Friday, December 23, 2011

is it worth it?

This is a difficult post to's not a typical letter to Lily or an update on a milestone she just met. It's not a fundraiser or an appeal to give to orphans. It's just me blogging from my heart.

I've been praying and thinking about a lot of issues for a few weeks..if you're a regular reader here and you read my post called risks, it hinted at some of the things I've been wrestling through. And hopefully you got the point at the end: that although I've been struggling, I do believe the risks we take in life are worth it, even if the end result was not something we gambled for.

One of the risks I mentioned was orphan advocacy. If you've been reading Lily's blog since the beginning, you know that much of my writing shifted a year ago, from journaling my feelings and journey with Lily and her diagnosis of Down syndrome, to writing about orphans with Down syndrome in Eastern Europe and many other nations of the world. These orphans have no hope for a family or a future without the generous donations of people who read about them, and it's been my hope that by sharing their plight I can somehow help them find families...even if we can't adopt.

I've read about adoptions gone wrong on other blogs, but up until this month I'd never experienced it in the children I advocate for. And to be honest when I started reading about other adoptions that didn't have such a pretty ending as the ones I've blogged about, I began to get very nervous about asking people to give.

If your family is anything like our family, sometimes finances require a lot of faith. Some months in the Rice household we honestly have to just believe God to help us through, and this year's economy hasn't helped much. Don't get me wrong- God is always faithful to provide, and even when we think we're struggling, we are so much better off than most of the world.

But in light of that struggle, I know how hard it can be to make a decision to just give your hard earned money away. If you met me in real life you would probably laugh at the contrast you saw in my blog personality versus my real-life-personality. I'm the mom who never wants to ask anyone to babysit or do nursery at church. I hate asking people for favors, and I absolutely will never ever ask anyone to donate to something if I have to do it verbally. But my little bloggy is a different story- because writing has always been one of my greatest passions, and I don't have to look anyone in the eye when I plead from my heart- give to these children.

So here's where I've been struggling- I don't like asking people to give when I can't guarantee the outcome. If I ask readers to give and give to a particular child, and through no fault of Reece's Rainbow or the adopting family or anyone else involved, that child becomes unavailable for adoption - I am very concerned about the people who gave. I don't want anyone feeling that they gave in vain, or questioning what they gave to. Because as I said, we know what it means to sacrifice other things to give.

I talked a lot of these things through with an experienced blogger and adoptive mama last week. She made this statement and it really stuck with me- adoption is a moving target. There are bumps in the road, sometimes unexpected detours, and sometimes there is a complete new destination than the one originally planned. (and I know I just completely mixed my metaphors there;)) Just as with any parenting journey, there are no guarantees.

I've been pregnant 13 times...only 10 of those pregnancies ended with a healthy baby in my arms. Were those other three pregnancies worth the risk, even though I'll never see those babies til Heaven? Absolutely. If I would have decided 17 years ago that two back-to-back miscarriages hurt so much that I never wanted to try again for more children, I would have missed out on Tyler, Jonathan, Caleb, Abigail, Noah and Jackson. And if I weighed those risks again after losing a baby two years ago and decided there was too much potential hurt involved...I wouldn't have Lily.

So what I'm trying to say is...I can't guarantee a happy ending for every child I advocate for. I've heard of parents who raised all the money they needed for a child, sacrificed and planned and restructured their entire lives to adopt- and the child died before they got there. We live in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect people. It's just reality that things happen beyond our control, and even when we pray and have total confidence that things are going to go the way we planned, life has a way of proving us wrong.

Adoption is a moving target- but so is life.

So this is the story behind the story...the reason I wrote that letter to Lily about risks.

I had incredibly high odds of having a baby with Down syndrome, given my age and her heart defect and other soft markers. One in three, I believe were my odds at our 20 week ultrasound. I looked those odds in the face and said she is worth it. Every tear cried, every midnight prayer offered up, every sudden plunge into the unknown on that roller coaster of a pregnancy, was worth having my beautiful baby girl placed in my arms and knowing she was mine.

Are the risks high in orphan advocacy? Is it worth asking people to see the need, see the child behind the picture, give even when it hurts, when we know that sometimes the end result is not what we had planned for?

Lily wasn't what I planned for. I asked God to give me a baby without Down syndrome- fervently prayed before all of my pregnancies for a baby with no chromosomal "problems". And God gave me Lily. I believe that with all my heart.

And I can't pretend that woven into that intricate pattern, this design called my life, there wasn't a golden and beautiful thread called orphan advocacy. Sometimes that unfinished and intricate design looks a little messy on this side of Heaven. Sometimes we wrestle with the Creator- because we wanted the design to look like this and not the way it's turning out.

And maybe my eternal-optimist-of-a-husband has rubbed off on me all these years, but I do believe at the end of the day it's all good.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish exceedingly, abundantly more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20

 Is it worth it?



Kareen, before adoption

Kareen today

 Peter's orphanage picture

Peter at the orphanage today...court date the day after Christmas, Gotcha date (prayerfully!) January 6th !

And thank you, Mandy Rhodes for answering that question it worth it??

Samuel and Joseph last year

THEY are worth it.


Rochelle said...

SO worth it! =)

Jennifer said...

amen!! You are awesome, Patti - I'm so glad I've gotten to know you through this crazy internet world! :) Looking forward to meeting you in person soon - and our girls getting together. It's SO worth it - even though we won't know for sure our girls will be our girls until we're home with them in our arms, it's absolutely worth every risk along the way! We're ecstatic to be their parents! :)

Merry Christmas!!!

Unknown said...

amen amen amen!!! love you Patti! xxx

Amy said...

Beautifully written as usual! And you make me long for my little Lina even MORE after reading this!! Can't wait to get back there and bring her home!

Marianne said...

Yes, they are SO worth it!! Detours happen!

nicole said...

Thanks for putting yourself out there and advocating for the voiceless. For whatever reason, it doesn't bother me at all when I've donated money and it's been switched to another child because of unforeseen events ~ either way, it's helping a child. Merry Christmas everyone!

Jonana said...

Thank you so much for taking the risk and advocating for these precious children with Down syndrome who have no hope.
I try to explain to people about that time when God was opening my eyes to this, how my heart was breaking, how I just knew we were supposed to do it, how my husband wasn't on board at first and how God not only showed me that we were supposed to adopt a child with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe but then how he showed me that we were supposed to adopt Albina. I try to explain that time to people and I can't. I don't have the words. But I can let you know how your blog was one of the things that just weighed on me and that God used in that process. I remember finding this post,, a couple of weeks after you posted it. (The giveaway for Albina with the camera had come and gone before I found your site). But I remember reading that post over and over and over. I would come back to it and read it again. And then there was the day that I saw this post,, and I remember crying so hard that tears were falling on my tiny little phone screen because for some reason I was on my phone when I saw that post. I remember frantically searching around your blog thinking, "oh, no! oh, no! oh, no!" but then also thinking, "but she has a home, that's good....but no, no, no she's mine..." I'm telling you, those were some emotional days. But I say all of that to say this, your blog and your heart for orphans are changing this world one little extra chromosome at a time so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Michelle Z said...

You have such a way with words!

SO worth it.

JC said...

Patti you are an amazing woman.

Julia said...

THAT MADE ME CRY. Just saying!!

Anna Theurer said...

I know exactly what you are talking about and it is all well worth the risk. Adoption or any life change is a moving target. Never stop advocating. Never stop trying because you and your readers are making a difference.

cathy said...

There are NO guarantees in life...we all know that, but we need people like you, doing what you are doing, or else there would be no HOPE in this world

Bless you, Dear Friend


Leslie said...

I think you are amazing, Patti! Although I don't believe it has happened with any of the children I have donated to, I personally wouldn't mind one bit if my money was transferred to another child. Although it makes me sad when an adoption falls through, a kid is a kid! And if my money can help a child find a loving home, that's all I care about. I agree with the previous comment that you have such a way with words! Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family!

Nina said...

Patti, I feel that so much of what we do is out of obedience to our Heavenly Father. We are to reach out to those in need, do all that we can to be a reflection of God's love, etc. We do things because it's what is right, not because we have to have a guaranteed outcome. Thank you for providing the opportunities that you do; we're responsible for our actions, not the results. God is in control and you are a wonderfully, faithful servant. Grateful to "know" you through this blog!
Merry Christmas, dear friend!

cara said...

Yes it IS worth it!!! It is ALL worth it. Thank you for ALL that you do Patti. Love you.

Anonymous said...

I followed Kareen's story from beginning to end. Such a wonderful happy ending. I think it's wrong that they changed her name from Kareen to something else. She was old enough to know her name. But, I'd rather see her in the LDS church with a new name than strapped to a bed in a mental institution, so I guess it's all relative.

one_plustwins said...


Julie, proud mommy of PETER said...

You bet it is! Love you Aunt Patti!

Meriah said...

I'm always a little surprised when it seems that some people are upset because something changed. I completely agree in the (well put) phrase of it being a "moving target" - I've always seen it as a commitment to the process of adopting, commitment to saying, "hey, I'm going to embrace a child that I didn't grow in my own body and make him/her of my spiritual flesh"

We're all human and RR is a very small organization working with very limited funds and staff, from a great (international) distance. Of course things happen, they're going to happen in any case, but most of all when there are more cracks to slip through, like the crack of language, of legal issues, of complications, and so forth.

We just have to keep trying and know that the dollars going to a particular child's fund is really a dollar going to SOMETHING related to the adoption of SOMEONE who needs it.

(my two cents. whew. that was long, huh)

Patti said...

meriah- that two cents was worth 2 million- thank you:):) ox