Sean with his loving family

Since early on in our marriage my husband would occasionally say, "I think we should adopt one day." It was something he wanted to do after coming to know that we, as believers in God's Son Jesus Christ, are adopted into the family of God. I thought, "yeah, one day….after we're done having our own children." I wasn't ready at that time, nor did I understand God's love for orphans. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…(Psalm 68:5-6) God has already given us a love for children….and we proceeded to have 5 of them, all about 2 years apart. We were open to having more children, but adoption still wasn't in our immediate plans…but God was about to change that.

We met a family at church who ministered to children by being foster parents. When they were asked if they'd adopt a 2 year-old boy with severe physical and cognitive deficits, we were touched by their faith and willingness to welcome this precious and needy boy into their home in Jesus' Name. We were amazed as we saw the great change that began to take place. When they first got him, he would have seizures every few minutes and was not interactive….several months later we saw that he had grown, was free of seizures, and was giggling when his Daddy tickled him! Soon John and I began talking about adoption….this time, wondering about special needs adoption. Having therapy backgrounds (John working as a PT and I had worked as an Occupational Therapist before our children were born), we had thought of the idea before, but dismissed it, again thinking …"maybe when we're done having kids" and "there are lots of orphans without disabilities." But the love of this family really challenged us—and taught us about God's love. We further realized that all of us are "disabled" in God's sight…and He welcomes us into his family.

As we began to research about special needs adoption, a friend of ours told us about a ministry called Reeces Rainbow which is dedicated to finding forever families for special needs orphans with Down Syndrome (and other disabilities) from other countries. We learned that these children are routinely abandoned at orphanages at birth due to social stigma, poor finances, and lack of resources, and that if they are not adopted by age 4, they are routinely transferred to institutions (asylums) where they may face very poor conditions, neglect or abuse, no schooling or therapy….the disabled ones often do not survive. When we learned of their plight and saw the pictures of so many without the love of a family, our entire family was grieved and had a growing burden to help. We signed up to be prayer warriors for a few of the children, and as we earnestly prayed and researched more about adopting a child, our children begged us to adopt a 3 year-old boy with Down Syndrome named Slava.

One of our biggest obstacles was finances, as it would cost about $24,000 which was huge in our eyes! But God reminded us that He is our provider….one way was when a homeschool mom we didn't even know called us and said she was organizing a fundraiser for Slava—and she already had gotten donations for a reception hall, catered food and prizes to raffle off. After months of appointments and paperwork, we flew to the Eastern Europe in May 2009 to adopt our son, whom we named Sean. Our 3 oldest children went with us and had an amazing learning experience that they will never forget. Leaving our 2 youngest behind with my parents was extremely difficult but God gave us all grace. God took care of them and of us overseas, even putting Christians in our path to help us. He is so good! Our adventure stretched our faith and was a reminder to us of the much greater cost and sacrifice God made for our adoption.

Now that we are home, God continues to teach us more about His love through our special little boy. When we first met him, we had a twinge of fear, "what are we doing?" and "will we be able to meet his needs, and those of our other children?" But just as He called us to adopt, He is leading us each step. We quickly learned that Sean needs constant supervision as he is very active and has no fear. God showed me early on that ALL of our family can minister to his needs. Our kids are growing in compassion and love for those who need help or a little more patience. Sean came with some orphanage behaviors that can be irritating—until God reminds us of WHY he developed them…like to rock himself asleep because he didn't have a mommy to rock and sing to him, or pushing and biting, because he grew up with 20+ kids all fighting for attention, and he was one of the "least of these." (Thankfully the biting disappeared quickly). Sean is learning to be in a family, to hug and kiss , to obey Mommy and Daddy, to go to them with his boo boos. It's a joy to see his new experiences, like taking a bath (in the orphanage they'd spray them with cold water), swimming in a pool, learning to communicate with sign language, playing in a sandbox, praying and singing to God, rocking a baby doll, and holding a baby brother. We thank God that we were able to rescue Sean and give him hope, and we know that we too are so blessed by him.

While overseas, we also tried to adopt a little girl named Lacie (on Reeces Rainbow) with Down Syndrome but her paperwork was not ready yet. At the time we thought it would be very unlikely we would be able to comeback….I was pregnant so we'd have a new baby, we'd have to raise another $24,000 (versus $4,000 if her paperwork had been ready!) and we couldn't imagine going through that ordeal again. We continued to pray, and our children—who already thought of her as their sister—pleaded with us to adopt her. How precious that the only thing the older kids wanted for Christmas was a commitment to Lacie! As this verse states, we just could not forget her. "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act" ~Proverbs 24:12 My husband gave the kids the good news Christmas morning—we're adopting Lacie!

So now we are compiling our paperwork and praying for God's provisions. Our homestudy update and fingerprinting are done, and we found out that our I171H approval form USCIS is still valid….which is great news, except that we have much money to raise still. We are busy fundraising in any way we can in order to bring Lacie home. We also have been praying about adopting a second child with a disability who lives in the same orphanage and is greatly in need of a family to love him as well as therapy intervention. This will involve additional funding to be able to adopt him as well. Our children, who very much want to adopt them, have benn ding extra jobs and making beautiful beaded bracelets with simple words or phrases on them ("Lacie Bracelets") to fundraise for Lacie. We have applied to grant organizations and continue to do what we can, such as having yardsales, selling our possessions, and hope to have a parents night out and a local speaking event. We offer what we can do trusting that God can take our efforts and multiple them, for His glory.

Our family has been forever changed through adoption. We know both in our minds and hearts, as well as from experience, that orphans are precious in God's sight and all children—even those who are discarded by "society"—have enormous potential with love as well as have eternal value to Him who said to care for the "least of these". We hope to welcome more children into our home as well as be an advocate for the lives of these special children around the world who need a home and a family to love them.

You can learn more about our adoption and/or how you can help at our blog:
www.childrenpreciousinhissight.blogspot.com

Our Lacie's Bracelet fundraiser can be found on our blog, or at this address:
www.laciesbracelets.blogspot.com

 

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-The support, information and encouragement provided by the PPFL parents is not meant to take the place of medical advice by a medical professional. Any specific questions about care should be directed to a health care professional familiar with the situation.