So, this post is going to be a little be different. This is going to be my first “advocacy” post, where I beg you to read about a couple of children that my heart aches for. As a verb, advocate is to “recommend publicly,” and as a noun, “a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.” The thing is, there are a couple of kids that I just can’t shake. Some because I actually met them – I laughed with them and watched them and briefly loved them. And some for unexplainable reasons – my heart is just drawn to them and can’t let them go.
I’m going to tell you their stories. Because their stories make them real. Because they ARE real. And they deserve to be seen, if only here on the lonely pages of the internet. And you might be thinking, “Well, we never plan to adopt, so I’ll just skip on past this post and catch back up when there are more pictures of that adorable baby.” Please read it anyway. For them. Simply SEE them, if nothing else.
But you could also pray for them. You could donate to their funds or share their stories (and it’s only the tiniest of things we get to know about them, sadly). If you know anyone considering adopting, you could show them their pictures. You could honestly and earnestly ask God what He is asking from you, and then, at least for now, only pretend to listen. :) He’ll keep asking — trust me, I’ve learned.
But really, some of it is selfish. I’m also advocating for these kids for me. To get the weight of their eyes off my chest and my heart, the weight of their lives of my soul. I have to do this – speak for them. I promised myself one night in a little room while we were traveling to adopt Boo…I wrote down their names in a notebook, and resolved to share them until they are truly found. So read it for me, help me carry the weight. Amplify my voice. Every child belongs in a family. And we can’t save them all. But these ones, these ones have my heart.
I read this anecdotal story about a Christian man in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. He said that the trains carrying Jewish people to their deaths would run by their church on Sundays, and they could hear the cries and screams of the people (begging for help and mercy) as it passed the sanctuary. Eventually, it got to the point that when they heard the train whistle, they all just began to sing louder, to block out the noise that tormented them. He is relaying the story many years later, and he says he can still hear that train whistle in his sleep. Tormented now by the fact that they did nothing to intervene.
Truthfully, I’m not sure if this is a true story – I couldn’t track it down to a reliable source. But it stuck in my mind so clearly, so tangibly, that I wanted to share it anyway. This is the train whistle, friends. We can’t pretend we don’t know there is a need, and we can’t just sing louder because it makes us feel better. Children are depending on us to do better.
Maddie is a beautiful little girl who turned nine last month. Nine long years without a family. She was born with a congenital heart defect that has since been repaired, and she is listed as have a moderate mental delay. There are only two updates about her – one from when she was four and another one from when she was seven. When she was four, they described her as a “mother’s helper,” always helping others and cleaning up messes. Although she had an unsteady walk, she was determined to be independent, and often sang loudly in her own little language. This girl moves to the beat of her own drum, and her spirit is strong. When she was seven, it was noted that she began to attend school, as a bus would take her to and from institution.
Can you imagine what that feels like? To have your “stop” be an orphanage. When my brother and I were children (I was in the second grade), we lived in one of the wealthiest school districts in our city. Only, we weren’t wealthy. We lived in the last street in the district, in a small, brown house with our single, working mom. As children, we couldn’t understand that there was nothing wrong with our house. I actually have great memories from that particular house. But to us, it was small. And it was brown. Some kids called it the poop house. And when you know (or you think) that all the kids on your bus live in huge houses, it makes you self-conscious. The house next door, however, we deemed respectable. (It’s funny because I’ve driven down that street as an adult and there is really no difference between the two). But every day, my brother and I would get off the bus and walk slowly to the neighbors front door, praying they weren’t home and waiting for the bus to pull away. Then we’d run over to our house and go inside. My heart aches for how Maddie must feel everyday, reminded that all the other kids are going somewhere she can only dream of: home.
But she likes school, and if she is in interested in what she is doing and has good motivation, they report she does well. This sweet girl needs a family, and she needs a family fast. Statistics aren’t Maddie’s friend. Orphans who “age out” of the institution face a bleak future. The numbers show that 10-15% commit suicide before the age of 18, and 70% of the boys become criminals to survive. The aged-out girls however, face a different fate: because they are poor, uneducated and unskilled, they are the perfect target for human traffickers. More than 60% of the girls are forced into prostitution. Combine those numbers with the fact that Maddie is not only truly beautiful, but has a slight mental delay, and my heart shudders at the thought of what will happen to her.
Please see her.
Oh, this precious boy. I had the privilege of meeting him, and I can tell you he is one clever little dude. His file lists all sorts of diagnoses that would scare many families off, but quite honestly, I’m not sure they are accurate. Obviously, I’m not a doctor, and I’m not HIS doctor, and I have no way of know the intricate details of his care. But I met a little boy with what appeared to be mild cerebral palsy and traces of FAS, who was determined enough to figure out a way to walk, and played amongst all the other boys (leaping from couches nonetheless) with no issues. When I first arrived in his room, I taught him to fist bump and blow it up. We only did it once, maybe twice, and then something else happened and other kids needed attention and that was it. But when I left an hour and a half later, he remembered it perfectly. He is very attached to a young woman who volunteers her time at the orphanage., and he kept looking to her for assurance, for validation. It is actually a fantastic sign that he has formed such a close relationship, and bodes well for his ability to form secure attachments throughout his life. He was also “reading” me books, and he is one of those children who notice everything about a page, and want all the details explained and examined and corroborated. Unfortunately, next year Zeke will be moved from his baby house to a home for older children. This type of move is very traumatic for children, because it separates them from everyone and everything they have ever known.
I’m telling you though, this boy has a LIGHT. A spark, something beautiful. He will bloom with a mama’s love. The volunteer basically changed her entire life to be with him. She met him as a toothy toddler and fell head over heels, returning to his orphanage during the summers to volunteer. Eventually (after college), she moved from the US to Lithuania in order to be with him full time. As a single woman, working toward a visa in order to secure employment, she is unable to adopt Zeke (and will be for the foreseeable future), and yet she loves him all the same. That is just the type of boy is he – he draws you in.
Please see him.
This sweet little man is a bundle of energy! Not long ago, his reports stated that he was not steady while walking, but the boy I saw had full control of his body. When I first arrived in his room, he ran immediately to me and jumped up in my arms. He was all wiggle, so I started jumping up and down with him in my arms and he just laughed. He would have done this for the rest of the day. He is however, pretty strong for a little dude, so I think he would probably be best in a family with no small children. Not because he showed ANY inclination of hurting others, but just because he will definitely require a watchful eye. My heart breaks for Heinrich, because he is not cute and cuddly anymore. He has passed the point where his transition to top-notch therapy and care would have made an immediate difference, and he needs a family willing to work hard to find his best potential. But he has made significant gains recently – he has the potential in there! And his file says that he lacks the motivation to make an activity – and this sentence literally kills me. I’m sure they said the same about our Boo. But why WOULD there be motivation? There is no one to cheer you on, reward you, believe in you, and never leave you. No one who will always be there, no matter how hard it gets. What is motivating about the same four walls, a rotation of caregivers (who, even though loving, are transitory and BUSY), and a future with a foregone conclusion. If no one expects anything from you, you are likely to meet that expectation.
Heinrich is a diamond in the rough, and he desperately needs someone to believe in him.
Please see him.
You guys, I don’t know what it is about this girl, but I just love her so much. That smile just stops my heart every time. Olivia will be ten this year, and her chances of being adopted go down with each passing month. Sweet Olivia walks and uses the restroom independently, and is totally able to perform the morning exercises with the other children. I die picturing this. They say she is kind and helpful to other children, and her agency has a lot more pictures and information about her. She hasn’t had an update since 2012, which usually means that no one has asked about her. This sweet, beautiful girl who loves crafting – stringing beads, coloring and more. The good news is that Olivia is in a good orphanage that is sponsored by Half the Sky. She goes to preschool, and even receives physical therapy. She loves to show off her good work to her teachers, and they love to give her praise because she will laugh happily and clap her hands.
Her files ends with the words: She is restless and brave.
SHE IS RESTLESS AND BRAVE! Do you hear me??!! She needs a family to start a new life where she has opportunity to grow and learn and love and live. She needs a mama to brush her hair, and teach her sign language, and read her books and sing her goodnight. I just have a feeling about this one friends == she is going to rock your world!
Please see her.
And last, but not least, my sweet Ryan. This is the boy with the megawatt smile we designed the t-shirts for, the boy who I shared around Christmas. This little dude is still waiting, and he will be five this summer. Five is still such a baby! He recently got some new specs, and I’m not sure he can be any cuter! Ryan has a repaired heart defect, and mild asthma, and as of this spring he was already getting dressed and undressed alone, as well as eating independently. My facilitator said he is an awesome little dude, and I wanted so badly to give him some love! He gets along and plays with the other children and is very friendly to adults. Ryan is at a perfect age to come home – ready to get started with preschool and kindergarten and have someone finally willing to discover all he is really capable of. Ryan is interested in anything, and he would fit well in any family. This boy has my heart, friends.
Please see him.
I know it can feel hopeless to see all these faces and know they only represent more. But there is always Hope, always Love, always Grace. Choose one of these children and pray for them – find ways to raise money for their funds. Share their faces and help find their families. Just choose one. In his book Radical, David Platt says, “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes…”
***If you click on their names, you can go to their personal page for more information or donate directly to their funds.***
***If you are interested in more information on any of these children, please contact Reece’s Rainbow and they will put you in touch with the appropriate agency!***