Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some things CAN'T wait...

Greetings my faithful blog readers! I really need to get more consistent about writing. The truth is, I just don't have much to report on our adoption at present, but I expect that to change in the coming weeks. So for now, our saga can wait. 

Today, in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, there is a nine year old boy laying in a crib. This nine year old only weighs eighteen pounds. When he was four, his birth-father beat him into a coma. This caused brain damage and likely some form of cerebral palsy. His joints began to contract. Whether his birth-mother surrendered him or he was removed from her care is unknown, but in a final insult, this physically and emotionally traumatized child was placed in one of the most notoriously squalid institutions in his country, for he is now "defective." Hidden away out of sight in a crib, a nine year old boy lays in his own waste as his joints continue to contract. He is fed a watery formula or grain based porridge through a bottle with a large nipple, while laying flat on his back. He is changed once per day...if he is lucky. I don't think it is possible for us to understand the level of hunger he feels every day. It doesn't go away. He doesn't just "get used to it."

Can we imagine?
Can you imagine intentionally swallowing air as a way to fill your stomach and, just for a short moment, ward off the constant pains of hunger? 

Can you imagine joints so contracted that you cannot unbend your legs and hips.....ever?

He doesn't cry out from hunger or pain anymore. This boy has long since learned that no one will come when he cries. And now, because of his starving, dehydrated state, this boy is incapable of crying tears.
This, my friends, is a real boy's real life. And he cannot afford to wait. He isn't just another statistic of the Eastern European orphan crisis. He is a real little boy who was abused, abandoned, and now is neglected and is starving. He will die of starvation. We Americans were appalled when Terry Schiavo was legally starved to death. She starved for 13 days with morphine to keep her pain free. This boy has been starving, feeling every bit of it....for over 4.5 years.

"This boy" is MATTHEW 

Notice the angle of Matthew's legs. He cannot unbend them. Notice his small frame. He is about the size of a 9 month old baby, but he is a 9 year old boy. Some other adoptive mothers have seen Matthew recently, and his condition is even worse than depicted in this photo. 
Make no mistake, adopting Matthew is a rescue. Matthew can't afford to wait.

This is my own 8 year old son.  Matthew should be close to this size. Matthew should be smiling. Matthew should know that regardless of his disabilities, he is loved, valued, and wanted. Matthew should go to sleep without the pains of hunger, in a clean bed not soaked in his waste. Matthew should have the opportunity to grow, smile, enjoy life, and reach his potential.
 Matthew should be loved. 

If MY son lay across the ocean, in a crib, in his own waste, starving, in pain, and I could not get to him, I would be going mad. I mean that in every sense. There is nothing I wouldn't do to rescue him. There is no humiliation or criticism I wouldn't endure to get him home. 
Matthew deserves to be loved like that.

*And Matthew IS LOVED like that.*

Please allow me to introduce you to my friend, Amanda Unroe, and her amazing family!

Amanda is a friend and truly a mentor to me. As you can see, she is no stranger to adoption. Amanda and her husband, Brent, have committed to bringing Matthew into their family. My dear friends, I can tell you that Amanda and Brent love ALL of their children...and MATTHEW is one of their children. They just can't get to him fast enough.

I KNOW that Amanda and Brent have what it takes to help Matthew heal. I know it because I've sat in their home. I have seen her dedication to each child's needs. I have seen 18 beautiful children who know they are loved by their parents and by God. 18 children who are polite and kind and welcomed my four as friends without skipping a beat. 
Last summer, the Unroes brought home 5 children with Down Syndrome. The youngest, 
Keith, was in the same institution as Matthew is now. 

No, this is not a baby....Keith is 5 years old and weighs about 10 pounds in this picture.

Here is a side by side of Keith before, and Keith after one month at home.

Keith home 4 months. He made this face whenever the people wearing scrubs LEFT the room at the dentist. 
The orphanage workers wore scrubs.

 Keith at 5 months home, discovering the classic children's toy....a cardboard box.

Keith is a testament to what love, family, medical care and nutrition can do for a child. But it is easy to look at him now and see a healthy 1 one year old. But remember, Keith is 5 years old. Look at what life in that place took from him. Look at what he's missed.

This is my husband holding our very petite 2 year old daughter, along with Keith.  Children with Down Syndrome are typically shorter than "typical" children, but not this much shorter.

 My husband said they felt pretty similar in weight, so in 5 months home, sweet Keith went from about 10 pounds to about 25 pounds...and began to crawl, play, and even stand. Keith continues to make astounding improvements, but the cold reality remains. He never should have had to exist the way he did for the first five years of his life. He may look like a "typical" 1 year old, and he may function at about that level now, but he is FIVE. He should be in kindergarten. LOOK at what that place took from him. His Down Syndrome didn't do that. Ignorance and  indifference did that. 

If anyone can help Matthew reach his potential, it is Amanda and Brent. They have so much love in their hearts and home that it would be impossible not to thrive there. They were not intending to adopt again so soon, but after seeing the conditions at Keith's orphanage, they knew they would be back. They could not forget the children left there. 

Amanda often speaks of how she tried to reason with God that now was just not the time for them to adopt again....and how He impressed upon her very strongly that she needed to go back immediately. She did not know then just what condition her little Matthew was in, but God did, and when He said, "Go." That is what she did. But she needs help. For Matthew's sake, she needs to have her process expedited. As a fellow adoptive mom in process, I can attest to the waiting and the fundraising being agonizing, but this is different. Amanda's sweet new son is hurting and starving to death while she is chasing papers and dollars to get him home. She feels guilty every time she has plenty to eat because she knows he doesn't receive enough nourishment to even dull the pain of hunger and his body is consuming itself. She knows that if her process takes too long, her son will likely die, and it will be a slow, painful death. She has all the resources here that he needs, but she needs to get the funds for the dossier NOW. She has been selling everything that isn't nailed down since last fall to raise these funds. She continues forward in faith each day, but she is in a constant state of worry and concern for the child she loves but cannot see, touch, comfort or feed.
I am asking all of my readers to please share Matthew's situation. Amanda is an experienced mom of special needs children. She will be a godsend to sweet Matthew. 

The Unroes need $5,000 as soon as possible to be able to send in their dossier. 
There are a few ways in which you can help them raise this money and help rescue Matthew.

 Amanda is still having an auction at 

Now through February, you can support the Unroes by putting their name in the checkout at Hannah James online store. 45% of your purchase will go to their dossier fees.
* Be sure to put "Unroe" in the box at check out.

You may also shop the lovely jewelry at Be A Voice
About 75% of your purchase will benefit the Unroes' adoption.
 *Again, please put "Unroe" in the box at the check out.

Their Chip In is located HERE on their blog and allows the money to be used immediately for the dossier fees. 

Three More For The Unroes  is a Facebook page which you can "Like" and follow to keep up to date on the family's fundraising efforts.

Please shop, donate, and share this need. Matthew does NOT have to become another sad orphan statistic. 
Help rescue him.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An Amazing Endeavor...

Hello blog followers! I would like to share with you a wonderful project that we are blessed to be a part of. It is called Forty Days to Forever. Some passionate adoption advocates have spent the last several months working on a fundraising project for the season of Lent.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking, "Michelle, you're not Catholic!" No, I am not, but the Lenten season is a time when I try extra hard to turn my thoughts toward Christ and remember His ministry. It is a time of reflection and awe as I think of the Savior's mortal ministry and his boundless charity. It is a time where I refocus my efforts to live as He lived and to love as He loved while on this earth. I know that goal is one I will never attain, yet I will strive for it as an offering to the One who bore all things for me. The season of Lent and Easter are not as busy or as commercialized as Christmas has become (or maybe I just tune those things out easier) and I am better able to be introspective. And so I am honored to have our family included in the Forty Days to Forever during Lent and I know it will make the season all the more holy and special for me.

O.k. but what is it? Well, it's part fundraising, part advocacy, part prayer ministry, part humanitarian aid, and part Giveaway!  You can click HERE or on the logo at right to visit the Forty Days to Forever site. Please read the two "Save a Life" posts on the front page and take some time to "meet" the families and children and see if perhaps, you would like to join us. During the entire Lenten season, there is a goal to have at least one person praying from 6am to 10pm Eastern for the children and families and the cause of orphans. You can help by just signing up for one 15 minute interval of prayer, either one time, or recurring throughout the season. Prayer works. Next, we have the fundraising part. Each day throughout Lent, one family or waiting child will be featured and donations will be taken for them. And EACH DAY there will be a giveaway prize! That's forty separate prizes....exciting! During the endeavor, the goal is to raise $400 per family/waiting child. Part of the money raised each day will go to a little girl named Lina who is in dire condition, languishing and starving to death after being moved from the hospital to an orphanage. Her pictures will break your heart.

Is it a lofty endeavor? Yes! But it is not impossible, especially with the wonderful prayer warriors and advocates helping to spread the word.

I am very excited to say that the day our family and Carolina will be featured is.....February 14th! Valentine's Day! I feel this is very appropriate for us this year as part of our hearts, full of so much love, are across the ocean with our little girl.

I hope you will all check out the Forty Days to Forever project and follow along with us. If any of you find yourselves wishing to participate in any way, I pray you will do so. Together, we will help 19 children be united with their forever families and 21 children increase their grants...and 1 very special, very sick little girl. Please, follow, participate, pray and SHARE! There's room for everyone on this journey.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Road...

The road to adoption is long and rough. It is filled with unexpected potholes. Sometimes the road to adoption may be slick, causing the traveler to have to work hard to keep calm and stay on course. Other times, the road is winding and obstructed by all sorts of obstacles that require careful maneuvering. Sometimes, the road is even closed. Sometimes it reopens and other times, that closure is permanent. At no time is the road ever easy. 

Those who decide to venture down this road must think long and hard about whether or not it is the road for them. They've heard the stories. People love to tell stories of those who have turned back or crashed on the road. They know how tough it is. Many people think about taking the road, but ultimately, they decide it is not the route for them. Then there are those who prayerfully decide to take a "Road Trip."

Only this isn't an ordinary trip....

In addition to all the obstacles and delicate situations they must maneuver through, they have one final challenge. Their Road Trip will be broadcast much like a reality TV show and the audience can make comments in real time. The drivers are blasted with well-meaning "advice" during the most trying obstacles. They can try to tune it out, but the radio is stuck in the "on" position. The most they can do is change the channel and hope for the best. The audience doesn't have a better vantage point. In fact, they are only able to see a small bit of the road, yet, their human nature gets the better of them and they think they know The Road better than the drivers. This is anything but a morale boost. It's usually at times like these that the people on The Road, stop to recharge, regroup and refocus. The Road has taken its toll. Where the drivers may have thought they had supportive fans, they find there is instead doubt, fear, and even wishes for failure. These are the "fans" who watch hoping to see a wreck. And so The Road becomes a very lonely, scary place surrounded by a host of onlookers. The drivers of the coups and the sedans and yes, even the minivans are tired and they are discouraged. They creep along the best they can, ever paranoid of the next turn in the road, for they cannot see what lies ahead. 

And just when it seems this is just too scary with too many unknowns.....

The ground shakes as a loud rumble is heard along the road. From out of nowhere come the relief caravans. They come from all over, driving giant vans. They plow through the obstacles without slowing down and come to the aid of the struggling drivers.
"Come on!" they say, "Follow us, we know the way!"
They help the wearied drivers get their cars moving again, and place them in the center of the convoy, the most protected spot. And just as quickly as they appeared, they are off again. The front-runners navigating the trail and passing radio instructions to the smaller vehicles, "This part is tricky, watch how I do it. But don't be scared, you'll make it through." 
The big vans in the back know this road well. They keep those who are struggling from being left behind. They continually patch-up and fix whatever parts break down. They have a seemingly unlimited supply of parts and technical know how. 

Slowly, but surely, the new drivers make their way down The Road. Sometimes needing assistance from the drivers in the rear, and sometimes racing to catch up with the big vans in the front. The finish line must be coming up soon....no...that was just a little smooth spot in the road. More maneuvering. More help from the vans in the rear.

And then.....

One day it's there! The finish line is there! The new drivers rush to it, unable to believe they have finally made it. There are cheers from all over the world. The drivers of the big, fast-moving vans welcome the new drivers to the noble ranks of those who have stayed the course and completed "The Road." The big vans from the rear wave goodbye as they head back to the beginning to help another batch of new drivers who are in over their heads. 

And it's then that the new travelers of The Road see for themselves what awaits at the end of this long, tiring journey. It is worth every hardship. It is worth every jeer from the crowd. And from that moment on, they are changed. They can never look at The Road or those who are traveling it the same way again. They feel compelled to help.

And so....

They go back to the beginning. Only now, they have big vans of their own. They spot more little vehicles being patched up, some stuck along The Road.  Some decide to charge back down The Road full speed ahead with their new, powerful wheels, while others choose to become the rear support. And off they go again, to help the new drivers. And this time, the naysayers' scoffs fall on deaf ears. The big white vans come with signal jamming technology. For now they have seen the end of The Road and nothing can ever change that. No amount of scoffing or judgement could make them regret the journey or the prize. They are now the veterans of The Road. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Homestudy visit..

*I'd like to remind everyone of our auction on Facebook that ends at 7pm EST on Sunday, January 20th. We are always looking for more fundraising ideas, so feel free to post any ideas or contact me. And please, share! This is our first adoption so it's all new to us. We are counting on our advocates and prayer warriors to help spread our cause.*

I have never done a home study before, so when I read through all the paperwork, it was a bit intimidating. When it's all written out on those very official forms, it seems incredibly daunting. Some of my readers may remember that hubby and I met on active duty in the military. The terms, "Fire Inspection" and "Home safety audit" brought to mind the days of meticulously organized sock drawers and crisply made bunks. The goal of a military inspection is to look for the smallest details and the person conducting the inspection usually takes pride in finding some obscure thing out of place. Despite the many assurances from my friends in the adoption community that the home study was nothing to worry over, I began stressing as the date approached. We not only cleaned as usual, but we reorganized most of the house. All with me worrying whether it was going to be acceptable and whether our social worker would feel we had enough space. 
Finally, right at noon, our social worker arrived. I was just finishing putting lunch on the table for the kids. As it was Spaghetti O's, little E was stripped down to a diaper for easy clean up. The social worker asked if the kids knew why I was there and I said they did. 
R piped up with, "So we can adopt Carolina." 
"What do you think of that idea?" asked the social worker.
"I think it's great, " replied Ryan. 
At this point the other children began adding their emphatic agreements. M was hoping the social worker was actually bringing her. She is almost beside herself with excitement for her new sister. 

While the kids ate lunch, the social worker, hubby and I sat in the living room and discussed our plans, our documents, and went over our autobiographies. She felt we had done an excellent job of providing information on our backgrounds and our motivations for adopting. We discussed the types of disabilities that we are open to and how we could accommodate those. We discussed what specialists we intended to use and where they are located. We discussed interventions that are available through the local school and other places. We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of our marriage and how we deal with conflicts between us. She asked us about how we discipline our children and we explained our system. Following all of that, our social worker took a tour of our home and again ensured we had a mounted fire extinguisher and smoke detectors and an evacuation plan. We then looked at the bedrooms. This part of the process took only a few minutes and it was done. 

I had dreaded this part of the process since before we ever committed. I feared someone coming in and critiquing my home, but in reality, it was actually an enjoyable experience. Yes, we cleaned like crazy, but no more so than if we were having a Super Bowl Party at our home. Our social worker had no problems with approving us to adopt one child, and in fact, did not blink an eye about approving us for two. Now, don't get too excited here, we have not actually selected a second child to adopt and it may not even be possible due to her region, but it was nice to hear nonetheless. 

So there you have it my loyal blog followers. A home visit in a nutshell. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Auction Time!

Good Evening blog followers! I would like to invite you all to our Facebook page "Caring for Carolina." We are in the midst of our first auction to help us raise the funds we need to travel. Come on over and check us out HERE 

Whether you can bid or not, we would appreciate it if you would share our page. Many shares add up quickly. As always, we are grateful and humbled for all the encouragement and concern for our family.