Thursday, December 30, 2010

Only 2 days left in 2010! Can we raise $514.55?

Only two days left to contribute to the RR Angel Tree fundraiser! What are you waiting for?

Also, after the new year, RR will combine all of the funds raised for Martin--his original adoption grant, his Angel Tree funds, and the House Family Service Page--into a single amount on the FSP. That is good news for compulsives like me, who are constanting adding the numbers from those three pages together. LOL!

As of 9:44 am on Thursday, December 30, 2010, Martin's original grant fund is $2310. His Angel Tree fund is $1252, and the House Family's FSP is $3323.45. So, out of the approximately $30,000 estimated cost of adoption from Martin's country, we have raised $6,985.45! That is nearly 1/4 of the goal!

Can we try to get all the way to that 1/4 mark? Can we try to raise Martin's grant funds to $7,500 by January 1, 2011? That is only another $514.55!

Come on, you know you want to! It's for our boy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


God of power and mercy,
open our hearts in welcome.
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving
Christ with joy.

This is from the opening prayer of the second Sunday of Advent, and has really spoken to my heart all through this season of anticipation.

So many children on the Reeces Rainbow site have had families commit to them, including Martin and Elizabeth. The hearts of so many have been opened in welcome.

My prayer this Advent is that God opens our hearts in welcome to Him, however He presents Himself to us, that He removes anything that hinders us from receiving Christ with joy, and that we may wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Angel Tree Fundraiser is almost over!

Okay, guys. Only 11 more days left in the RR Christmas Angel Tree Fundraiser. Martin's Angel Tree fund is up to $1,252. Yah! But, it is still $748 short of the $2,000 goal I set for us (okay, for me, but since I don't have $2,000 I had to include you all in my calculation) ;-)

So what do you say? Can we get it done? Checks made out to Reece's Rainbow, memo lines marked "For Martin (2H)" and mailed to:
Reece's Rainbow
PO Box 4024
Gaithersburg, MD 20885

Or hop on over to the RR website and scroll down to Martin's beautiful face to make an on-line donation.

Of course, if you happen to fall in love with one of the other faces you have to scroll past to get down to Martin, and want to make a donation to another child's grant fund too...well, no one would blame you for that either.

Thanks. Peace. Out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas is coming

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat.
Please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha' penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha' penny then God bless you.

I learned this song as a "round" sometime in my childhood, and it has been coming into my head a lot as we move through Advent toward Christmas.

I love that it expresses anticipation, giving what you can no matter how small, and God's blessings.

It makes me think of all the people giving their pennies, ha' pennies and prayers to those in need, whether they be orphans living halfway around the world or someone in our own kitchen who needs an extra bit of patience at the end of a long day.

Christmas is coming.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Friends of Martin

I feel blessed by so many friends who are contributing in whatever way they can to help Martin come home--friends I already knew, and new friends I may never meet (including Charlie and Melissa House who are working so hard to bring Martin home to their house!).

I have always tried to base my life on reason. I have seen where unbridled emotions can lead, and it is not pretty. It has always seemed to me that living a life driven by "feelings" without the tempering effect of rationality can ultimiately only lead to despair. It is one of the things I love about the Catholic Church, I mean what other church would issue an encyclical entitled "Faith and Reason"? :-)

Yet, here I am, advocating, fund raising, praying for a child I have never met. A child whose situation is not unique. A child whose need is great, certainly, any "reasonable" assessment of the facts of his existence bear that out, but a child who is just one of many in this world of great needs. And I am doing this because of a feeling, because of a burden placed on my heart for this child.

I suspect that some of you are supporting Martin for just the same reason. I think that makes you my friend. It makes all of us Friends of Martin.

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."
— C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Nothing, from a Mom who has seen it.

I stole this post from Julia. Her son Aaron was transferred from the baby house to a mental institution. Aaron came home from the institution, so Julia was able to witness the conditions there first hand. (Julia's original post has photos, so you might want to go here and look at it.)

If you read this, it will give you an idea of why we need to work so hard to bring Martin home as quickly as possible. We need to keep this from happening to him. It breaks my heart to think of Martin, or any child, living in such a place.

Aaron's Nothing

We live a harried life. Running here, there and everywhere. We work, take our kids to this activity, then that activity, rush to meetings, juggle schedules and cook, clean and work side-jobs in our spare time. We rarely have time to do Nothing.

We love doing Nothing. A day where we have no appointments, no meetings and no places where our children have to be. An evening where we can stay at home, curl up as a family with a bowl of popcorn and watch a movie. An afternoon where we can take a walk or play in the yard. Nothing. Nothing so that we can do what we find pleasurable. Reading a book, building a puzzle, playing a game. Nothing has warm connotations, happy thoughts. Nothing is what we live for as a family.

For us, in America, Nothing means Everything.

For the Lost Boys and Girls, Nothing means NOTHING.

This is what NOTHING looks like for the Lost Boys at Aaron's former institute. This was Aaron's Nothing. A shed with Nothing in it but carpets and benches. Nothing.

On warm days, 20 plus boys will be led to this shed. 20 plus boys will go inside this shed. A bench will be placed across the door so that they will not be allowed to leave. Then, those 20 plus boys will do nothing. They will sit inside that shed. They will sit. They will rock. They will cry out. They will moan. They will stare at the walls. They will hit each other. They will hit themselves. They will sit. They will sit. They will wait. After hours of sitting they will get to leave for another shed, to eat. They will be forced to eat quickly so that they can be led back to this shed. To do Nothing. In the afternoon they will be led to their rooms. They will be made to lay down on their beds. For hours they will lay on those beds. Some will sleep to escape. Others will lay and do Nothing. Staring at the walls, ceiling - staring at Nothing. When it is time to get up, they will go back to their shed. Again, to do Nothing.

On rainy days, or cold days, they will stay in their buildings. They will not leave those buildings. They will not venture downstairs or get to visit the other boys in the other buildings or even in the other part of their building. No. They will stay in their section. They will sit in the sitting room. It is as empty as the shed. Benches and carpets. They will sit. They will sit and they will do Nothing. They will rock. They will moan. They will hit each other. They will hit themselves. They will sit. They will wait. They will stare at the four walls. They will do Nothing.

Once in a while, on weekends, they will get to hear music. The bigger boys will get to do jobs. Some jobs that are heart-breaking. The best behaved boys will get to kick a deflated ball sometimes. Sometimes a stick can be found for drawing in the dirt. Sometimes they will even let a child or two play in the sand pile that is often used as a toilet. Sometimes. On really rare days, when visitors come, they may even get out a hidden toy or two. Rarely. Most of the time, they do Nothing.

Nothing for the Lost Boys and Girls in Eastern Europe means Nothing.

Two worlds. Our Nothing. Their Nothing. Can we just sit by and do Nothing?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Half-way through the Angel Tree Project

Well, we are officially more than halfway through the RR Angel Tree Project which ends on December 31.

You remember, where Martin's Christmas Warriors commit to raise $1,000 for the his adoption grant?

The one where, for a $35 donation you get a cool Christmas ornament with Martin's picture on it?

The good news is that we have reached that $1,000 goal. The bad news is that it is not nearly enough to bring Martin home.

Let's try to double that between now and the end of the year!

Just click here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, under the "My Family Found Me" section.

Look for Martin's adorable face. ;-)

Click on the "add" button just beneath it.

Then "check out" using the "Angel Tree Shopping Cart" near the top of the page.

Or you could send your donation, clearly marked as being for Martin, to:
Reece’s Rainbow
PO Box 4024
Gaithersburg, MD 20885

Nothing could be easier, or more important.

To get an ornament, your donation needs to be received by December 14. (I think) So what are you waiting for?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why "reckless abandon" is needed

Hmm, if you want to see why reckless abandon in the care of orphans is needed, look no further than Julia's post about her experience at an insitution for disabled boys and men, orphans, in Eastern Europe. It makes for some very hard reading.

We need to all work together with reckless abandon to make sure that Martin gets home to his family. Please remember to keep Martin and the House Family in your prayers, and to make those little sacrifices that can go a long way to bringing Martin home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Little Sacrifice

Okay, all you Martin fans out there probably know this already from reading the House Family's Blog, but Martin's family is blowing through their paperwork at a record pace.

That is great news! The little man cannot get home soon enough for his family (or for us). But, it also means that there is not much time for Martin's family to raise the money needed to ransom him.

Now, a lot of blogs and fundraisers are selling things or doing give aways. Today I want to take a different approach. I don't want to talk about getting today. Today, I want to talk about giving. I want to talk about sacrifice.

Now don't get nervous, I am not going to talk about big ;-) Today I want to talk about a lot of people making little sacrifices that can all add up.

Okay, how many of you run your lives on caffeine? Come on, be honest. How many cups of coffee (or tea, or coke, or diet pepsi) do you have a week? Is it 5 or 6 or 27? Now, how many of those do you buy to drink. How many times a week do you drop $1.69 on a cup of coffee at the Dunkin Donuts instead of making it at home?

Are you willing to make a little sacrifice to help bring Martin home? How about giving up just 5 cups of your on-the-go purchased caffeinated beverage of choice for a week and donating the money you save to help bring Martin home?

If someone were to give up 5 medium cups of coffee at $1.69, that would be a savings of $8.45. If 100 people were to do that, it would raise $845. If 200 of us did it, Martin's family would be $1,690 closer to bringing him home. If 500 people make that small sacrifice, then in one week we could raise $4,225 to bring Martin home.

By banding together and making a lot of little sacrifices, we can make a big difference. Will you do it? Will you sacrifice the cost of your caffeinated beverages for one week to help save a little boy from life in an institution?

Link to this post, post this to facebook, tell your friends, tell your families. Let's spread the word and get a jump start on this fund raising thing, after all, we need to catch up with the House Family and their paperwork finishing tornado.

Go here to donate your little sacrifice to Martin.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Expanded Mission

Martin's family has started their own blog, and in the generosity of their hearts have not limited it to be about just Martin and their family. The are also going to use their blog "to promote the need to find homes for those children that have disabilities and don't have families."

Wow! Can I say (again) how grateful I am that this family is bringing Martin home?

I will continue to try to raise financial and prayer support to bring Martin home to his family, but, following their example, I am also going to expand the mission of this blog to help find families for other children with disabilities.

After all, if the internet can bring the face of a little boy in an Eastern European orphange to the facebook page of a man in America, who just got off a plane from Afghanistan, mabe it can help other children find their families too. (Note, I am definitely not saying this blog had anything to do with getting Martin's picture there (I can't imagine it did), but his father did see him for the first time on facebook).

Thank you for your generous hearts and your good example, House Family.

For the rest of you, if you want to see some of the faces of those children who need homes, watch the RR Christmas Video on the sidebar of this blog.


Remember we talked about some of the places that childen with disabilities are sent to when they "age out" of the baby house in the EE orphanage system?

Remember that most of these places are not good places for children...or anyone?

This beautiful girl has been transferred to such a place.

I don't know whether it is one of the "bad" places or one of the "not so bad" places.

I do know that it is not as good as going home to a family.

Is there someone missing from your family?

Does someone you know have someone missing from their family?

Maybe they need a 7 year old girl with DS and just don't know it yet.

Full medical records are available, and she is eligible for an Older Child Adoption Grant from Reece's Rainbow.

Let's plaster this beautiful face all over the internet. Blog about it, put it on your facebook page, just get it out there. Sarah at Rainbows Come from Above did, and she has more really great pictures of Elizabeth that show her gently caring for her baby dolls.

This princess has been hidden away long enough, let's bring her out into the light so her family can find her. And please, keep Elizabeth and her family in your prayers.

If you think you might be Elizabeth's family follow the links to learn more about her, and get in touch with Andrea at Reece's Rainbow. She can help you with the rest.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Presenting....Martin's Family!

It sounds like a perfect match...

The House Family has committed to bring Martin home. Martin's adoptive parents obviously love boys, since Martin will be their third. And guess what? One of Martin's brothers shares a little something extra with him, an extra copy of that famous 21st chromosome!

Now, it is time for us to really get to work doing all we can to support the House Family in bringing Martin home. Martin is coming home to an active duty military family...okay, I need to say it, a Marine Corp family!

Martin's parents sound perfect for him. They are experienced parents and advocates for people with Down Syndrome, but large sums of cash (like the $30,000 or so for adoption from Martin's country), is probably not one of the many gifts they bring to parenting Martin. That is something that we can help them with.

As Martin's father (I just love writing that) said on his facebook page:

"Alright folks! This is really going to happen. We need all the support we can get from our family, friends, and all those that want to see Martin come home! Please help us get him home where he belongs with us. Follow the link below and help make this dream come true for Martin and our family......"

Follow this link, keep spreading the word, pray, give what you can and let's make this happen for Martin and his family!

Reckless Abandon

"Reckless abandon for the sake of His orphans...simply because they so desperately need us. Come what may." These are the words that Adeye wrote in her blog sharing a Christian view of adoption from her perspective.

I have always been more of a "prudential judgment" type of person. Even the things I have done as an adult that look like reckless abandon mostly came about as the result of a long process of discernment laden with heavy doses of reason, but lately I have begun to wonder if that view is not too narrow. The focus of my faith journey recently has been about trusting God. Maybe that is one of the reasons that Adeye's post struck me so strongly.

I do not believe that everyone should adopt an orphan, just as I do not believe everyone should jump in the rushing flood waters to save the person who fell in (especially, if they can't swim themselves). Someone needs to stay on the bank and call 911.

Still, Adeye's words challenge me. "God hardly ever calls us to do things for Him when everything in our lives is just grand. He never calls us to walk on the water when our circumstances are sweet." Go read her post and think about it some. Even if we can't all adopt, what can we do to care for orphans with reckless abandon?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Martin found a family! It is true; I saw it this morning here.

I sat down this morning to write a post about Thanksgiving, and how much I am thankful for, well so many things, but you know that I had to check on my little man in EE before I did. He was on the "My Family Found Me" page on the RR website.

I was so happy I started to cry (my little guy was worried, but happy once I told him the good news). What an answer to so many prayers.

Martin's family, today the thanks I give will be extra sweet because you have stepped out in faith to give Martin exactly what he needs, what all of us need--a family who loves us.

Today, I am basking in the spirit of gratitude that has no words. Tomorrow, we move forward to help this family with their journey to bring Martin home. I cannot wait to meet them...No, that is not true, I can wait. Today is a day to just give thanks.

Thank you God! Thank you all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Shopping in support of a good cause.

So "Black Friday" --purportedly the biggest shopping day of the year-- is just a few days away.

Lots of adopting families and Christmas Warriors are having fund raisers on their blogs. It is a great opportunity to get your Christmas shopping done and support the adoption of a child with Down Syndrome or other disability.

Maybe you need a cozy fleece blanket that would also help the Swerdfeger family bring Alyona home. The are scheduled to travel next week.

How about a Quillow (a combination quilt and pillow) from Megan, raising money for Sophia.

Pampered Chef, jewelry, t-shirts, and gift card and laptop give aways, there is something for everyone.

To see a list of fundraisers and links, go here.


$946 raised for Martin's Christmas Angel Tree Fund!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wow, lots more drops in Martin's bucket!

I had to go back and check three times during lunch today, because I could not believe my eyes, but it is true!

There is now $836 in Martin's Christmas Angel Tree Fund! Go here and see for yourself. You know you can't resist another look at the cute face; well, all those cute faces.

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed so far! I am so grateful for you and the help you are giving to this precious boy. Please drop me a comment or message, I would love to thank you in person.

We need to keep spreading the word about Martin and his need for a family, and we need to keep putting our drops into that bucket, so that when Martin's family finds him, they are not discouraged by the cost of his adoption. We need to keep praying.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Christian view of adoption: Redemption

Prior to my adoption, I did not know that there was a Christian view of adoption, but at my little guy's baptism, which took place at Mass, the first reading was from Paul's Letter to the Romans, and included:

"For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, 'Abba, Father!'" (Romans 8:15)

This was not specially selected for us, but was just the reading for the day from the three year cycle of readings of the Catholic Church. Coincidence? Hmmm.

Anyway, here is a link to a blog post that uses redemption lanugage in looking at adoption from a Christian perspective. Reece's Rainbow: In His Word it Says... Redemption I think it is worth reading.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Okay, this is a hard post for me to write. Last year, I was Robyn's Christmas Warrior. We raised $515 dollars for her and a family actually completed their home study, signed on with and paid an agency all in the hopes of adopting her.

So why is she back on the Angel Tree this year? One simple answer, money.

Robyn is living in an orphanage in a part of Eastern Europe that is very expensive to adopt from and, in the end, the family who wanted to bring her home just couldn't come up with the $30,000 to make that happen.

Now, the good news is that this wonderful family is bringing home an orphan with DS who is living somewhere else and whose adoption costs are lower. Very good news for another little girl. God bless this family who persevered, and will soon be bringing this other precious child home.

But Robyn is still waiting.

If Robyn had a sizeable grant, the family that started out to adopt her might have had her home by now.

Ever feel like a failure about something that was really important?

Down Syndrome, what you CAN do...

When people first think of bringing home a child with Down Syndrome, or other special needs, it can be kind of scary.

You know, in that terrifying, what-is-this-going-to-do-to-my-life, what-about-my-other-kids, what-am-I-thinking, what-about-me kind of way.

What better way to learn about what it is like to parent, be a sibling to, or live as a person with Down Syndrome than to listen to parents, siblings and people with DS who have btdt (been there done that)?

Face to face would be best, but second best might be this blog and book put together by a sister, and containing contributions from professionals and the real experts, parents, siblings and people with DS, all of whom have btdt.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some definitions in Adoption

I stole this from Meredith, who stole it from Lyndi, who stole it from Becky (no idea who that is...)

Natural Child: Any child who is not artificial.

Real Parent: Any parent who is not imaginary.

Your Own Child: Any child who is not someone else's child.

Adopted Child: A natural child, with a real parent, who is all my own.

~ November is Adoption Awareness Month!!! :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Will you be a Christmas Warrior for Martin?

Look at the side bar, this blog now has an official Christmas Warrior button for Martin!

Martin needs a lot of people to spread the word so that his forever family can find him.

He needs people to raise money, so that there is an adoption grant available to help his family bring him home, once they do find him.

He needs people to pray for him and for his family.

Will you help?

Will you spread the word about Martin? Will you help raise or contribute money to his adoption fund? Will you pray?

Will you be a Christmas Warrior for Martin?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How does this adoption grant thing work?

So, you may be wondering, how does this whole adoption grant thing work?

From the donor side, the funds are going directly to Reece's Rainbow, which is a 501(c)(3) corporation. RR holds the funds for Martin's adoption grant, and when a family commits to adopt Martin, the funds will be available to help offset the costs of Martin's adoption.

Does this mean that the money goes directly to Martin's prospective family? Nope, it does not. Does this mean the grant is available to cover all the costs of his adoption? No to that one too.

First of all, there are initial costs that the family must cover themselves, such as those for obtaining a home study and paying initial agency fees. The grant money is not available for those costs. In order to adopt internationally a family needs to meet certain income requirements and needs to have the financial ability to support another child, including having private health insurance. They do not need to be rich, but cannot be so financially precarious that they cannot afford at least some of the costs of adoption.

Second, adoption grant funds do not go directly to the family. The funds are disbursed to the family's adoption agency, and only after the dossier (huge amounts of paperwork required for international adoption) has been submitted to Martin's birth country and Martin's adoptive family has received a travel date.

Grants are placed on the CHILD, not on the family. This means that, if a family initially commits to a child, but is not able to complete the adoption process, the funds remain with the child.

What happens to the money, if the child is not adopted? I cannot even think of this as a possibility for Martin (it would make me cry), but if a child cannot be adopted, if the child is sent to a closed institution or dies, then RR applies those funds to an adoption grant for another child or children.

For more information visit the New Family and Family Sponsorship pages at

More drops in the bucket

Martin's Christmas Angel Tree fund is up to $135! That means we only need to raise another $865 to meet the Angel Tree goal of $1,000. How cool is that?

When the $135 is added to the money already raised for Martin's adoption grant, the entire amount available is up to $2,337! Yay!

Keep those drops coming, and you prayer warriors out there, don't forget to keep praying, and everyone keep spreading the word. We could raise all the money in the world, and if Martin's family doesn't know he is there, it won't do us any good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Drop in the Bucket: Two Boys, a Bucket of Coins and a Waiting Child

As promised, I am reporting back on how people are finding ways to fill Martin's Adoption Fund by adding their own drops to that big bucket.

This video shows how two boys gave the money they were saving for "something big" to Reece's Rainbow for Martin. While you are watching it, think about whether there are any drops you could add to Martin's bucket. Enjoy!

PS The boys only had $72 and change. Their Dad made up the rest.

PPS Why do you only see the typos after the video is created, downloaded and embedded?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Did you pick me?

Some people are great writers. They know what to say to bring tears to your eyes or laughter to your lips. I read something today that did both, so I wanted to share it.

I think that most adoptive parents have faced the question answered by this Adoptive Mom in her blog: "Did you pick me?" I always heard it with the emphasis on the word "pick." But say it to yourself with the emphasis on the word "me". Funny what a difference that makes, isn't it?

Next time my little one asks that question, I am going to hear it differently, and when he comes running into the kitchen in 5 minutes looking for the rest of his Halloween Candy, I am going to squeeze him a little tighter than usual.

Take a few minutes to click on the link below, and you'll read something by a great writer with a heart for adoption.

Now it is up to $105!

Happy, happy, happy! Lots of drops are falling into the bucket.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Martin has $60 in his Angel Tree Fund!

Someone (or perhaps 2 someones) contibuted to Martin's Angel Tree Fund, and...they don't live in this house!

I decided to check the RR site while the kids were busy fighting...uh, I mean getting ready for bed. As I scrolled down the rows of children needing families I silently said a prayer for each of them. I stopped when I got to Martin and there it was, money in his Angel Tree Fund!

I am so excited! Someone else is going to get to see his face hanging from their Christmas Tree, and (more importantly) the financial barriers to Martin's adoption are $60 lower than they were just a few hours ago. Perhaps most importantly, I know that someone else out there is loving and praying for this sweet child.

I am going to update the fundraising "thermometer" on the side of the blog. Thank you, whoever your are. I am going to say a special prayer for you tonight. Did I say thank you yet?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Martin's Christmas Warrior

The goal of the Christmas Angel Tree is to raise awareness of children who need families and to raise funds to create adoption grants for those children.

As part of this, RR has recruited Christmas Warriors for each child they are advocating for, and asks that the Christmas Warrior commit to raising at least $1,000 for their child's adoption fund.
You know I signed up to be Martin's Christmas Warrior. ;-)

Now, I have set a higher fund raising goal for Martin, because $1,000 is just a drop in the bucket compared to his adoption costs, but if we all put our little drops in the bucket, we can fill it and help to bring Martin home.

I know that somewhere out there, there is a family who meets all of his country's adoption requirements, and who has a heart for children with Down Syndrome. In all likelihood, that family is not rich. In this economy especially, that family may be hesitant to incur $30,000 in debt to bring Martin home. (Which of us wouldn't be?) They may be unable to obtain or carry that kind of debt. But, if we can get that bucket full of our little drops, then that huge financial barrier to Martin finding a family will disappear.

Over the next few days I am going to try to blog about some of the drops falling into Martin's bucket. Stay tuned!

To donate to Martin's Angel Tree fund, and get a picture ornament, click on the Christmas Tree Angel button on the blog or send a check to Reece's Rainbow. In either case, be sure to indicate that the donation is for Martin.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Christmas Tree Angel Project

Reece's Rainbow's annual Christmas Angel Tree Project begins today. It is RR's biggest and most important fundraiser of the year. All the younger orphans with Down syndrome (ages 0-5) that RR has identified and is trying to find families for are posted on one page so that people can sponsor and donate to the children's adoption grants.

The Christmas Angel Tree runs from November 1- December 31, 2010. When you donate $35 or more for a child, before December 15, you receive a beautiful photo ornament of your sponsored child to hang on your tree! These ornaments make fabulous gifts for friends, family, teachers, advocates, etc while providing a life-saving gift for the child who is in desperate need of a “forever family” of their own.

This is a very special way to “share Christmas” with an orphaned child, and to make it possible for other families to afford the high cost of rescuing them from orphanages and mental institutions around the world!

I am going to get a special "Christmas Warrior" button for the blog that will let you donate directly from here, but for now you can donate through paypay through the RR Christmas Tree Angel page here .

Just scroll down to find Martin's handsome face, click on the donate link, and remember to put Martin in the message area. If your heart is drawn to another child waiting for a family, feel free to put your money and prayers toward that child too.

Better yet, you can save the paypal fees and send a check directly to Reece's Rainbow at
Reece's Rainbow
P.O. Box 4024
Gaithersburg, MD 20885

Halloween and All Saints Day: Let's Focus on Our Heroes

Every year I am impressed by the juxtaposition of Halloween and All Saints Day. (For you non-Catholics, All Saints Day is the day the Church Militant--all of us still on the journey--celebrates the Church Triumphant--all of those who have gone before us, and are already with the Lord.)

Sure, I know that Halloween started out as All Hallows' Eve, but it still seems an odd combination of celebrations. I am not one for being really scared. As a kid, I used to have to leave the room for at least 2 scenes in the Wizard of Oz. So, I like to focus on the day after Halloween, All Saints Day, the day when we celebrate our heroes.

One of my heroes is Andrea Roberts, the founder and director of Reece's Rainbow. Andrea is not yet part of the Church Triumphant, she's still here on planet earth, but her life's work is none the less worth studying and supporting. It seems that I am not the only one who thinks so, as both the US Congress and People Magazine have honored her this year. (Yeah, I know, not exactly two organizations that leap to mind when you think of "saint" or "church triumphant".)

Andrea is the recipient of the 2010 Congressional Angels in Adoption Award,

and now is People Magazine's 2010 Readers' Choice Hero of the Year!

So, who are your heroes and what are they doing to change the world?

P.S. For all your wordsmiths out there, Yahoo reports that "heroes" is the correct spelling of the plural of hero, when you are talking about a person. "Heros" is the correct spelling when referring to one or more of the large sandwiches on long rolls, variously referred to by other regional names such as "hoagie," "sub" or "grinder."

P.P.S. For more about RR, see my earlier post or click on this link:Reece's Rainbow:">

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Martin Gets a Second Chance (and a big boy picture)

Martin was born on January 20, 2006. As a child with Down Syndrome living in an orphanage, his fate seemed sealed. Unless a family committed to adopt him before his 4th birthday, he would be transferred to a “mental institution”, and no child had ever been adopted from the institution in his region.

A miracle happened for Martin when he turned 4. Instead of being transferred to the mental institution on his 4th birthday, as sometimes happens when a baby house is short on room and resources, Martin’s transfer was delayed for several months. Then, when the transfer finally came, Martin was not sent to the institution. He was sent to an orphanage for older children!

How did this happen? We don’t know. Many people were praying for Martin. His pictures reveal an active and engaged child. Perhaps he was what is sometimes called an “orphanage favorite”. Certainly, there must be something special about this little boy that caused his baby house to fight for him to go to the older child orphanage. There must be something that caused that orphanage to accept him. Maybe it was just the Holy Spirit.

However it happened, Martin’s future remains open. He is living with typical children and, one hopes, getting some sort of schooling. Finding a family to love, cherish and parent him is still a possibility! Could you be that family? Please help to spread the word about Martin. I know his family is out there, they just don’t know it yet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reece's Rainbow

A friend and fellow adoptive mom pointed out that I was less than clear about where this money for Martin was going. Doh!

All donations go directly to Reece's Rainbow, for the benefit of Martin's Adoption Fund. The Chip-in is set up so that it will go straight to Reece's Rainbow. Of course, Chip-in does charge for this service, so if you want to send a donation directly to Reece's Rainbow by mail, that would be good too!

So what exactly is Reece's Rainbow? RR is an International Down Syndrome Orphan Ministry with the motto of "Adoption, Advocacy, Outreach and Aid." Long story short, it is a great organization started 5 years ago to advocate for children with Down Syndrome living in orphanages, to help them find adoptive families. In its first four years RR helped over 300 children with Down Syndrome and other disabilities move from orphanages into homes. More than 100 more children will find their forever families through RR in 2010!

RR is a not-for-profit United State's organization with 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, and is staffed solely by volunteers! What? That's right, from founder and guiding light Andrea Roberts on down, everyone involved does what they do without pay. Could your money possibly go to a more responsible charity? Please visit the RR Website to learn more.

From focusing almost exclusively on adoption, the organization has expanded to provide support to the children left behind. RR's newest venture, Connecting the Rainbow, is an attempt to put itself out of business. The Connecting the Rainbow ministry works with families in developing countries to help them parent their children with Down Syndrome.

I have so much more to tell you about RR, but this post is getting too long as it is. Please visit the websites and we'll talk more about this later.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yep, it really does get harder.

I could write some more about the conditions that await Martin as he gets older, but I have never been to Eastern Europe and have never witnessed those conditions first hand. Rather than speculate, I am providing links to two blogs of folks who have been there, so that you can get a first hand account.

The first blog is about a Christian group who visits children at an orphanage for older boys with disabilities in Eastern Europe. It descibes the conditions and actually contains videos of some of the children.

Romaniv Boys Orphanage | World Next Door

The second blog is that of an mom who has adopted two children with Down Syndrome from Eastern Europe, and is fund raising on behalf of a third child at such an insitution.

Jewels in My Crown: My heart. Yep, this is long...

Please take a look at these conditions, and then take a look at Martin. Think of him there. It breaks my heart. Does it break yours too? If it does, please think and pray about what you can do to help. Can you bring Martin home? Do you have a few dollars to spare to help another family bring him home? Can you pray for him?

Think about it. Pray about it. Then act upon it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Sad Future

In most Eastern European systems young children live in a “baby house”. At age 4 or 5 most are transferred to an orphanage for older children. Unfortunately, children with Down Syndrome and other disabilities are transferred to “mental institutions”. These facilities tend to be severely underfunded and understaffed. Food, medicine and stimulation are in short supply. Many children die within the first year of their transfer.

In some areas the institutions are closed places, so that the children who go there can never be adopted. Even in open institutions, adoption can be a long and arduous process. Such places simply are not used to the idea that anyone would want a “sick” child.

The idea of any child being condemned to such a place is difficult to bear. We think that it must not be true. Things cannot really be that bad. But would any of us allow our child to go there? Should we allow any child to go there? The thought of Martin ending up lost and forgotten in such a place is breaking my heart.

The worst of such institutions are well documented. To see a video of children tied to cribs, covered with filth, check this link:

To read a more positive, but still hard, description of an institution in another Eastern European country, by an American family who was there just a few weeks ago, check this link:

If you can stand more, the below are also from people who have witnessed such institutions first hand:

If nothing changes, if no family comes forward to bring Martin home, such a mental institution will be his future.

This is where the rubber hits the road and why we need to find Martin's family and raise the funds that will prevent the financial cost from being a barrier to his adoption.

It costs about $30,000 to bring a child from Martin's country to a home in the United States. Right now Martin has $2,181 in his grant fund.

You can make a tax deductible contribution to Martin's grant fund with Reece's Rainbow by sending a check to that 501(c)(3) organization or by clicking on the ChipIn button on the side of this blog and indicating that the donation is for Martin.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Where is Martin's birth family?

I do not know why Martin’s first family could not parent him themselves, but I do know that most parents in his country do not raise their children who are born with disabilities.

In the place where Martin was born, parents are advised to place such children with the state or abandon them in the hospital. Their births are viewed as shameful. There are few educational and therapy programs for them when they are young, and almost no employment or housing options for them when they reach adulthood.

Knowing that there is very little opportunity for their children at home, some parents actively seek out adoptive families for their children from the United States, Canada and those Western European countries, like Ireland, which allow international adoption of children with Down Syndrome.

Attitudes toward people with disabilities in Martin’s country are not so different from what they may have been here in the United States 50 years ago. In some ways, they are not so different from the attitudes presented to women whose children are diagnosed in utero with Down Syndrome and other disabilities in this country today. It is estimated that 90% of the children in the US today who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome prenatally are aborted. Remembering that should help to keep us from feeling smug.

To learn more about the high rate of abortion for children who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome prenatally try the following links:

To learn more about the realities facing children born with disabilities in Eastern Europe, stay tuned to this blog. The details will follow, and they won't be pretty.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meet Martin

Let me introduce you to Martin. It is not his real name, of course. But he is a real boy, and this is his real picture, his real face, as I first saw it just over a year ago.

Martin lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe. He was born with Down Syndrome and a heart defect, that has since been surgically repaired.

I started this blog to advocate for Martin, to try to find a family who can parent him, can raise him, can be his everyday getting dressed, eating breakfast, wiping tears, reading stories and giving goodnight kisses family. Because it is very expensive to bring home a child from Martin’s country, this blog will also be used to raise money to offset the cost of Martin’s adoption.

Financial donations can be made to Reece’s Rainbow, a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization that advocates for the adoption of children with special needs, and Down Syndrome in particular, and works to help families of children with disabilities parent their children. Reece’s Rainbow will use donations to fund a grant for Martin’s adoption. You can learn more about Reece’s Rainbow by clicking on this link or the Reece’s Rainbow button on the side of this blog.

In the coming weeks I will blog more about Martin and his plight. Stick around and you just might fall in love.