Tuesday, July 19, 2016


It has been a long time since I've blogged. Our sweet princess V has been home just about 6 months now, and things are going incredibly well. She is blossoming, we all adore her, and life is good. I'll update more on her later.

Despite how incredibly well everything has gone, this has been one of the most exhausting times in our life. There are many factors, but it boils down to the fact that even incredibly amazing change is still stressful.

About the 5 month mark I became exhausted. A lot of it had to do with the fact that I made several trips with V within a short time period, and had to leave the other kids at home. Another big part was the sheer weight of all of the medical and educational decisions that we've made in the last 6 months. I was done. I needed rest. I was worn.

On the way home from the most recent trip, the song Worn came on. I thought - "Oh man, I need this song! I'm so worn!" I love this song. I've felt so worn many times, and it has always ministered to me.

I turned it up and sang along. "I'm tired, I'm worn... I know that you can give me rest...."

And then the chorus came on.

"Let me see redemption win,
let me know the struggle ends,
that you can mend a heart that's frail and worn.
I wanna know a song can rise from the ashes of a broken life"

And that's when I saw it. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I looked back into the back seat, and saw her  sitting there with a drink and bag of M&Ms, like a normal little girl. A child who couldn't feed herself 6 months ago sitting in the back seat of the car feeding herself the snack that she picked out by herself at the store.

I saw living, breathing proof that redemption wins. A heart learning to mend. Her smile is a testament to the song rising from a once broken life.

If you're in the trenches right now, if life has you bogged down, if there seems to be no end in sight, let me tell you this: redemption wins. Love wins. God wins.

I often think about how perfectly V fits into our family and how impossible it would've been for us to have found her. Only God could've led us to a specific little girl in an orphanage in a little village in a country we knew very little about. Only God could've chosen a child who fits so wonderfully into our family. Only God can bring the level of healing and learning that we've seen in V in the last 6 months. Only God could redeem her life in an institution and make it new, and He did. She may not have everything in the world, but she is free, she is loved deeply, and she has a bright future.

We serve a God of redemption.

In a world filled with darkness, redemption still wins.

If you every doubt it, remember V. She shows us what redemption looks like every day.

Thank you God for redeeming us all.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How far we've come

Last night, I was sitting on the couch, and my precious L, my princess, walked across the room to where I was sitting and crawled up into my lap. It led me to start reflecting on just how far we've come in the last 5 years. While we have made a purposeful decision to seek out a child with special needs for this adoption, our initial plunge into special needs parenting was quite accidental. We have all come a long way since then.

Our princess L is 5 1/2 now. Initially there were no signs that she might have special needs - no risk factors, no alarming tests, just the realization at about 6 months old that she wasn't developing properly. Up until that point in my life, I was very focused on worldly success and achievements - on DOING. I thought you made your impact on this world by what you did.

Princess L didn't do much for a long time. She was over a year old when she sat up for the first time, close to 3 when she began walking. It was a long road. She wasn't very responsive to us for a very long time - she didn't care when we left her in the church nursery, she didn't reach for us when we went to pick her up - she was in her own world. She has gradually come into our world, but it has been a long process. Sometime in the last year, she has started seeking out affection. We waited so long for it, her affection is the greatest treasure in the world. So last night, as I sat there with her, soaking it up, I reflected on how far we've come. She has made so many incredible strides, but it's not really her that I was thinking about - it's me. This little 5 year old princess has turned my view of life on it's head. Last night, doing something completely ordinary to the average person, I had a profound thought: I used to think that the way to impact the world around you is by DOING, but the reality is, it's about who you ARE.

Think on that for a minute.

You don't change the world by DOING, you change it by BEING.

Sure, we need to DO good, but the doing comes from who we ARE, not the other way around. We can free ourselves from the American way of constantly needing to GO and DO and DO SOME MORE if we can really grasp this thought. We can rest in the fact that we are enough - without the perfect house, car, manicure, career... we are still enough. We can just BE, and let the love flow out from there. Our DOING needs to be a reflection of our BEING. It really lifts a weight off my shoulders to know that it's okay that I'll never be able to do it all, and I can still impact the world around me. God has a plan for each of us. Sometimes it may not seem as big as you want it to be, but remember, it's not always about how much you DO. Sometimes it's about who you ARE in your every day life.

The value of a life isn't measured by IQ or ability. It isn't measured by achievements or worldly standards. God has a purpose for every life.

I am so thankful to have such a precious princess that radiates love and goodness, and is such an incredible teacher. She doesn't even need words.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Ways to support our adoption (LOTS of them are FREE)

Ways to support our adoption:

FREE ways to help:

  • Give us your stinky old shoes! - We are collecting shoes to be reused in developing nations through an entrepreneurship program. Our goal is 10,000 pairs, so it is a God-sized goal and we need your help! This program has BIG potential to pay it forward: our adoption grant receives 40 cents per pound for the shoes, an entrepreneur is set up to sell them and earn a living wage, and low cost shoes are available to people in need. 
    • Even better: talk to your work or church and set up a box! If you'll watch it and let us know when it's full, we'll come collect them! We have a HUGE goal to meet, and we need your network too!
    • Help us check the current drop offs and bring us shoes when they overflow. Since we do not live in town, this is an especially big help!
    • Current drop offs are: Lumbermart and Stage in Guymon, the Methodist Student Center and Church of Christ Student Center in Goodwell, Mills in Hooker, and the Post Office in Adams. Shoes can be any size or style, and need to be in fair condition. And if you really want to be on our good list, tie the laces of the pairs together or bag them with all of your pairs together (plastic grocery bags are awesome - it doesn't take long to pair the few shoes in a bag) 

  • Make a craft or donate an item for our upcoming online auction. Do you have an unopened gift from last Christmas, or an unused gift certificate sitting around? Pass it on to us and we'll add it to our auction! If you donate something from your business, we'll make sure to plug your business in the auction. We are open to just about anything - great used clothes, handmade items, items from your business (Avon, DoTerra, Mary Kay, etc), books, gift cards, home decor - whatever you have that will sell! But please hurry - we hope to start the auction right after Thanksgiving! .

  • Share our posts! Share, share, share! We cannot successfully raise the funds to bring Antoinette home without reaching outside our immediate circle of friends! Share our GoFundMeReece's Rainbow, and Facebook pages. Share our story with friends at church or work and direct them to one of our pages. Tell them how to help, or at least how to pray for us! You never know who will be able to help, or who will be touched by the plight of orphans. A HUGE part of our mission is to touch others so that they might be led to step up for orphans here and abroad, whether by giving, adopting, fostering, or supporting adoptive families in other ways. 

  • PRAY: This is seriously the most important! We NEED prayer! This journey is crazy, exhausting, joyful, and costs WAY more money than we have. We NEED God to do mighty things in our lives in order to make this adoption happen. And that is just the very beginning of this journey! When we get her home, we will be navigating attachment and bonding, medical issues, institutional behaviors, educational challenges, emotional challenges, etc. That is just for Antoinette! The rest of the family will be adjusting too! We will be in over our heads for a long time, and we need prayer. I am so excited to see how God will work in our lives during this time.

  • Provide post-adoption support. Here is the secret that you don't know unless you are an adoptive parent (particularly of an older &/or traumatized child): Adoptive parenting is HARD. It will take you to the ends of yourself. It really is just hard. And it doesn't get better anytime soon. The behaviors and responses that have been ingrained for years don't just go away. The trauma that the child has endured is carved into their heart and requires lots of intervention to heal. (The science behind the way trauma changes the brain will blow your mind!) Any family who adopts or fosters a traumatized child desperately needs support. And not for a month or two! For YEARS! Ways to provide support: (These apply to almost ALL adoptive and foster parents!)
    • Bring a meal post-adoption (the first few months will be chaotic!), or while we are traveling and have caregivers in our place.
    • Help with childcare for our kids currently in the home both during our travel and after the adoption. Even taking them to a movie for the afternoon so they have a break from the chaos that a new sibling inevitably brings!
    • Tutor one of the oldest 3 in a subject in school.
    • Love on the kids, especially the ones currently in our home. They will be experiencing chaos and upheaval. Give them some extra attention.
    • Do NOT love on Antoinette unless we give you permission. Don't get me wrong: I am DYING for this little girl to be LOVED ON by ALL of the people who are supporting this adoption. I want her to see and feel that love! But for bonding purposes, her cuddling, hugs, and care needs to be handled by immediate family only. Right now she has no idea what a mommy, daddy, brothers, and sister are. Once that is firmly in her head, THEN, please LOVE ON THAT GIRL! We will let you know when it is safe for her emotionally to be loved on by people outside of immediate family!
    • Run an errand for us.
    • Come over for an afternoon, a couple of hours, a day, (whatever works for you) and be a "mother's helper." For the first few months, Antoinette will need to be by my side at all times, which means it will be more difficult to do laundry, cook, clean, teach the big boys, etc. Come over and lend a hand - even if it's just playing with the little ones so I can get something done! (As a bonus, this option allows you to hang out with the CUTEST kids ever!) Warning: DO NOT choose this option if you will judge me by how dirty my house is! Hahahaha
    • Have little girl clothes and toys? If they will work for Antoinette, send them over! When the adoption is completed, we will have exhausted our savings and be facing a mountain of medical bills at the exact time that we add a new child who will need diapers, a wardrobe, toys, etc. (Most of this we can't prepare in advance because we don't know what size she is!) Maybe your kiddo's old stuff can ease our burden! 
    • An adoption shower would be a CRAZY blessing! EVERY family that adopts should have an adoption shower thrown for them! Older kids are even more expensive than babies and deserve to be celebrated too! (I'm not saying this to ask for stuff, I'm listing it because I want to see other adoptive parents get one!!)
    • Once she is well-bonded, babysit Antoinette for us. Dealing with difficult behaviors 24/7 is hard. Respite is amazing. And needed.
    • Ask what we need. And mean it. And do it. In our case, we hate asking for help, so we'll probably tell you that we don't need anything. We will appreciate the gesture though! And then you can refer to the list above and just do something (because we probably really will need it!)
    • If you are going to be in her life consistently (family, friends, Sunday School teacher, teacher in school) research the impacts of trauma on a child's brain so you can understand what we are up against! Dr. Karen Purvis is doing incredible work healing children from trauma, and we will be following her techniques. Look into TBRI! (Or ask us! We'll tell you about it!)
    • Don't forget that respite, love, and help is needed for a long time - this is not like having a baby, where you heal and get back to normal after 6 weeks. It will take YEARS to heal Antoinette's heart. We will be in the trenches for YEARS. Don't forget about us in a few weeks. Join the team. Help us change her life.

Ways to financially help:
  • Give a little bit! SERIOUSLY, $5 or $10 HELPS! 
  • Want to make a bigger impact but feel like you can't? Give $5 a couple of times over the course of the adoption. Or issue a challenge to your Facebook friends: you'll give $5 if someone else will match you. Or hey, be crazy... you'll paint your face, shave your head, grow your beard (or something equally crazy) if they will collectively donate a certain amount of money.
  • If you are blessed and able to give more, consider making it a matching grant. Many people LOVE to give to matching grants because their money is doubled. Son not only will you be helping by giving, but you'll be doubling your impact! Any amount can be a matching grant, but amounts over $100 are best.
The scoop on financial giving:
  • Reece's Rainbow is an organization that helps families raise money for special needs international adoption. 
    • They are a 501c3 non-profit, so any money sent via them is tax-deductible to you.
    • They do NOT keep a percentage of the donation.
    • PayPal DOES take 3% of all donations done online, so consider sending a check (write our name in the memo or include a note). However, if the convenience of paying online is an incentive, by all means, pay online! (Personally, it would be a hassle for me to dig out the checkbook and mail a check. So I understand!)
    • They ONLY disperse the money to us for adoption related expenses, and will not disperse anything until we receive travel dates.
    • The travel agent that we will be working with can bill them directly for our airfare, so it is our goal to get enough in this account to cover our airfare.
    • Donate or share the page at: www.reecesrainbow.org/sponsoroden 
  • GoFundMe is a well known giving platform. We created it because a lot of people are comfortable with ig.
    • GoFundMe keeps 5% of the donations and PayPal keeps 3%. So that's a chunk. But if you're more comfortable with GoFundMe, go for it!
    • We have access to the money from GoFundMe almost immediately, so it can be used for expenses prior to travel.
    • You can donate or share the page at: https://www.gofundme.com/nw7czvxc 
  • Money given directly to us is placed in a separate bank account that we only use for adoption expenses. If you give me a check and it's not made out to me, I'll send it to Reece's Rainbow to go into our grant account so that it is tax-deductible for you. 
  • We only have one more fee to pay prior to travel, and that will be taken care of from our personal savings this week.
  • We have paid (or having in savings ready to pay) almost 1/2 of the adoption ourselves (which is a testament to God moving mountains!) We are fundraising to finish it up: the bulk of the adoption expenses will be incurred when we travel for the 1st trip.
  • Money is due as we go. If we have not raised enough money for both trips, we can fundraise between trips, but we REALLY don't want to have to do this! We'll have a lot to focus on and prepare without fundraising!
The 2 burning questions (I think) most people want/need to know: 

Why did we wait so late in the process to fundraise heavily? Quite frankly, we have hit every roadblock or delay possible. This adoption has taken twice as long as it should and there were a couple of times in the process we weren't sure if we could complete it. So we chose to wait to fundraise until it was a sure thing. We wanted to be very careful to honor the financial contributions of our supporters. Fortunately, God has done great things in enabling us to pay for almost half of the adoption from personal funds, so we haven't needed to fundraise until the end.

What happens if we can't raise the funds? We will NOT wait to travel. We will take out a loan. But this is a VERY BAD financial option for us. When Antoinette comes home, we will immediately incur thousands of dollars in medical bills. AND, each of those bills will come with the expense of driving almost 300 miles each way to the multiple specialist visits. Don't get me wrong, we are 100% okay with these medical expenses - we signed up for this when we committed to the adoption. But if we come home with a substantial adoption loan and add thousands of dollars in medical bills to that, the outcome will be devastating. We know that bringing home a child who will need life-long care is not a good financial decision, but her life is worth the sacrifice. We will provide for her. But we need help getting her home, so we are more capable of making these sacrifices for her and getting her the best medical care possible. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Big news!

It's been awhile since I've updated the blog. If you want up to the minute updates, check us out on Facebook!

Yesterday was a very exciting day! We were notified yesterday morning that our dossier was submitted!!! WOOHOO! The rest of our documents had just made it into the hands of the facilitation team on Wednesday afternoon (their time), so we were pretty surprised that it was submitted so quickly! In fact, there was one document that we thought we might need to tweak and re-do, but it was great! Of course, 95% of the dossier had been there for at least a couple of weeks (this was the 3rd batch to send over) so they had everything ready to go.

The next step is receiving travel dates! That will be very exciting! We can expect to receive dates in 3-4 weeks, although sometimes it takes more or less time. The family that was submitted before us received their dates fast, so we may not have a whole lot of time left! This is SUPER EXCITING except for the fact that we are still $14,000 short. This is pretty scary. We have several fundraisers in the works - one of them fell through, so we need big prayers for us as we try to raise this money in a short amount of time!

Why did we wait so late in the process to fundraise heavily? Quite frankly, we have hit every roadblock or delay possible. This adoption has taken twice as long as it should and there were a couple of times in the process we weren't sure if we could complete it. So we chose to wait to fundraise until it was a sure thing. We wanted to be very careful to honor the financial contributions of our supporters. Fortunately, God has done great things in enabling us to pay for almost half of the adoption from personal funds, so we haven't needed to fundraise until the end.

What happens if we can't raise the funds? We will NOT wait to travel. We will take out a loan. But this is a VERY BAD financial option for us. When Antoinette comes home, we will immediately incur thousands of dollars in medical bills. AND, each of those bills will come with the expense of driving almost 300 miles each way to the multiple specialist visits. Don't get me wrong, we are 100% okay with these medical expenses - we signed up for this when we committed to the adoption. But if we come home with a substantial adoption loan and add thousands of dollars in medical bills to that, the outcome will be devastating. We know that bringing home a child who will need life-long care is not a good financial decision, but her life is worth the sacrifice. We will provide for her. But we need help getting her home, so we are more capable of making these sacrifices for her and getting her the best medical care possible. 

Please prayerfully consider contributing to help us get her home. You may do so via GoFundMe or Reece's Rainbow (tax-deductible for you!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A piece of my heart... a new fundraiser

Adoption is a long, grueling, expensive journey. Many people have walked this journey with us, even if just from afar. Many times I have been to the point of questioning whether or not we can really make this happen. And every time, I have been encouraged from someone. God is working through YOU, each and every one of our supporters.

We are down to the end. All of the approvals are in place, it's just minor paperwork from here on out. We still need our approval from her government and to pass court, of course, but I have faith in our facilitation team, who has painstakingly combed through our documents to make sure everything will go smooth with the government and judge. 

I'm excited about this new fundraiser. It is designed to honor YOU, the tribe that is helping us get our little girl home. The people who are helping us save her life. YOU. Yes, YOU are part of saving her life - you really and truly are. We are just part of this adoption, we are not all of it. Without your words of encouragement, prayers, giving, and help with fundraisers, there would be no adoption. We just can't do it on our own. We need God and we need support. 

So here is how we want to honor you:
We will be putting this design on the wall over Antoinette's bed in vinyl. It is over 2 feet tall, so it will be the focal point of the room. For a $10 donation to our Reece's Rainbow grant fund (preferred) www.reecesrainbow.org/sponsoroden or our GoFundMe account https://www.gofundme.com/nw7czvxc, we will put your name or message on one of the hearts. (Just message me after you donate with what you want on it) I hope to see this full, as a daily reminder of all of those people who love Antoinette. We want to see names of prayer warriors, donors, advocates, and friends. I hope to see it full - each heart a reminder of a heart that Antoinette's story has touched. And through the power of the group, if we fill the tree, we will be MUCH closer to fully funded!

We are nearing the end and still $14,000 short. That is a LOT of money. I won't lie, I'm panicking a little, even though I know that God is in control. It's scary. We have stepped out of the boat and are on the water, now we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and trust Him to get us to the other side. $14,000 is a lot of money, but to Him who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills, it is pocket change. Please join us. Please be part of this - great things are going to happen through this adoption, I can feel it.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Approval (again)

SO, Monday it OFFICIALLY came. We received our USCIS approval! This is the last approval needed on this side of the ocean. I knew it was coming last week - I had called USCIS, and they confirmed that it was on it's way.  Here's the funny thing though - there was part of me that was still a little bit surprised.

To me, the word "approval" is a scary word. Every step of the way I have been extremely stressed when we face another approval. You see, I have this picture of adoptive parents as completely perfect parents. They have to be perfect to pass all of those inspections and stuff, right? And part of this picture of perfection is the perfect looking mom wearing the cardigan and heels while effortlessly maintaining an immaculate house while her rich husband golfs. Yeah, I definitely don't fit that picture.

So here I sit, midway through our second adoption, having received another approval, wondering when the heck I became perfect enough that someone would actually approve me to raise a beautiful, priceless treasure.  Maybe I seem a little crazy for thinking that. On the other hand, maybe other parents in the process or considering adoption worry about this and I can voice their fears. I hope that sharing this little bit of myself will ease the stress for someone else.

I am a broken person. Each day God lovingly glues a little piece back together, but I will always remain broken. Really, all of us are broken. I don't know a single person who hasn't felt loss or pain in their lives. And who is better to raise a broken, scared child than a broken person who has been put back together? Who better to sit down with them in their pain than someone who has lived through pain? You and I, the broken people who God has glued back together, we have power: the power to show that brokenness is beautiful, that the masterpiece created when the pieces are glued back together is amazing, and that redemption is available to us all - especially the broken.

So today I will proudly say: I will never fit in, my house will never be a showplace, my kids will never show up to church in matching outfits. I will never have it all together. I will spend my days devoting my energy, talent, and drive to my children. Many people would think that isn't enough, that I am wasting my abilities by not having a career. In reality, most days I feel unworthy of this tremendous calling that I have to raise this family. Many people would judge me because since I'm a SAHM I should have a perfect house and perfectly dressed children. But I do not.

I will never be the perfect mom that I feel I should be to survive the adoption process unscathed. But here I sit, having once again had my background, parenting skills, finances, medical history, and every other aspect of my life combed through, and I still heard the beautiful word "approved."  Because these children, these beautiful treasures, they need REAL parents, not perfect parents. They need parents willing to walk with them through their pain, to tell them it's ok to be different, to buck the system, to move heaven and earth just to get them home. Sure, matching outfits every Sunday and an immaculate house would be nice. But what these kids REALLY need is fierce, tenacious parents who are willing to lay down their standards, lay down their pride, and sacrifice financial gain in order to love these children. They need parents who will devote themselves to healing their broken hearts. It is often hard, expensive, thankless work. At the same time it is incredible, joyful, rewarding work. These are God's children, and healing their hearts is God's work. And there is nothing more important than that. 

The best part is this: We can ALL be part of it! When you adopt, foster, provide respite, financially support an adoption, or provide support for a foster or adoptive family, you are PART of God's work in these children's lives.

If you would like to financially contribute to bringing our princess home, you may make a tax-deductible donation at: www.reecesrainbow.org/sponsoroden

Or you may contribute to our GoFundMe account at:   https://www.gofundme.com/nw7czvxc   

Every little bit helps and we are so thankful for it all!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Special Needs Parenting Part 2: Broken Hearted

I'm continuing with the story of WHY we chose special needs adoption. If you haven't read it yet, check out part one here.

I started this series by telling you about when we learned that our princess L has special needs, and how it affected us.  As time went on, we began to embrace our new life.  Life went on, as it always seems to do; and our family continued to grow.  One son joined our family through guardianship (we were later able to adopt him) and then we had another son.  We moved to a rural area to be near my family, and our children thrived. Everyone was happy and healthy.

There are moments when life turns on a dime, and your entire life changes in an instant.  I had one of these moments in the middle of an ordinary day.  I was killing time on Facebook, like I do all too often.  I ran across a blog post that a friend had shared, and I read it.  The blog has been taken down since then, but I'll never forget it.  This post gutted me.  An adoptive mom talked about their process to adopt a little boy with Down Syndrome in Eastern Europe and the conditions that he lived in.  She talked about how he was starving and neglected, how the judge wanted to block the adoption because of the belief that a child with DS wasn't worth adopting.  She discussed the fact that in many countries children are sent to orphanages just because they are born with special needs.  Entire societies believe that it's BETTER for a special needs child to grow up in an orphanage because they will never amount to anything. At the time she was adopting, the judge didn't even want to allow the adoption because he believed that the child with Down Syndrome wasn't worth it and she needed to adopt a "normal" child.  It was like a punch in the gut.  All I could see was my daughter - how would she be seen through their eyes?  How would that judge, that society, that mindset see my precious daughter?

I shared with my husband, who was as shocked as me.  We began to pray and research.  My ongoing prayer was "Lord, what can we DO?"  This is going on in many, many countries.  The problem is more complicated than just "they don't want these kids".  Poverty, poor access to medical care, and few support systems are all factors that play into this.  We are blessed in America - our disabled children receive services through public early intervention programs and public schools.  Almost every community has a support network for parents nearby, and many places have educational programs for parents.  And if a parent is impoverished and has no access to medical care, their child can receive Medicaid, which will provide for that child's medical care - and America has top-notch medical care.  And just as importantly, in America, it's normal to see people with disabilities in schools, restaurants, wherever you go.  Society accepts parenting special needs children as the norm.   But this is not the case in so many places.

Can you imagine being a young, scared birth mom, who just gave birth and learned that your child has special needs?  Needs that you didn't expect and you don't know how to deal with?  Can you imagine knowing that you can never access the medical care that your child needs?  How hard would it be to choose to parent this child, when most people around you have never seen someone parent a special needs child, the schools are not equipped for the child, the doctors are telling you that the best place for your child is an orphanage.... I can't imagine.  I pray that these factors can change and more families are able to parent their special needs child.  To me, THAT is the answer to the orphan crisis.

In the meantime we are left with this: There is a staggering number of children in orphanages throughout the world with very little hope of adoption in their country and often abysmal living conditions.  All over the world there are children who are emaciated and dying in institutions.  Many times the orphanage staff tries, but their resources are limited and some of these children need so much.  Other times the orphanage staff doesn't try - they abuse the children.  And nobody cares, because they have no family.  They have no voice.  No matter what - no orphanage, not even a good one, can compare to being part of a family.  These children, they live with no hope, no future, no mommy to tuck them in at night.  These precious children are "the least of these."  And God tells us over and over to care for the least of these.

These children - they are no different than my L.  She was just born to a different family in a different place.  This little girl, who is the light of my life, would be hopeless, abandoned, and alone if she were born in one of these places.  That is so painful for me to accept.

Here's the thing: When you don't know, you can ignore it.  But when you KNOW, you are responsible to act.  For me, it haunts me.  It physically pains me to know that these children are in such need.  Every time I read a waiting child listing for a special needs child, I think of how my precious L would be listed.  It would not be flattering, I can promise you that.  It follows me throughout my day.  I don't look at money the same way - I compare frivolous spending to the cost of an adoption.  I look for ways to buy gifts from adoption fundraisers (sorry to everyone who didn't get what you actually wanted, but rest assured, you helped save a life!)  I watch my daughter play or pick her up from school and wonder how it is that she has such freedoms while other kids are locked away, tied to a crib, for the crime of being born with special needs.  I will never see the world the same way again.

What can we DO?  The answer for us was clear: We are called to adopt.  Not just any child, but an older child with a disability, who would most likely need life-long care.  Basically, a child who is unlikely to be adopted.  A child like our princess L.  We weren't ready.  We had our hands full,  and the costs were almost insurmountable.  God told us NOW.  So, now we are going.  Despite the odds, the difficulties, and the fact that this is just flat crazy, it's a God-ordained crazy, so we are going for it!

Everyone needs to ask "What can we DO?" but the answer is NOT always adoption.  There are so many roles for people to help kids both here and abroad.  Everyone can DO SOMETHING.  I'll hit on some options in another post in order to keep this from turning into a novel. :-)

To end, I'll give you this:

Adoption listing description: (a guess based upon what I've seen on others)
Girl, age 5. Severe mental delay, very poor speech development, hypotonia, chromosomal anomaly, does not feed herself well, is not potty trained, is not social with other children, does not respond to commands.  Unlikely to ever live independently.

My description:
Girl, age 5. Beloved daughter, granddaughter, sister, and niece.  She's cognitively delayed, but she learns something new every day.  She's mostly non-verbal but sometimes she surprises us.  She communicates quite well without words, and ALWAYS manages to get what she wants.  She's not always very social, but she gives the world's best cuddles to those of us who she loves.  We feel so blessed when she chooses to cuddle us that we always stop what we are doing to soak it up.  She doesn't always show it, but there is a bright mind hidden behind her delays - we love it when she shines.  She entertains us every day with her beautiful humming, and she is quite musical.  She breathes light and life into our home, and we are blessed to be her family.