Monday, January 31, 2011

$1,000 DONATION FOR PETER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Friends,

I am crying and laughing and calling my husband at work as I'm typing this--

just got this comment from Sara on my last post.....

Thank you so much for advocating for these kids. I'm not even waiting for the give away. I clicked right over to Reece's Rainbow and donated to Peter. Now someone go get him!

And Peter's totals just went up to $3,429 !!!!!!!

I asked God today for a sign...a sign that He is in this.

Sara- whoever you are- THANK YOU FOR THAT ANSWERED PRAYER!!


Okay, our giveaway hasn't even started- and I am already seeing miracles left and right. I can't even tell you the phone calls and emails I got today- new items being donated, incredible people who are blogging for this, our own page about this giveaway on the Reece's Rainbow site, my trusty sidekick Michelle Z helping me figure all this out, Lisa from RR getting the perfect gadget thingy set up on my sidebar, so people can donate to these kids by just clicking their button on the side...and now THIS!!!

I am not one of these people who walks around with a bucket-load of faith in my hand at all times. Truthfully, I'm a minnow in the big blogging pond. I am not eloquent, not educated, I don't have much when it comes to ability...I'm a little stay-at-home mama of ten who just loves the Lord with all my heart, and loves these kids. But I am telling you- GOD is getting involved here!!!

Andrea Roberts posted this yesterday on the Reece's Rainbow online forum...

God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability.

Those words are so true- we just need hearts open to God, and He can use us, whoever we are.


Can't wait to see what God is going to do!!!

PURE LOVE GIVEAWAY STARTS TOMORROW- SPREAD THE WORD!!!!!!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Interview with Adeye Salem/ Part Two...and a Whisper...

Dear Friends,

If you missed Part One of my interview with Adeye Salem, please take the time to go back and read it. I was so moved by her words, even though I already knew her story. Her life is like a wonderful book that you return to again and again to read...and each time you find something new. I am so blessed that she took the time to answer all my questions- I know how busy life with a bunch of rugrats can be!

This is Part two....and as a special treat Adeye put her husband on the spot to answer some questions! I had fun getting photos from Adeye for this one...I didn't know she and Anthony had quite the sensational romance brewing before they got married! If you've never been to her blog NoGreaterJoyMom...make sure you scroll all the way back to read about this world famous pair;)


Part Two


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Some might look at the orphan crisis in the world and say the need is too great, and where would we start to help? What would you say to that... and what would you say to those who do not have a spouse who is ready to adopt right now?

I’m going to let my dear husband Anthony answer this question. For the longest time he was not ready to add any more children to our family. God had to do a deep work in his heart.

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From Anthony:

Hmmm, need too great? Don’t know where to start? How about one place at a time. Start by taking each other’s hands and crying out to God. Say yes to Him, that you are available to rescue any child or children He gives you. But then you must reach an agreement about what KIND of child. Not only race, but with what level of special needs if any. Or you can trade it all in for what’s behind Door Number 2—Tell God you don’t care what the child’s circumstances are, you are YES and AMEN. Then get online and see who He presents to you. Or speak with your agency about what you two agreed to do.

As for a spouse who’s not ready, I always say, “Happy wife, happy life.” Just kidding.

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Adeye’s right. It didn’t come right away with me. I wasn’t so much concerned about loving a child that didn’t come from my loins, so to speak. I was looking at the financial issue and the “crazy house” factor, the latter being, could I tolerate a continuous din of children sounds, seeing as I was a bachelor for the first 39 years of my life?


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In all earnestness, I prayed. And I prayed. And I prayed. Why was God silent on this? Wouldn’t He speak to ME, the magnanimous HEAD OF THE HOUSEHOLD?! But because He was silent toward me didn’t mean He wasn’t giving an answer…through my wife. I had to remember that God often speaks to women when men are too dense to hear straight. Particularly when I’m trying to “save my own life.” For example, I now know experientially how God can shatter my fears of not being a good provider for my family by using my wife to assure me that if we jump off the deep end for Jesus, then we’ll know how HE provides for our family. He’s the ultimate Provider, not me.

Similarly, I learned how God gave man a helpmate who, lo and behold, also hears from Him. Otherwise, how do they help us, men? By cleaning the house and changing diapers? If that’s the case, I wouldn’t have a wife but a live-in maid. And that’s where Abraham got into trouble!


God did an amazing, gracious thing in my heart. Once I said yes to adoption, he gave me “ownership” of the decision. In other words, through my step of obedience, he placed in me a surety that the children we were adopting were indeed Salems. I’ll always remember our first adoption, Hannah-Claire. We got a referral picture of her from our agency and I ho-hummed it. I thought, let me put it on the fridge so that God can perhaps give me a Damascus Road experience when I pass by it. So even after I said yes to adoption, with THIS girl, I was humming and hawing.


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Three days later, my wife discouragingly said, “Well, it’s obvious that you’re not into this girl, so I’m going to call the agency and tell them no.” At that moment, the Spirit of God rose up in me and said very incredulously, “Don’t you dare tell them no! How can you give away ‘our daughter’ like that?!” Wow, did I really say that? Yes. And life has never been the same.


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Other than adoption, what is the best thing people can do to help, practically speaking?

There are many, many things you can do besides actually adopt.

I think that the most important thing you can do is help other families who are in the process of bringing a child home. Many of you know that adoption costs money—a whole lot of money. For most, having $30,000 lying in the bank is just not an option. Many families embark on the adoption journey in faith—trusting God to provide every dollar they need. They work hard to raise funds. From someone who has been there, done that, it is not the easiest thing to do. It can become tiring. It can even be disheartening. Some days you wonder how in the world you are ever going to have the amount that you require.

The greatest blessing for adopting families is when the body of Christ comes alongside them in their fundraising efforts. Help them in any way possible. Host a fundraiser for them. It could be a dinner, or an online auction, or anything else. Sow financially into their adoption too. God expects us to be generous in our giving. Sowing seed into an adoption is so rewarding because it enables us to play a part in saving a child’s life. Some may think that a $20 gift may be so small in comparison to what is required for an adoption. You know, it ALL adds up. Every small amount donated adds up so quickly. I cannot tell you how many ten-dollar givers we had with our four adoptions. The Lord multiplied that seed and before we knew it, we had everything we needed to bring our children home. There is such incredible blessing in sowing financially into a family’s adoption.


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Adopting families also need physical assistance. Make a meal for a family who has just gotten home with their child. Offer to take care of their children as they adjust to their new normal. Pray for them. Call them to offer help. Send a note of encouragement. Just be there for them in any way you can think of. I can promise you that they will so appreciate it.

Other than adoption, there are so many amazing ways to practically DO something to make a difference in the lives of the estimated 147 million orphans in the world. Sponsor a child through one of many programs available. Go on a short- or long-term mission where you can physically give of your time and efforts to make a child’s life better. Advocate on your social networks for children who are waiting, just as Patti has done. It all helps.

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It’s true—the orphan crisis sure can seem overwhelming once you start learning about the plight of the fatherless. But I’m convinced that if all Christians just did something to help, no matter how big or small, we sure would have a major impact on the way things currently are. We’re the Christians, the ones the Lord has commanded to care for orphans. It’s OUR problem, not the world’s. Jesus never told the people in the world to go out and care for the fatherless. No, He told US, His beautiful Bride, to do it.

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I was so moved by your post, "I Left My Heart There." Is it possible to experience joy every day in spite of what you have seen? Are you haunted by the memories of those children you had to leave behind, and how do you deal with those memories?

Oh my. Yes, sweet little faces I left behind are never far from my thoughts. Ever. They do absolutely haunt me. At the same time, I never want to forget all that I have seen. It’s their faces that keep me determined to do everything I possibly can to create an awareness. I lie awake at night wondering how I can make a difference, what can I do?

Proverbs 24:12 has become so very real to me over the years: "Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act."

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My eyes have definitely been opened to a desperate need that I never knew existed. And now it is my responsibility to act and DO something. I don’t know how that will end up looking in the future, I only know that I will try as best I can to be a voice for the fatherless until the day that Jesus takes me home.

As for every day life, yes, it is possible to experience joy every day. All I need to do is look at our four beautiful little girls who have been rescued from a life of desperation. They make me realize time and time again that every late night I spend posting on a blog, every email about a waiting child, every note I send to encourage an adopting family, every question I answer about how to adopt a child…it is all so very worth it. Every child rescued is such a beautiful thing—another life snatched from darkness and brought into HIS glorious light.


One of the things I love about your blog is that you maintain such a spirit of hope, and at the same time you are able to write so passionately and convictingly about the desperate need of orphans. I love that I can feel the burden that you articulate so clearly, and yet come away feeling like there is such great hope in spite of the need. I have a feeling that "in real life" I would get that from you as well. What is your "governing philosophy" so to speak? :)

You are too kind, Patti. I appreciate your very kind words.

You know, I definitely do have days when I feel so desperate. Days when I wonder how on earth we are ever going to make some kind of difference in the way things are with the world’s orphans. It is so easy to fall into despair and to have a feeling of hopelessness.
On days like these I think about the time when Jesus went to the pool called Bethesda in Jerusalem. Many, many disabled people lay there. The Bible calls then “a great number” (kind of like the number of orphans in the world). Jesus went in and singled out one man to be healed. Just one. He did not look at the overwhelming problem, but went to the ONE, and what a difference He made in the life of that one man!

I find such hope in that story. Just ONE.


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One child at a time…that’s what can make the world of difference and the difference in a child’s world. If every person burdened to do something about orphans just tried to make a difference just one child at a time, what a glorious result we could have!


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Thank you so much, Adeye...I am honored to call you a friend.

You know, as I was reading this and getting ready to post, it hit me...when God really started to move on my heart to help orphans, I wrote this post called "Just One."

I had no idea what God was going to do..I had no thought of doing a giveaway..I just committed my heart to helping JUST ONE.

And here we are a less than two months later, and with God's help and a whole host of online friends, we are seeing two little girls rescued. And we are determined to help one little boy experience the same.

And yes- I said two little girls.

I know we have all been hopeful for Olga and were heartbroken when several families had to withdraw their applications. As heartbreaking as that was, there is still hope..and there are GOOD things to come. I am whispering a tentative hallelujah here (to coin a Courtney phrase once again;)) at what is to be announced very soon.


Please, please, please...do not miss this: February 1st we are kicking off a HUGE giveaway to help Peter, Olga and Kareen. Sam and I have been praying all month for God's favor and miracle provision in this- we are sunk without His help. We have had so many people donate the most incredible things...I am humbled to be a small part of this.

I wanted so desperately to save a child on Reece's Rainbow myself. The fact that I have ten kids probably speaks volumes about my heart's desire- I adore children. Because of several factors, adoption is not an option for us at this point in our lives. Maybe you're reading this and you're in the same position. Maybe you would love to adopt, but for whatever reason you just can't do that right now.

I hope Adeye's words inspired you like they did me- we can still help. In a very meaningful and powerful way, our giving and blogging and praying and raising awareness is helping to save these children.

Friends, my heart is so heavy for Peter. I emailed Andrea Roberts at Reece's Rainbow again today to ask if anyone has inquired about this little boy...who has so very little hope right now. I'm going to go into more detail on Tuesday, but this giveaway is going to help decide- quite literally- whether Peter will live or die. Maybe that sounds dramatic. It is true nonetheless.

When I asked Andrea for suggestions ...what I could do to help save Peter...her response cut me to the heart.


I wish I had a suggestion about Peter....I have been advocating for him for YEARS. Nothing short of a full grant is going to do much for him, I'm afraid.

So you know what I determined in my heart?

We're going to get Peter a full grant.

And yes, I'm shaking a little in my shoes as I type those words. I know how crazy that sounds. A full grant is $20,000. That's a big pile of money.

But guess what? I serve a big God.

I'm going to go out on a limb here.

I truly believe God can do this for Peter. There are so many who have a heart to help and who truly see the desperate need of these orphans.

The sitemeter stats for Lily's blog this week were 3,236 hits. We're going to do our giveaway for ten days. If every person who visits this blog gives just $10...that would mean Peter's life. And substantial help for the Cox family who is adopting Kareen ...and more help for Olga's family.

I am praying God multiplies...finances, readers, blog hits, you name it.

I'm asking ..pleading... for your help with this fundraiser. I'm aiming high, because that's what God put on my heart. I don't think it's an accident that Adeye graciously agreed to do this interview with me. I think God wanted to use her to show us what could be done. Julia's life was saved- through Adeye's giveaway she saw $20,000 raised in less than five days.

If you are committed to helping, giving, praying, blogging, whatever..could you leave a little comment here telling me so?

Thank you so much, ahead of time.

Love,
Patti

Worthy of Life

Dear Friends,

As many of you read here, I posted the other day about an article I read called "Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?" One man left a comment on that article that cut me to the heart. (You can read his comment in my original post.) I originally intended to offer a lengthy rebuttal to "Modern Sound", in defense of my Lily, and all children and adults who arrived in life guilty of nothing but an extra chromosome.



I put out a request to friends on BabyCenter and Facebook and blogland for photos...and as these amazing pictures began to flood my inbox, I realized there was not much I could say that would speak as eloquently or as profoundly as the faces of our beautiful children.



So "Modern Sound"...if you're reading, know this....



Our children are not suffering.



Our children are not a burden.



Our children are worthy of life and worthy of our love, and we are forever thankful for the incredible joy we know every single day....because of them.



They say a picture speaks a thousand words...



Here's a hundred thousand for you.


***scroll down to pause my music playlist & if you cannot view the video player, refresh the page **


Amazing

Amazing
by Janelle

The morning cold and raining,
dark before the dawn could come
How long in twilight waiting
longing for the rising sun

You came like crashing thunder
breaking through these walls of stone
You came with wide eyed wonder
into all this great unknown


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Hush now don't you be afraid
I promise you I'll always stay
I'll never be that far away
I'm right here with you

You're so amazing you shine like the stars
You're so amazing the beauty you are
You came blazing right into my heart
You're so amazing you are...
You are

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You came from heaven shining
Breath of God still fresh on you
The beating heart inside me
Crumbled at this one so new

No matter where, how far you wander
For a thousand years or longer
I will always be there for you
Right here with you

You're so amazing you shine like the stars
You're so amazing the beauty you are
You came blazing right into my heart
You're so amazing...

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I hope your tears are few and fast
I hope your dreams come true at last
I hope you find love that goes on and on and on and on and on
I hope you wish on every star
I hope you never fall too far
I hope this world can see how wonderful you are

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You're so amazing you shine like the stars
You're so amazing the beauty you are
You came blazing right into my heart
You're so amazing you are...
You are

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Interview with Adeye Salem

Dear Friends,

Last month was an amazing month for me. I had been praying for a way to help the children on Reece's Rainbow for awhile. I was particularly burdened for one child, Olga, after seeing her picture and reading about her on my friend Stephanie's blog.

One night, as my husband was drafting a letter to family and friends, asking them to consider praying for and giving to Olga, I was searching the internet for ideas on how to help these children. As I've said before, we are not in the position to adopt for a number of reasons. But both Sam and I felt that there was still something we could do for these helpless children.

What I stumbled upon was an amazing blog..about a woman who has a heart for orphans and a passion for God. Her post, The Most Important Post I Have Ever Written, sparked a fire in my heart and a desire to do something radical to save Olga. I don't even think we've begun to see the fruit of what her post inspired in my heart and in the hearts of so many others.

I have since seen Adeye, the blog author, raise awareness for so many other children, and she continues to inspire me to do the same. I asked Adeye to do an interview with me, because her story is amazing, and I know you will be as moved by it as I am. If you haven't had the privilege of doing so already, please meet....



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I am a South African living in the USA. Blessed daughter of the King of Kings, wife to the most amazing man in the world and mommy to seven sharp arrows. Three sons the good old fashioned way, two special needs princesses from China, and our most recent adoptions--two angelic treasures with Down syndrome from the Ukraine. We're a crazy about Jesus, learning daily about total surrender, inner city dwelling, passionate about adoption, home schooling family.






1) How many children do you have and what are their ages ?

We have been blessed with seven children--three biological boys and four adopted daughters: Connor (11), Kellan (10), Haven (10), Hannah-Claire (8), Cade (6), Hailee (5) and Harper (3).

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2) How did you and your husband decide to adopt the first time? What made you decide to do it again?

We were missionaries in Australia when I read an article in a magazine about the plight of Chinese girls. I was horrified to learn about the “one-child policy” in that country and how so many baby girls got abandoned simply because families desperately needed their one and only child to be a son. God used that article to break my heart in two. Living in Australia, it was not possible to adopt from China. Still, the seed was planted in my heart.

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About two years later the Lord moved our little family (our only children were Connor and Kellan at the time) to America. I was pregnant with our third child. After Cade was born, and we thought our family was complete, God began to speak loud and clear about adoption—something we had never considered before. He was very specific with us. We felt led to look into a special-needs adoption of an older child. As we began to research adoption, a whole new world opened up before our eyes—the world of the reality of the fatherless.

And so the journey began. One we never saw coming our way.

We traveled to China in 2006 to bring our beautiful Hannah-Claire home. While we were there we got to visit an orphanage run by Americans which was full to overflowing with children with various special needs. Anthony and I cried like babies throughout the entire visit. God used it to break our hearts for the things that break His. We left that day knowing that something in us had changed—and our lives would never be the same again.

We returned from China and made a promise to the Lord that our hearts and our home would always remain open to the children He would add to our family.

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3) What can you tell us about raising multiple children with special needs? How difficult is it day to day? How has adopting children with special needs affected your other children?

You know, it’s a crazy thing. God has done such a huge work in my heart over the years. I was definitely one of those mamas who was pretty nervous during my pregnancies—constantly wondering if my babies would be born “healthy” and “normal.” I so clearly remember asking Anthony to count fingers and toes the minute they made their entrance into the world. “As long as they are healthy, that is all that matters,” I used to tell friends when they asked me about my babies in the womb. I never thought that I would ever have what it takes to parent a child who struggles in life.

Little did I know the journey the Lord would take us on years later.

Special needs adoption has been nothing but a joy and an absolute delight for me and my family. I cannot even begin to tell you how incredible it has been as we have embraced the children the Lord has given us. God has changed us from the inside out. He has put His heart and his passion for the orphan inside of us…and we will never be the same again.

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I believe with all my heart that God equips us to fulfill the things He calls us to do in this life. If “special needs” is part of the plan, He gives us everything we need to do it well with excellence.

Parenting our four children with special needs has been an incredible blessing. We have all learned along the way. Most of all we have learned to refuse to see disability and to see the ABILITY that is within every child.

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For our own children, adopting these sweet girls has honestly been the best thing that we could ever have done for them. Seriously! They are learning to serve, to love, to think about others before themselves, to be generous, to give sacrificially, to be patient at all times (even when they don’t feel like it) and to love with all their hearts. It’s been good in every way for them. The positives far outweigh any negatives. Our children learn every day that people matter and that being a servant of the Lord begins right here in our home.

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We homeschool all of our children, so our home is always busy on any given day. Our littlest girls are never without arms to hold them and kids to play with them. It has worked well for our family. Sure, we do have our challenging moments, but they really are few and far between. We simply would not have life any other way.

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4) Your post, "The Most Important Post I Have Ever Written" is what inspired me to do a giveaway in December. Tell us about that post ...and what happened as a result.

That was such a hard post to write. When I returned home with Hailee and Harper my heart ached for the children that I left behind. Particularly the children in Hailee’s room. It was such a different adoption to our Chinese adoptions—where you don’t frequent your children’s orphanage. In Easter Europe I spent nearly seven weeks visiting my daughters every single day. I got to know the kids there. They crept into my heart.

Learning all that I did, I just had to get photos of the children in the room known as a “laying room” where Hailee was. I felt strongly that I would come home and try to advocate for them. There were three children in that room who I wanted to see come home. Two others were not adoptable.

In July last year I posted about the conditions in the “laying room.” Without going into too much detail (because I would never want to jeopardize anyone else’s adoption by publicly stating too much), I shared about the kids I left behind who could still be placed in homes. Praise the Lord—one family stepped forward to adopt the two little boys.

But. There was another little love whom I knew would be extremely hard to place in a home.

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“Yulia” was diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder known as “Cockayne Syndrome.” Essentially it is a condition where she is aging very prematurely. Most children do not live beyond their seventh birthday. I lay awake for weeks wondering who in the world would ever go for Yulia. I tried so hard to tell myself that it would never work, and I would be wasting my time advocating for her. I gave God every pathetic reason in the book as to why it was just a bad idea…and I should just forget about the whole idea of finding a family for her.

But the Lord would not let me off the hook that easily. One day it came to me. I needed to host a fundraiser on my blog. Yulia needed a fantastic grant. That would help a family get to her sooner. In faith, we bought an iPad and I poured out my heart in a blog post…and then hit “publish” before I could chicken out.

Oh my goodness, the Lord blew me away. In less than five days we had raised over $20,000 for Yulia’s adoption. The money was coming in so fast at the end that I ended up rushing to take down the little fundraiser widget so that too much money would not come in. Crazy. Due to the way the funds were going to be disbursed to the family the maximum amount could be $20,000. I just knew that I knew at that moment that a family would come forward.

Sure enough, it was not long before I got a call from a friend of a friend. They wanted Yulia! They didn’t care what was “wrong” with her—they only knew that she was their daughter and that they needed to get to her as soon as possible, given her illness.

I have since met Julia’s family. They live just one hour from us. Since they began their paperwork, they have added another little boy to their adoption. And, their good friends whom we have met, are also adopting two little boys from the same orphanage.

God has been so good. Our daughters’ orphanage is being emptied of its special-needs children. We rejoice!


4) You could literally write a book on what you saw at Hailee and Harper’s orphanage. Can you please share from your heart here about what life is like for the children in that orphanage and others like it?


There truly are no words to describe it. My eyes were opened to a world I never knew existed.

While in Eastern Europe adopting our daughters, I ran into obstacle after obstacle. What is usually a fairly easy and uncomplicated process turned into so much more in my case. There really are no guarantees with adoption. You have to go into it being prepared for anything, and know that God is working through those obstacles on your behalf!

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I can truly look back now and see the hand of God at work. I now know that my extended time in country was all part of His plan and purpose for my life. Spending many days in the orphanage gave me so much time to SEE with my own eyes the reality that so many orphans live with day in and day out. I knew God had used the experience to change me forever—and that I would try as best I could to be a voice for those I left behind for the rest of my life.

It seems that there is some point in an orphan’s life where they get separated into different rooms. “Healthy” children will be grouped together with a few of the higher functioning children who have special needs. Our Harper was in a room with a few typically developing children, even though she has Down syndrome. Hailee, on the other hand, was not so fortunate. There is one room in every orphanage which I believe Jesus would call the room for the “least of these.” The room He must weep over. The dreaded “laying room.”

This is the place where those who struggle the most in life are sent. It is the place for children with profound needs—those who are written off as being useless and completely worthless. There are no words to describe the lonely existence these children live day in and day out. The only touch they know is when they are taken out to be fed and and only sometimes when they’re changed. They are never taken out of the room. Ever. Not even for a walk. Those small four walls are all they know. They’re all that our little Hailee knew.



Our Hailee weighed a measly 15 pounds on her fifth birthday. She was unable to chew any solid food and the only means to get nutrition into her was through a bottle. And like the other children in the room, Hailee was continually drugged. Children are given an adult tranquilizing drug to ensure that they literally sleep their lives away. After all, a sleeping child is an easy child.

The laying room is full of little ones and not-so-little ones, with cribs jammed against each other which are jammed against stark walls. All dignity and sense of value is stripped from the children, as they often lie in their own waste for Lord-knows-how-long. Even the fact that boys and girls share each others’ pink and blue pajamas (which is their only form of clothing) is a tell-tale sign of their devalued personhood.



You say, wouldn’t it be a mindless thing to give blue pj’s to boys and pink to girls? But caretakers work there not as a fulfillment of their passion. It’s the job they get, and it’s only that—a job. In inhumanely short supply are hugs, cuddles, warm embraces, the kissing of boo-boos, the cooing of kind words, and tender kisses on sweet little cheeks. Sadly, they receive none of it in their dreary bubble. They are merely plants to be watered and cleaned. But sometimes, these “plants” are even mistreated.

I witnessed things that brought me to tears on a daily basis. Treatment that left me speechless--and on my knees, begging God to make it all better. This could be how our Hailee one day sported a red wound on her little face; a wound that “surprised” the caretakers when asked about it through our interpreter. With the deep groan of a mother’s sadness, I wondered how often and how many other children receive similar treatment or worse on any given day.

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Sadly, the worst is yet to come for these angels who waste away in “laying rooms.” Around their fifth birthday they get transferred to a mental asylum—a place where you or I would not even admit our family pet.

The need is desperate. But GOD…


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5) I'd love to just sit down and have tea with you for five hours and pick your brain about international adoption....obviously it is a life-changing decision. What advice can you give to families who are hesitant to adopt internationally because of a) finances b) travel and c) whether they can handle the stress of it all.


There was a time in our lives when we too were concerned about those very things. How could we afford it? What about the long travel? Could we handle another child? With all my heart I understand all the concerns that people have about adding to their family through adoption. I would be lying if I said it was easy—because it is not! Like anything the Lord calls us to do in this life, it will require a huge amount of faith, patience, hard work and effort, and trusting that He WILL meet us on the other side. I am convinced that nothing that we are called to do is easy. It is on the road less traveled that we meet Jesus face to face and see His faithfulness in new and amazing ways.

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Yes, adoption IS expensive. Ridiculously so. My husband is a Christian minister. We have never earned a lot of money. We have always lived month to month with little, if any, savings in the bank. We knew the first time we stepped out to adopt that it would take an enormous amount of faith—yet God told us we only needed the size of a mustard seed. We raised funds for all four of our adoptions. God provided in ways we never imagined, bringing in a total of $100,000. Every adoption was fully paid for through our fundraising efforts! The Lord was faithful to mobilize His mighty army to help us meet the needs.

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Travel varies according to different countries. I know that China and Ethiopia both have shorter travel times. There are many options. A domestic adoption requires none!

Adoption can definitely be stressful. The paperwork can feel overwhelming at times. The key is just to take one baby step at a time. Tackle one piece of paperwork at a time. God’s grace is sufficient. It somehow does all come together at the end. And the paperwork and stress of the whole journey does soon become nothing but a distant memory. It really is a do-able thing. Just keep your eyes on the glorious prize that waits for you on the other side.

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Every piece of paperwork, every challenge, every teary night, every longing to hold your child, every frustration along the way…..it is all so very worth it!


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I believe that all God is looking for are those who are willing to say, “Yes, Lord.” He’ll take care of the rest.

People tell us all the time how “lucky” our four girls are. Yes, perhaps they are. But the greatest blessing has been for US, their parents. We’re the “lucky” ones.

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Stay tuned for part 2!!!


Also- if you missed my "all call" in the post below, please take a minute to read it..I have about 1/3 of the pictures I need as of this post. It's going to be good!

All Call

Dear friends,

Yesterday I posted about comment that I read on an article about the new early testing for Down syndrome. The name of the article was "Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?"

One commenter said something that still has me upset today. And I realize he (I originally thought it was a woman) was just one person commenting. But his views, however twisted and sad, are really what is the "unspoken" reasoning behind many abortions... that we as a society should have the right to choose who is fit for life and who is not.

If you are a reader here who is pro-choice, (because I know I have a few) that is one issue. And I don't think anyone reading here has to dig deep to know where I stand on that issue.

What this commenter was suggesting goes beyond choice- he is suggesting that Down syndrome is worthy of abolishing. That my Lily, however "wonderful and kind" she is (read his comment in the post below)- is not worthy of life.

If this commenter's words sickened you, as they did me, I am putting together a message to "Modern Sound". I'm looking for 100 photos of babies or children or adults with Down syndrome. If you are interested in sending a message to this commenter, and those who share his views but aren't so bold (or ignorant) to give voice to them...please email me.

I also found a wonderful resource today (thank you, Diane!) that I would like to share...

http://idscforlife.wordpress.com/


On an entirely different note, I am SO excited about an upcoming interview I'm going to post later on today. You do not want to miss this, if you have a heart for orphans. And on top of all this...we are doing a huge giveaway here, to help Olga, Kareen and Peter starting February 1st. Please spread the word..can't wait to see what God will do!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Abolishing Down Syndrome?

I. am. appalled.

I just read this article: Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?

...and this comment afterwards, from someone called "The modern sound" ...


If you can prevent suffering, wouldn't you? Perhaps something like Type II diabetes -- a disease that is usually adult-onset and easy to manage with proper attention -- wouldn't be worthy of an abortion, but something as serious and disabling as down syndrome? I know that the individuals who have it often lead relatively good lives, but they die young and often suffer quite a bit during their lives.

I would urge the parents of these children who advocate against testing or termination upon a positive test to examine how much of their opinion is based upon their own need to care and love for their child. Yes, your child is likely wonderful and kind -- most people with down syndrome are incredibly nice -- but are all the struggles they go through worth it? Wouldn't it be good to abolish something as clearly problematic as down syndrome, to effectively cure it?


This "modern" man's view of my Lily has me Strengthening My Core.

Monday, January 24, 2011

True Advocacy

Dearest Lily,

Yesterday I had an epiphany...


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Daddy ministered during our morning church service on pain and suffering, and how they are both inescapable in this journey we call life. He talked about how God is not the author of tragedy~ but that He uses it to bring us closer to Him and to minister comfort to others.

During the sermon my mind kept going to the children we know, who are experiencing pain and suffering so horrible we can't even imagine it. Olga and Kareen and Peter are never far from our minds. We live each day with the hope and prayer that soon they'll be rescued and placed in loving families...and that the nightmare that was their life for so long becomes a distant or forgotten memory.

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So while I was thinking about these children, who have become so dear to my heart they feel like my children, I kept coming back to your diagnosis.

Sometimes I go through incredible mental gymnastics, trying to make sense of it all, Lily.

I've said it before~ I prayed for you to be born without Down syndrome. I prayed for so long during my pregnancy, and poured my heart out to God, asking Him to do a miracle inside my womb...if you did indeed have that extra chromosome. I prayed long before you were conceived for you to be healthy and "whole"..and I specifically prayed for you to not have Down syndrome.

And for those who would say that your diagnosis came as a lack of faith...I had all the faith in the world that God would answer my prayer. I had prayed the same for 9 other babies before you..none of whom surprised us with a little something extra like you did.

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So here's how my mental gymnastics go...I prayed for something specific, and God gave me you.

I felt God speak to my heart during my pregnancy, "If you ask me for bread, will I give you a stone?" At some point during my pregnancy- I could not pray anymore that God would "heal" you. I would get to that part of my conversation with the Lord...and just feel this huge check in my spirit. It was as if I knew I was having a girl, but I was praying for a boy. That's how strongly I felt~ that if I were going to pray against something, and ask God to take something away from you...I would literally be asking God to give me another child.

I'm not saying I would ever tell a pregnant mama to stop praying for her child to be born without Down syndrome. I'm saying I hit a point in my pregnancy when I personally could not bring myself to pray that prayer anymore ~ and feel right about it.

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So yesterday while I was listening to your Daddy's sermon, and contemplating suffering, and Olga and Kareen and Peter, and Down syndrome, and life...

..it just really became clear to me.


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You are not suffering.

You have a wonderful life, a family who loves you, a safe warm home, all the medical help you need, you are treasured and valued and accepted...and the worst that could happen to you, as far as having a diagnosis of Down syndrome, here in America...

...is that you be called a name. Or made fun of. Or rejected. Or stared at.

And while those things are not pleasant, and I do hope with all my heart that our culture changes, and that people really do become aware of the fact that a life lived with Down syndrome is not a death sentence or a tragedy...

...while I advocate and educate and write and speak and do all I can to bring awareness to the fact that a child or an adult with Down syndrome is a gift and a treasure, and yes, even a blessing...



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There is so much more to be aware of.

There is true suffering in the world, the kind that moves the heart of God, the kind that hurts to look at or read about, the kind that deserves our attention and prayers and action.

And while I applaud every effort of those who would rally around the cause of awareness, and who hope to create a culture where you and children and adults like you have every opportunity to "realize their life aspirations and become valued members of welcoming communities"...

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...we are not suffering.

You and I have a lifetime of blessing ahead of us, dearest Lily.

A life that Olga and Kareen and Peter and others like them will never know, without our help.

Forget acceptance and opportunity and aspirations- right now these children don't even have a shot at LIFE.

And yesterday I determined that I don't care how unpopular heralding a sad story might be...

These children need us.

They have no voice.

They are helpless to speak for themselves, to alert the world of their plight.

They have no mommies or daddies to advocate for them or defend them or teach them that they are of value, they don't even know what it is to be loved, let alone "accepted".



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And so, dear Lily, once again I am thanking God for giving me you.

For in that gift, I have also been given perspective.

Life is not wrapped up in what I can gain, or what I can accomplish...or even in what my children can accomplish.

Life is about loving God with all my heart and mind and soul and strength, and loving others more than myself.

Thankfully and lovingly yours,
Mama oxox

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Your Furry Friends

Dearest Lily,

Of our ten children, four are animal lovers..Josiah, Tyler, Noah...and YOU.

Every time I am tempted to get rid of find new homes for our four legged creatures, I catch you gazing at them with a loving, longing look in your eyes...and I reconsider.

I don't know if it's the fact that they are pretty much at eye level with you, or that they are covered with fur and move more quickly than your siblings... but you are obsessed with our dogs.

Tillie is a shih-tzu and 13 years old, so...about a hundred and twenty something in dog years. She tolerates you, like an old granny who believes children should be seen and not heard. You love to gently stroke her fur, but we carefully monitor this; I'm just waiting for the day when you discover Tillie's tail or ears and decide to give them a yank.

Lady on the other hand, seems a tad nervous of your affections. She is a cockapoo, and although she is nicely trimmed right now, she normally looks like a small red lion. You LOVE to watch her run around, and if we are trying to get you to smile or wave or pose for a picture, we can forget it if Lady walks by. You only have eyes for that dog, and God help the serious photographer who gets in between you and that mutt. I've seen you drop a cookie and do a nose dive into the carpet in a frantic attempt to catch Miss Ladybug as she trots past you...only to have her take refuge on an ottoman or chair.

The other day I caught you having a one-way conversation with your would-be best friend. Apparently Lady doesn't realize that your love for her is one of the only things keeping me from placing an ad in the "pets for sale" section of our newspaper... because if she did she might be a tad more responsive to your requests to play!






Loving my little animal lover,
Mama oxox

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Faithful Friends

Dearest Lilybird,

One of the things I have loved so much about writing my letters to you is the friends we have met along the way....who have come here to read and comment and share our journey together. Many times the people who comment have blogs themselves, and we've met so many other families of babies or children with Down syndrome this way.

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One of our favorite blogging friends is a mama named Elissa and her beautiful baby Abbie . Yesterday a package came in the mail for your birthday~ Elissa made you a beautiful tutu and matching headband and onesie with a darling rhinestone ladybug.

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I could not wait to try it on you, and all day I kept bugging your sissy to do a little photo shoot with you wearing your new outfit. (***your new header was designed by sissy as well!**)

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Elissa is one of those creative, thoughtful, brilliant mamas who inspires me to be a better person. She also has a heart of gold.

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She emailed me...at 3:30 this morning...and guess why I knew that? Because I was up nursing you and praying for Olga and Peter and Kareen. And Elissa was doing the same.

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I love how connected we are, although we've never met in person. And I know that when these children are safely home with their families some day..it will be in great part thanks to Elissa...and Stephanie...and Libby...and Lori...and Tekeal...and Lisa...and Barbara ..and a host of other blogging (or non-blogging!) mamas who have been praying and contending and believing for them day after day.

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So thankful for our friends, and so thankful for you,
Mama oxox

Are You My Mommy?

***from the Reece's Rainbow Blog****


Are You My Mother?

Please?

Are you my mother?


Are you the mother who will gasp in shock when she sees my picture for the first time? The one who will know that I am hers even though she has never held me or touched me?


Are you the one who will work around the clock to fill out endless piles of paper so you can adopt me?

The one who will plow through the house finding things to sell and who will sit up late into the night making crafts and baked goods so that I can come home?

The one who will beg for donations from every man, woman and child she meets so that she can raise the money to cover my adoption expenses?

Are you the one who will rush crazily around the house washing windows and vacuuming floors so that when the social worker arrives, the house will pass inspection?

The one who will cry and weep at night thinking about me over here?

The one who will mourn that I am not at her table and that I am not safe in bed at night in her house?

The one who won't be overwhelmed at my medical issues but will trust that God will help her care for me?

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**Peter is facing the institution in a few months**


The one who can no longer look at other children without thinking about me and who is forever talking about me to everyone who will listen?

The one who wonders how big I am as she wanders through the stores, picking out outfits for my closet and imagining me inside those clothes?

The one who spends much of her time on her knees before the Lord praying over every single piece of paper that is needed for my adoption, that they will pass all the endless inspections required?

The one who panics that they are just not going to be able to raise the money needed to come get me?

The one who is having her faith stretched beyond all human understanding that God will provide everything she needs to bring me home?

The one who carries my picture around in her wallet?

The one who loves me even when I am not at my best?

The one who counts down the months, weeks, days and minutes until she can come get me?

The one who yells like she has gone mad when she receives the Golden Ticket that means my paperwork gets to cross the ocean to my country?

The one who waits with no patience for the date when she can come get me?

The one who cries out for protection for the ones she is leaving behind as she boards a plane to my country?

Please?


Are you my mother?

Are you the Mommy who longs to walk into my world, my room, my life and hold me close to your heart?

Are you my mother? Are you the Mommy I long for every single day of my life?

Please - Are you my mother?


I so very much want a mother.


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**Olga turns five this month, and may have already been transferred to the institution**


I am lost without you.


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Dear Friends,

Olga and Peter are literally living on borrowed time. Every day counts for these children.

Every day.

If a family commits to Olga and submits a dossier, there is a possibility that her orphanage will hold her until that family travels to get her. This depends on the director of her orphanage, and whether they are "pro-adoption" or not. Some orphanages begin to process the paperwork for a transfer once a child turns 4, so that they will be transferred at age 5. Some wait and try to hold onto the child as long as possible. We don't know what Olga's orphanage does.

And believe me, at 3 in the morning I am plotting ways to find out. It's amazing what my brain can come up with in the wee hours of the morning.

If you are interested in adopting Olga or Peter, please contact Andrea Roberts at Reece's Rainbow today.

If finances are what is weighing heavy on your heart, and possibly holding you back from committing- please know that we have a wonderful giveaway coming up to help increase these children's grants. We are anxious to see what God will do through this, and I know a whole lot of Lily's readers are as well.

Please pray specifically for families to come forward for Olga and for Peter, and keep Kareen's family in your prayers as well.

Thank you so much,
Patti

Friday, January 21, 2011

HELP!

Dearest Lily,

Awhile ago we were all eating pancakes on a Saturday morning, the day of the BCS National championship. We were rooting for Auburn, because they were playing our rivals, the Oregon Ducks.

Lily, we have tried to instill this in you since birth...as citizens of Corvallis, the home of the OSU Beavers, we are and always will be~ loyal Beaver fans, forever and ever, amen.

After filming this, we realized we might have a little rebel in our midst...




...and we are all wondering what hypnotic powers your doctor used on you all those months ago!
**click link to see our GIANT duck fan of a doctor;)**



Praying for your conversion,

Mama oxox

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Mind of Your Own

Dearest Lily,

Last week when Karen, your therapist was here, she asked if you played with crayons at all, or tried to draw on things. I laughed and said no, and that I couldn't really picture you doing that yet.

I think you heard me, and determined to prove me wrong..


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Lately you have been very insistent about feeding yourself. Sometimes if I hold a spoon or fork up to you, you will shake your head no and grab at the food yourself.

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On Monday when Laura was visiting you, you had a little trouble keeping your hands to yourself...

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I wanted to do a photo shoot with you wearing the new monkey hat Grammi got for you...but you wanted to take a nap instead...

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I think we are learning that our little Lilybird has a mind of her own!

Loving my Little Miss Independence,
Mama oxox