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.