What does the future hold?

The past few days I’ve been thinking about education, and skills, and jobs, and the future.

Not mine, but his:

IMG_0670

A lot of parents who have children with special needs seem to worry about these things.

I guess I’m just not worried.

Maybe it’s my naivete.  I like to think it comes from the experience of seeing how some people are so impoverished.

Mother_teresa_quotes_hd

 

What is the future for someone who is forgotten?

A loving family and a true and beautiful Faith…our futures are held within these.  We have no reason to fear, or worry, or have anxiety.  Because even if Paul never speaks, or writes, never learns basic independent living skills, stays under our roof always…he’s loved.  And he wasn’t always (save our Heavenly Father and Mother).  For a time, he lived the greater poverty.  But that’s over now, so there is nothing left but hope and joy and life.  If your child never lived that poverty, all the more praise to God, because it was and is as it should be.  He or she is better off than so many who still endure the pangs of hunger to be cared for, wanted, loved.

So what does the future hold?  I think it holds transcendent joy.

Because he cannot ask for himself.

Meet Brett, a handsome little guy in Eastern Europe who has cerebral palsy.

Photo from March 2014!

Photo from March 2014!

Brett has been living life in an institution for nearly 7 years.   Such a life is marked by a pervasive poverty.

Each day comes and goes without proper attention and stimulation, sound education, loving discipline, medical care, the love and affection of a family, the knowledge of God, His Truth and His Goodness.

Probably the only time he ever got to play in that ball pit was for this photo.  No exaggeration.

Probably the only time he ever got to play in that ball pit was for this photo. No exaggeration.

Children do not fare well in orphanages- not physically, and certainly not emotionally.  It is not where they thrive.  For many, they don’t even survive!  So, when a child could potentially be adopted, it is a life changing, life saving opportunity.

Brett’s opportunity is here.

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 3.20.52 PM

A family already traveling to his country in a mere 2 weeks to adopt another child, would like to also adopt Brett.  But they don’t have the funds.  Adoption, particularly international adoption, is expensive.  Some people don’t like the idea of donating so a family can adopt.  I used to feel that way.  But let me tell you: many people can afford the day to day care of a child, even a child with special needs like Brett, who has cerebral palsy.  That is not the obstacle.  The obstacle is the expenses for the adoption.  Expenses that most families cannot afford on their own.  Flights cost money.  Facilitators cost money.  Translators, medical visits, country passports and VISA’s, transportation, food, paperwork.  And none of it is for the benefit of the family; it’s for the future of a child.

Brett has a grant through Reece’s Rainbow, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  If that grant increases by $3,500, his adoption expenses will be covered entirely.

But not only does it need to jump up by $3,500, it needs to do it in 6 days.  Sounds impossible, but God and His people are generous, so I believe it can be done!

To help this effort, many generous people have come together to offer a matching grant of $1000 for Brett’s grant fund!

How does a matching grant work?  Every dollar donated to Brett will be doubled, up until $1000 has been donated.  So, $5 will become $10, $50 will become $100, etc.  It’s like magic.

Please help us take advantage of this entire matching grant.  If we take full advantage, Brett’s grant will increase by $2000 by the end of it, making him so much closer being able to be adopted!

Such a hopeful expression! 

Please help- pray, share, give!  We are asking because Brett cannot ask for himself.   Could we make a sacrifice in our comfortable lives so a child has a future?  Forego the Starbucks and give $5.  Pass on the summer pedicure and give $30.  Personally, I’m going to cut my own hair, and donate the $45 I had planned to spend at the salon.

Please, go and donate now.  Time is of the essence!  Once Brett’s grant reaches $11,713.75, it means the entire matching grant has been met!

Brett would thank you, if he could.  And he’d probably flash you this adorable smile, too.

Brett-2013-1-230x300

 

 

20 Months

I met two very special children while adopting Paul.  Two boys who have weighed on my heart every day since I laid eyes on them, held their hands and stroked their cheeks.

May God be praised that, after the first family that tried to adopt them could not proceed, a beautiful young couple, Josiah and Jenny, stepped forward.  Jenny is in country now, visiting the boys everyday.

She wrote this beautifully true and difficult blog post that I hope you’ll read:

I will never leave you nor forsake you

Please keep this family, soon-to-be sons included, in your prayers.

Another edition of…

BOYS, UNDER 2, WITH DOWN SYNDROME FROM THE SAME COUNTRY AS PAUL.

Rolls right off the tongue.

You might remember, a long time ago when we last did this, that there were SEVEN little guys who fit this category.  Guess how many there are now?

THREE!

So that’s kind of refreshing.

Though, there are 2 familiar faces:

otto 3:13

Otto, born March 2013

And here are two updated photos of Otto!

otto1 otto2

 

Friends, he is only 15 months old–just a baby.  That was the same age Paul was when he came home, and even so young, he really needed to come home!

Then there’s Olen…

olen 5:13

Olen, born May 2013

I’ll be honest about Olen.  It says nothing about a possible heart condition.  It doesn’t say he has one, but it also doesn’t say he doesn’t have one.  I’m a bit concerned about him.  He looks too pale and too thin.  I think he’s struggling.  I could be wrong; I hope I am.

And the new guy on the block:

rogan

Rogan, born May 2013

Rogan has a couple other diagnoses besides Down Syndrome, most visibly a cleft lip, and a cleft palate.  He also is said to have rickets, an additional chord on the left ventricle of the heart, and carries hep C antibodies.  None of these raise huge red flags for adoption, in my opinion.  Though the cleft palate raises a big flag that says something like, “Adopt me soon because I’m choking and aspirating when they feed me, so I’m probably malnourished and suffering from chronic pneumonia.”  To me, that flag is more worthy of consideration.

 

Solyanka

If you’re like me, you’ve searched high and low for a good Solyanka recipe…

Hold on…

“What is Solyanka?” you ask?

Well, it is a delicious soup made up of a collection of unexpected ingredients.

solyanka

Yes, that’s lemon. And an olive.

Like Italian tomato sauce, I think the key to a good solyanka is a variety of meats.  I finally found a good recipe for it, which I will now share with you.

Ingredients

1 lb. beef chuck, trimmed
8 oz. kielbasa sausage
4 oz. boneless ham steak
2 oz. hard salami
4 whole black peppercorns
3 whole allspice berries
1 bay leaf
4 oz. sliced bacon, minced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
¼ small head green cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 tbsp. tomato paste
1 (15-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed
5 cups beef stock
1½ large dill pickles, chopped
1½ tbsp. capers, drained
¼ cup pitted black olives, sliced
1½ tbsp. sugar
½ lemon, thinly sliced
Chopped parsley, sliced scallions, and sour cream, for serving

1. Cut beef, kielbasa, ham, and salami into ¼” pieces; set aside. Place peppercorns, allspice, and bay on a piece of cheesecloth and tie into a tight package; set aside.  (Because of it’s abundance of uses, cheesecloth can be found in the craft section at Walmart.)

2. Heat bacon over medium-high heat in a 6-qt. saucepan; cook until crisp, 4–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a bowl; set aside. Add meats to pot; cook until browned, 6–8 minutes. Add onion, celery, cabbage, and salt and pepper; cook until soft, 4–6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste; cook, until slightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. 

3. Return bacon to pot with spice package, tomatoes, and stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add pickles and capers; cook until beef is very tender, 40–45 minutes. 

4. Remove spice package. Stir in olives, sugar, lemon, and salt and pepper. Serve with parsley, scallions, and sour cream.

Adults and kids alike seem to love this soup.  Encourage people on the sour cream.  Like a lot of Ukrainian food, it tastes even better with some sour cream!

As Ben would say…”deeee-licious”!  Sort of like when we did some sensory play with cool whip…

IMG_2162   IMG_2167

 

Hear the plea of the orphan

I posted about Jaxon a little while back.  A boy from Paul’s country, with Paul’s diagnosis, who shares Paul’s birth month and year.  A veritable twin.

I found out yesterday that Jaxon is in Crimea, which you have hopefully heard about in the news.  Russia has done a horrendous land grab and took Crimea from Ukraine.  One of the many results of this is that orphans in Crimea are no longer able to be adopted by Americans (who are the ones who do the most international adoptions, and certainly the most adoptions of children with special needs, like Jaxon.)

So now all we can do is wait and pray.  We do not know what Jaxon’s future looks like, but the horizon became more bleak these past few days.

I also want to show you a little boy who has been on my mind and heart.  He needs a family so very desperately.

Meet Nathaniel.  This photo was taken of him only 2 days ago.

Image

He’s so beautiful.  I look at his face and he can take my breath away.

I know his head is large.  It is scary.  But he is actually doing astonishingly well!  Look at how open his eyes are?  Families who have met him relatively recently, even when his head looked to be about this same size, said that he was alert, and smiley, and giggling.  He would interact with them from afar.

This is miraculous.

But it won’t last forever.

He can’t continue to endure like this.

He will, at some point, probably in the near future, succumb to the effects of his hydrocephalous and his bright eyes will not shine as they do now.  And he won’t interact, or be able to smile and giggle through the pain that he constantly endures.

What will we do for him?

Do something!  Act!

You believe you can’t adopt?  Ok.  Maybe we can talk about that some other day.  In the meantime…

What CAN you do?  Can you get on your knees and pray?  Can you donate $5?  Can you share Nathaniel by e-mailing people about him, or on Facebook?  By the way, Facebook is the reason Paul is in our family, so don’t think a “share” is a trivial thing.

Recently Pope Francis was asked how we are to know if we are on the right path.  He answered:

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

nat       Image