Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A kick to the gut

This afternoon I received a message from the person responsible (Julia Nalle) for us finding Rebecca.  She is in contact with the facilitator that handles adoptions in the region we are going.
We had been told that the directer of the orphanage Rebecca was at fought for her to be transferred to a good place.  A decent place - if that truly exists.  Today Julia received a message regarding our daughter.  This is that message:

"Hello! Julia I found information about Rebecca's orphanage. She is in a village, in _________ region. Her orphanage is not very good, I can say that it's a very bad. They have never had adoption there. They don't have money even for medicine for children, I am very happy that Rebecca will have a family and I hope that they will come soon and take her from that terrible place"

  I can not tell you how sick I suddenly feel inside.  We knew she was transferred.  We knew it wouldn't be as great of a place that she had come from.  We hoped it was nice.  We prayed it was adequate at minimum.  I feel sad.  Angry.  Why??  Would God allow her to be put in a place that is labeled at "terrible" by someone who has experience knowing "terrible"?  
I don't even have words.  I would like to please beg and plead for prayers for Rebecca.  Pray she is safe, cared for.  I don't want her sweet spirit to be crushed.  Pray that our paperwork gets finished quickly.  Pray we get the necessary money needed to go get her.  I'm so overwhelmed with worry and sadness right now.  

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cost of a life

I thought people might be interested in knowing exactly what the costs are to adopt a child from Eastern Europe.  Where does the money go?
Unfortunately money is an obstacle that prevents many families from considering adoption.  Lets face it, it is expensive.  Ridiculously so.
We as a family live a comfortable but not elaborate lifestyle.  We get by each month with not much extra but enough to cover bills and meet our needs.  In all honesty we will have a very hard time coming up with and saving the approx. $28,000 needed for an adoption.
I believe we are being called to adopt Rebecca.   We have a loving and ready home with good health insurance and a warm bed for her.  We have emptied our savings and given every extra penny we have to her adoption and will continue to do so.  That still leaves us very short.  We need help.    Prayer is critical and we rely on that, prayers for our family and for Rebecca.   People can also spread our blog around, click on the "donate" button on the right side of the blog or cash/checks can be sent to us at:
2162 52nd Ave.
Zeeland, MI  49464
The more people that read about our journey the more people that can pray or contribute.  The last way people can help is by donating to our adoption.  This is difficult to ask for.  Asking for money is NOT fun, it is NOT easy.  But the reality is that we can NOT bring Rebecca home without that help.

Here is the breakdown of our expenses for her adoption:
Homestudy fees:   $1600 - Paid!
Post-placement reports - $1100
Reece's Rainbow Voice of Hope fund - $250 - Paid!
Reece's Rainbow application fee - $25 - Paid!
USCIS (fees to pay the US gov. to approve our adoption) - $702 - Paid!
Biometric fingerprints - $255 -Paid!
Marriage Certificates - $176 - Paid!
Passport Renewal - $220 - Paid!
Local police clearance - $125 - Paid!
FBI police clearance - $30 - Paid!
First documents sent to country - $124 - Paid!
Additional postage - $200
Appostille fees - $275
Adoption Facilitator fees - $9400 ($900 paid upfront, the balance due in country)
Airfare to country - $5000 - depending on number of trips needed
Living expenses in country for 5 wks - $4000
Travel in country - $900
Child's medical appt. for Visa - $220
Child's Visa application - $325
Child's passport fees - $500
Child's airfare home - $800
Misc. expenses -$1000
Total estimated costs:  $27,227.00

Sunday, January 17, 2016

For those who are curious about Thad's perspective in all this - here is what he wrote on Facebook regarding Rebecca.

Dear Friends.

This note will be a little longer than usual.  But the subject matter deserves a little more time and attention.

Around the middle of November of 2015, Lorene came to me and said she’d unexpectedly come across a blog post.   It described a little girl with Down syndrome who would be “aging out” of her orphanage.    For those who are not familiar with this term, it means that they have been given their chance to be “found", and will be transferred to an adult facility.    It varies by country and state, but is usually around the age of 5.    It can and has been overlooked by government officials and orphanage directors in order to extend the possibility that the child might find a family.  Inevitably, however, for many, the end comes, and they are transferred.   “Typical” children go to group homes, and physically disabled and cognitively impaired go to “invalid homes” or “adult mental institutions”.    At the age of 5-12 their world instantly becomes astonishingly difficult.

In both cases (healthy or impaired), with very few exceptions, these “homes" are prisons.   Children learn very quickly to fight for their food, fend off abuse by other children, and learn to fear the care takers.   Physical abuse, malnutrition, sexual abuse, and general neglect are common.   “Adult mental institutions” - the type of place they would send my daughters Sienna and Ember, are several shades worse.   Often they are merely kept alive in order to drive the membership counts up to get more money from the government.    Money that should be spent on their care, but sadly is used as basic life support only.   

But this is a tired old story.  We’ve all heard it.  We are all weary of hearing it.  Documentaries occasionally pop up explaining it.   Occasionally someone sneaks in and escapes back out with video showing the atrocities.  And I, like you, go about my life consumed by the little battles that gobble up my day.  Most of them just the tedious process of keeping everything running smoothly, but few of them of real importance. 

So when this girl came to my attention I was not in the realm of thinking about expanding my family.   As some of you know, the last 6 years have been a lesson in emotional survival.  Our daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome at birth,  my dad was killed 8 months after moving here to be close to us and her, before we could tell him we’d just committed to adopting  Ember - a huge journey in and of itself, and nearly losing my wife to a stroke 2 years after that.   I was (and am) thoroughly content with how no major events have come to my doorstep to deal with.  I guess God figured I’d been sitting still long enough….

So last year I briefly posted her image here, and with the exception of one, everyone thought she was Sienna.   I found that rather profound, to be honest.  I thought this myself when I first saw her, and of course it naturally caused me to take a longer look.    It was an experiment, I suppose, to put up her image.   How would people react to this orphan that seemed to be reaching straight into my heart the instant I saw her?  Some will say this coincidence….but to me, it is more than that.    I don’t spend time whiling away the hours looking for orphans that look like Sienna to adopt.    I don’t spend ANY time looking over orphans.   I "did my part" in 2011, one of my most difficult but proudest achievements, and had moved on.   I can tell you, that Lorene had by and large done the same, and although she has kept in better contact with the people at Reeces Rainbow and has watched more children go through the system, she, like me, was not seeking to expand our family.  And then Rebecca’s file hit our desk.  From somewhere out of the blue.   

For two months Lorene and I prayed and agonized and analyzed the possibility that God was again asking us to adopt.  All the while knowing that Rebecca was now in an adult mental institution in unknown conditions - an 11 year old girl in a country and culture that looks at Down syndrome as a disease best hidden away.   While we struggled over this decision, she waits.   We prayed that someone else would step up.  We proffered our funds to the cause.   And nothing changed.  There she waits 1000’s of miles away.  Here we sat, trying to slip back into our comfortable routines and trying to come up with reasons why would shouldn’t, why we couldn’t adopt.    We sought council and heard many opinions about how it would positively or negatively impact our lives, impact our children, the short term and long term futures.  While many points against adopting her were fair, none of them ever stood up to walking away from a child who we felt was uniquely calling out to us.   Who with each passing day was becoming our daughter in our hearts.   A profound and real transformation by the Holy Spirit.

So after 60 days of tears and arguments and discussions, we decided to step out in faith, afraid, and yet full of joy and with hearts full of hope and an amazing certainty that she is now our daughter.  

We reached out and claimed her for Christ.   And we would be humbled if you would join and help us on our journey.

  • Thad and Lorene

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one's youth. 
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” - A Psalm

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

He whispered

It has been a long time since I have been to this dusty blog of mine.  As a quick update - everyone is doing great.  Ember continues to grow and thrive.  She is full of personality for her little size!  A constant stream of questions are asked by her daily.  She had pretty major surgery this summer and spent most of her summer in casts on both legs.  She finally was able to start walking again and right before Christmas she fell at school and broke her femur!  Ouch!  She is back in a cast and wheelchair until at least the end of January.  She somehow is still one of the most positive and happy individuals that I know.  She is a gift for sure.
This update however is not about Ember.  I am not sure how to even start with this.  Our life is good.  We are busy, content, settled.  We certainly don't need anything else on our plate!  In December I was reading through the blogs of fellow adoptive families like I always do.  I have read them for the past 4 years and have never been affected like I was that day.  I read this post on Julia Nalle's blog.
I followed the link to Rebecca.  I watched this video.  I felt crushed.  There is no other way to describe it.  I cried and couldn't get her out of my mind.  At that point I asked Thad to take a look at the video and to please pray for Rebecca and to pray that a family finds her.
God was whispering to us.  Both us fervently prayed daily that a family would step up.  At that same time we also each felt so drawn to her.  We talked lightly about adding her to our family but we just weren't ready to accept that we were being asked to do that.  We don't have the means to pay the ridiculous costs it takes to save a child like this.  God kept at us.  We began thinking that maybe we were meant to be her family.  It is a terribly scary thought for us.  Don't get me wrong - we have plenty of love for her.  We would love to just scoop her up tomorrow and wrap our arms around her and love her forever.  We want to protect her.  To keep her warm.  To comfort her.  The task of getting from where we are today and the point where we get to hold her is daunting.  It is a mountain. We are listening to that whisper however.  We are trusting God to make this possible.  It is a miracle that she was brought to our attention.  It is a miracle that we heard a quiet whisper telling us "she is yours".  Our God is a God of miracles and it will be a miracle when we get to hold our new daughter.