Meet Frank. He’s 13 years old, and is curious, busy, fun happy and bright. He has a mental delay, but that doesn’t stop him from being friendly, engaging and kind. He’s also an orphan in Eastern Europe. This means he is in an institution. If he is not adopted by age 16, he will be thrown out on the street with nothing but the clothes on his back and his “disabled orphan” status. Let me tell you more about Frank.
He’s little, about the size of a 7 year old. And he’s smart. He is in a group with teenage boys ages 16-24. He does puzzles and he does his chores diligently. He is very kind to the younger children. Frank is friendly and engaging. He likes being with the boys, but is happy being alone too. He plays appropriately with toys and is “all boy”. He could very easily function in a family. Frank is curious, smart, fun and sweet. He likes to play in the dirt and jump on the trampoline. Frank is independent, a good eater, is happy and content. Frank is physically healthy. He walks, runs, feeds himself, speaks, does puzzles and interacts with others well. He's a sweet boy who seems rather unaffected by his surroundings. He has no future where he's at, and without help, he's never getting out. Institutions are a one way ticket to nowhere. And this little boy deserves a future. This little boy will be a blessing to any family.
The Baker family has committed to adopt Frank and another boy, Emmitt. But international adoption is pretty expensive. The adoption would cost about $30,000. Reece’s Rainbow is an organization that helps with this cost. They set up grants for children in 25 countries around the world, and any money that is donated to these funds is given to the families to help with adoption fees. With Reece's Rainbow's help, the Baker family only needs about $10,000 to bring home both boys!
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Monday, May 6, 2013
I wish I could conjure up the most eloquent blog post ever right now, but I can't.
I'm actually pretty preoccupied by my health tonight, and I didn't really want to write a blog post.
But then it occurred to me.
While I sit in my warm bed in my warm house, not wanting to type on my laptop...
...a little boy sits, and maybe he's cold, having nothing that's really his own... not wanting to be an orphan.
And I owe it to him to write this post.
Around a year and a half ago, for some reason and without ever intending to, I fell in love with this little boy.
Back then, he looked more like this:
I don't know what it was about him. Maybe his picture. Maybe his story. But I think, mostly God.
That little boy is Brett, and he lives in a mental institution in Eastern Europe, because he was abandoned at birth because he has down syndrome.
And when I say abandoned at birth... I mean it quite literally. Most of the children in orphanages or institutions were born in hospitals or at home and surrendered from there directly to the orphanage. Not Brett. Immediately after giving birth, Brett's birth mother left him to lie in a field. He became hypothermic and unresponsive, went into shock. When a stranger came upon him and took him to the hospital, he was covered in bug bites.
Brett very nearly didn't make it through his first day on this earth. If that stranger hadn't come upon him, for whatever reason, by whatever twist of fate... he would have died, a nameless baby who belonged to no one.
But that didn't happen. He was saved. Saved... and then taken to a hospital... and then to an orphanage. At three years old, he was transferred from the orphanage to an adult mental institution. Adult. Three years old.
Saved... but for what kind of life?
This is the question I ask myself every day - and it can only have one answer. Brett's story isn't over - not yet. He was saved that day, on August 23, 2001 (yes, I have his birthday memorized), for something greater than the life he's living now... and all he needs to get there... is you.
If you've been waiting for a sign, this is it. Brett needs YOU.
He's eleven years old now, still waiting in that mental institution, legally free and available for adoption and listed with Reece's Ranbow with a grant over $2,500 to aid with his adoption. I can personally promise to help raise the rest of the money required for the family who adopts him. His country is really a great one to adopt from - easy travel, inexpensive, very stable program, Hague country, I've heard nothing but good about the facilitators and agency staff.
What are you waiting for?
Recently, one of the adoption facilitators traveled to Brett's institution. The report came back that he has some nonverbal communication skills, is extremely flexible (typical for kids with DS), and would likely do very well in a family and is not aggressive (something that has been seen in many institutionalized children). Brett also has alopecia, which is why he lost his hair. No big deal. I shaved mine for him on New Year's this year! There are all sorts of fun things to do with a bald head. And this little detail of his appearance... should absolutely NOT be what stops him from having the family he deserves. From my own limited experience with institutionalized children, I suspect he would be a wonderful and loving son. Others with more experience seem to concur. More pictures and videos of Brett are available from the agency.
There are two possible outcomes for Brett. Only two. He doesn't have the limitless opportunities we have in this country.
The first one, the one I want for him, is a happy ending. A family. A mom and dad, or maybe just a mom, to say YES to Brett... where others have said no.
Lately, there have been a string of older boys (the most at-risk group of orphans) appearing on the My Family Found Me page at Reece's Rainbow. And every time a new one shows up, I rejoice for him, but my heart says, "Why not Brett?" Fifteen year olds, aging out in a matter of days, have had the adoption community rally around them and been adopted just in time. Teenagers, on the cusp of being fully grown adults. By comparison, Brett isn't 'older'. He's eleven. I remember eleven. We traded pokemon cards, danced to music, played dress up in our parents' clothes, loved board games, had sleepovers. Brett is still a child. And he has Down Syndrome. His developmental 'age' is likely much lower. He's just a little boy... in the body of an eleven year old. So I ask again... Why not Brett? Why, never Brett? Why is he not one that people rally behind? Because he doesn't come from the 'right' institution? Because no adopting families have met him? None of these things are his fault! No more obstacles than have been overcome in previous cases.
He's just another little boy, locked away in a place he doesn't belong... probably very rural, from what we know, which is likely to increase his hardship, especially during the winter. Heat and food can be hard to come by in rural areas without reliable routes of transportation for all seasons... so while you're celebrating Christmas, instead of celebrating with you, eyes lighting up brighter than the Christmas tree, he's probably cold, and hungry.
If Christ our Lord was sitting in that institution... would you not save him?
But He is.
He is in every one of us... especially the least of these.
Which group are you in? Those who do, or those who don't?
Because, the second possible outcome of Brett's life is unimaginable. I don't need a long paragraph to describe it. He will spend the rest of his life in a mental institution with sub-par care, until one day, he dies there. He will rock, chew his hands, bite his tongue, stare at blank walls, shiver, maybe starve... and then he will die. He'll be buried in an unmarked grave, or maybe a grave marked only with a wooden stick and a number. Again, nameless, and again, belonging to nobody... the same way he started out.
That is not the life he was saved for. I refuse to believe it. That can't be his future. Not after all the obstacles he's overcome already. Brett is a fighter - in a good way, of course - but there's only so much he can do for himself in his position. Right now, he needs you... to help him fight... to get him out... to save him from fading away as alone as he started out.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me allow the pictures to illustrate the stark contrast between these two futures.
Here's the one he can have if you say YES to him.
And here's the one he'll have if you turn away.
I've been pleading for Brett since the day I saw his picture. Like the day the stranger came upon him in that field, I believe it was fate that I saw him. But I can't adopt him. I'm too young for his country's requirements and I always will be. The law requires parent and child to be at least 15 years apart in age. I've posted his picture everywhere. I've written countless blog posts for him. I've done fundraisers for him. I shaved my head for one of them! Since that day a year and a half ago, his grant has grown by over $2,500 (although certainly not by my own hand). But I can't save him. Not alone.
I'm a realistic person. I know not everyone can or should adopt... but I also know that people do, every day... and sometimes they choose older boys, just like Brett. Why not him? And if you're in that group, like me, who couldn't adopt him no matter how hard they tried, that doesn't mean you can't do anything! Brett needs two things. He needs money in his Reece's Rainbow account, to help the family who commits to him. You can donate to him here. But more than anything, he needs to be seen. So I beg you to share this blog post... far and wide. If you never do anything I ask again, please, please do this. Just this would be enough. And if not for me... do it for the abandoned little boy in the field, cold and alone and covered in bug bites. Or do it for God. Just do it... please. This is our chance to get Brett seen... before it becomes an aging out emergency.
Donate. Share. Pray. Adopt.
Be one of those who gives to the least of these... not one of those who turns away.
Please. I'm begging you. Don't turn away. Don't let him stay the way he is right now... nobody's child.
Other blog posts about Brett: