Mama and this is what you get...

Disarming smile or not...

He is a disaster waiting to happen!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flu Woes

Forgive my lack of posting... Mama is still sick.

I was supposed to travel to Lancaster, PA for a Christian School Convention tomorrow to share about BiblioPlan.  While there, I was also going to see two very special little girls....

Verity and Katie.  Sisters.  You may not recognize the one in the blue.  That's Katie.  Remember Katie??

The little one who was rescued out of a laying down room. 

Look at her now!!!

God is good!!

And not only was I going to get to see sweet Verity and Katie...

But I was also going to get to see another very special treasure.

My sweet Nithya.

In 2008 I had the privilege of traveling to India to help my friend Karen bring Nithya home and I was going to get to see her!!

I am so bummed.

Being sick stinks!!

It is also very very miserable....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Demolition Aaron...

Mama's sick. 

Mama's sick and Aaron is having a blast.  He is taking full advantage of Mama being completely down for the count.  The Aaron tornado has hit our house and it is going to take a month to dig us out!!  


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Schooling Aaron

He came to us as a blank slate.

When you could get him to talk at the institute, which was rare and guarded, his speaking vocabulary had deteriorated down to simple discussions about machines and airplanes.  The two things he could see and hear while sitting in the empty shed day after day.  

He knew nothing.


All he had retained from his past life was a gorgeous smile and a God-given ability to find joy in the hardest of circumstances.

But whatever he had learned at the baby house was completely lost.  Wiped clean.

For our first six months with Aaron we focused on helping him feel safe and secure.  He wasn't ready to learn about colors and numbers and letters.  His learning centered around knowing that Mama and Papa were not going to leave him.  His focus was on what he was doing each day and where we were going and when we were going to go back home.  His mind could not comprehend past the deep need for the security of always knowing where we were and if he would be with us. 

Colors. Numbers. Letters.  They were of absolutely no concern to our shell-shocked little boy. 

Though he was six and was desperately behind, school was not what Aaron needed.

We treated him as we did our boys when they very very young.  We read hundreds of books, played games, surrounded him with creative toys, showed him his colors, his numbers and counted things over and over and over again.

Aaron had no trouble playing with toys, his creativity is endless.  He has a great attention span and he loves reading books.   He was happy.

In the language area he struggled.  We saw him learn s.l.o.w.l.y.  After several months he retained the color word red.  A few months later he started remembering yellow.  But it was slow.  It was discouraging.  We wondered if he would ever learn.

He could build ever challenging puzzles, he tried to meticulously color inside the lines despite his handicaps, he could figure out any mechanical device handed to him, he could navigate all around the computer, he could tell you how to get home from any point on the map but...

It took a year for him to learn to say the numbers to 10.  A year.  Despite our counting to him every day, a thousand times a day.   It took him a year to remember the words for four colors.  Four.

He just couldn't remember the words.  He couldn't keep them in his head.  Anything that didn't involve language was easily grasped and easily understood.  But remembering those pesky words.... He was again and again defeated.  It was hard to understand why.  Our theory centered around the loss of his native language at the institute.  A year where he received nothing.  The blankness of the walls and rooms.  The total lack of anything stimulating.  He lost everything he knew.  We weren't working with a six year old child who needed to go from his language to a new language.  We were working with a six year old child who LOST his language.  We were working with a child who was equal to a newborn babe in terms of what he knew.

We had nothing with which to compare.  There aren't too many studies of children who were in Aaron's shoes.  A cognitively normal child, treated as a severely mentally disabled child from birth and then at age five exiled to a mental institute out in the middle of nowhere.  How in the world??

We knew we needed help beyond what we could give him.  Speech. Therapy.  Adaptive services.
But we wanted him home with us.  We wanted to teach him and watch him grow.  We felt torn and frustrated.

We decided to get him tested through the school system.    The dreaded IEP.  We wanted to see what they said about our little guy.

Of course they fell in love with him as soon as he walked into the building.  You can't help but love Aaron.

His tests indicated that he or course desperately needed Speech, OT and PT.  They also indicated that he was way behind mentally.  This didn't surprise us.  But they did not want to label him as mentally disabled.  Everyone around the table believed after spending time with him that despite his struggle with language, Aaron is a very bright little boy.

We were so relieved.  We did not want him labeled either.  We know that he is extremely bright.  We believe with all of our hearts that if he had been born into our family that he would be at the top of his class, not at the bottom.

After testing and after much discussion, we decided on a rather strange but workable plan.

We are going to continue to home school him.  But he will also attend public school part-time.  He will receive OT, PT, Speech and will be attending Kindergarten 2 mornings a week during their math and circle time.  He will also go out to recess with his class 2 days a week and will do art, music and library.

By doing it this way we get the best of both worlds....

If we had chosen to home school Aaron full-time he would have only received speech from the school.
If we had chosen to put him in school full time he would have been placed in 1st grade and would have been completely lost in the classroom, but he would have received all the services the school had to offer.

By home schooling him part-time, he gets to go to kindergarten instead of 1st grade which is a much better match for him.  He also gets ALL the services the school has to offer.  He also gets to continue to learn his math and reading from us.

Those who tested Aaron all agreed that this was the best workable plan because he would be getting the one-on-one help he needed from those who love him best, but we would get some help in areas where we felt weak.

This past week was Aaron's first time in the classroom.

He loved it.

The children loved him.

We think for now this is going to work.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fatherless Friday

These are some of "my kids".  The ones who break my heart on a daily basis.

Sweet Lost HEATH.

We saw him every day for six weeks.  We watched him as he was pushed in his wheelchair to the eating sheds.   Tiny little Heath sharing the wheelchair with another boy.  We would often see him sitting in the dirt, quietly rocking back and forth and playing with a dirty piece of string...  Sweet little Heath.  Quiet.  Serene.  Lost.  

PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION TO HEATH THROUGH LEAH HARDWICK'S GIVEAWAY.... Heath now has a little over $800.00 in his grant account.  

He is in the same place as Heath.  We never saw him.  Why??? Because Hanson is in a laying down room.  Hidden.  This picture is when he was at the orphanage.  This is NOT a recent picture.  

Poor little guy only has $124.00 in his grant account.  Who will love on Hanson??  


Both transferred to the SAME PLACE.  Both desperately in need of families.

How Long Oh Lord??

Oh sweet Jack.  

He now has $2055.00 in his account.  Will someone out there PLEASE be the answer to his prayers???

And the rest of my passed over babes... Oh No... I have not forgotten them... 

   Paul                                        Nikita

                            Danila                                     Yegor                                            Arina

                                                       Dimtry                                    Mark 

   Robyn                                   Jin Wu                                   Sergei


Some of my babes... Some of the ones who desperately need families....

Please pray for them.  Give.  Share about them on Facebook and in your Blogs.  We can't forget about them... these Fatherless babes... 

We just can't forget...