Friday, December 30, 2011

What does it mean really to be a mom and a dad? (or a friend, or a sister or a brother...

I have been a sister and a daughter for 41 years. I have been a wife for 18 years. I have been a mom to 6 children ages 15, 13, 13,12,7, and 4, for 12 years.
Wait, what?
Yep, my kids are older than how many years I have been a mom.
I have been a mom through adoption for 12 years. My first child came home at 10 months. The second at 16 months, the third at 3.5, the 4th and 5th came home together at 12 and 10, and the 6th was almost 3. This has put me in a unique position. It is imperative that I learn exactly who my children are and what they need. To recognize that while their birth certificates and bodies say they are one age, emotionally they are much much younger. It is vital to remember that their emotional growth was stunted and that their little hearts and minds often think like a much younger child. I must find out where they really are emotionally and meet them there.
This is no easy task. It is hard to remember that this teen in front of you, who is so handsome and manly, on many levels often thinks just like my 7 year old. Many times my 7 year old is more mature because his intervention began when he was younger. The 13 year old who experienced a flood of hormones with the tremendous nutritional shift that occurred when she arrived, looks like a woman and thinks quite a bit like my 4 year old: Beyond egocentric.
But in the daily living, these facts can get lost and tensions build. We forget that we are responsible for their emotional health. We've pushed aside our children's reality with the platitude that "children are resilient."
You know what? Children are resilient, but they shouldn't have to be. If we are their parents, we are supposed to be their protection. We are to take the brunt of what they must live through.
What exactly do I mean by that?
Just because they have a better life now, doesn't mean that we are supposed to leave them to process through their past alone. So often we leave them carrying that baggage themselves instead of coming along side them and holding those very large bags with them.
This will not be easy.
They protect those bags, for within those bags is their heart.

In order to do this they throw up all kinds of defenses:

And in our own desire to believe that everything is going to be alright and "Gee, don't' they look like all the other American kids," we miss it. Because we're right, they do look just like all the other American kids.

We've made it right to where everyone else is. The great divide between parent and child. Who am I kidding, between husband and wife as well.

It boils down to 2 words. Intentional Relationship

So often we aren't intentional with our children (or our spouses.) We don't actively foster our relationships. We are reactive. We don't function in a way that makes sure that we are connected to our people in a healthy way, we merely react to them when what they do affects us negatively. This seems to be the only time we recognize our connections.
This is wrong. We are not being intentional in our relationships with our children. We are leaving them alone to navigate their relationship with us.
We've already established that they are much younger than they appear, with damage, and disappointment, and abandonment, and disease, and poverty all over them and it's up to them to dictate their relationship with us too?
It is time for us to get over ourselves and be the people God has called us to be.
Dads, step up and intentionally lead your families. Recognize that YOU are the rudder of the ship called your family. If you aren't doing your job, your ship is running way off course and your family is suffering because of it.
Moms, nurture your relationships with your children and your husband. Recognize that this is the roll we signed up for. We are the soft place for them. We need to meet them where they are and help them through life. We can't be distracted by the hurtful things being said to us. We must see past it and recognize that those are walls protecting the damaged hearts of our loved ones. We can focus on the smaller problem of the disrespect or we can persevere and get to the inner heart of our dear ones. If we can make it to their hearts and connect there, all the other walls will fall, and true relationship will form.
This is up to us, not our children.
Relationally with our spouses, we are equally culpable, but if it has to start somewhere, wives, lets begin.
It is humbling to realize that we have been given the responsibility of someone's heart and so easy to forget.

Look into your hands.
How many hearts do you hold?
How many are slipping through your fingers because you aren't intentional with the relationships you are responsible for?
Have you forgotten the relationship you have with the heavenly Father who so tenderly holds yours?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Do you know where Viktoria's family is? We really need to talk!

Ok, people.
You read my blog.
You have at least thought about adoption.
In your heart you know you are wondering when is the right time.


This is from an email I received today from Olga, an adoption facilitator in Ukraine:

A couple of months ago I e-mailed you the picture of one girl, she is HIV positive. Her name is Viktoria, 2003 d/b. I am e-mailing you this picture again.The thing is that this child is placed currently at the specialized House for Babies with special needs, next September she will be moved to the other orphanage as a child older then 9.
Today I talk to her doctor and she is really concerned about the girl. So far I decided to request you to tell the story about this girl to the Project Hopeful families.
Here is the story of this girl.

This girl, Viktoria by the name, was born in 2003 by the HIV positive mother. By the birth she was diagnosed as HIV positive child of IV clinical stage. From the moment of the birth she took anti HIV virus therapy.
By the moment she has zero HIV virus loading.

Till the age of seven Viktoria lived with the mother and thus she has all skills of everyday life as any home child does.

At the age of seven after the mother’s death Viktoria was placed at the specialized orphanage for children of special needs. No one among close persons of the mother’s community or any one of the relatives expressed the desire to adopt her or take under the custody.

It was hard time for Viktoria. The period of adjusting to the orphanage conditions took a long time. Currently she feels comfortable at the orphanage, psychologically steady and has made a lot of friends among the children of the orphanage and school.

The girl is attending classes of the second grade. Her teachers characterize her as a very diligent, attentive, hard working, and very creative girl.
From what the caregivers told she is a child with a big heart, caring, affectionate.
Victoria is very tactful and polite with the teachers and caregivers and friendly with the children.
She likes to playing outside, watching TV, doing things with her own hands. She can spend hours to embroidering, painting.
This girl is very homey. She really needs a family.
Moving to the other orphanage can be a great stress for her and no doubts it is a risk for her health condition. She really needs a family.
She is available to be adopted internationally.

Hope the girl will find her family and in my turn I promise to do my best to serve and to promote this adoption as quick as it possible.

I know Olga personally. Her heart is for these precious children. If she expresses this kind of concern for a child, it must be serious. I know that Olga will move mountains to make this adoption as rapid and smooth as possible.
If the Holy Spirit is speaking to you right now, don't quench Him. He has the most wonderful plan for you. Don't let fear of finances, of change, of the unknown, keep you from what He would have you do. You DO NOT want to miss out on God's grand adventure.
Contact me, NOW! Lets get this going. She needs you!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Adoption Manifesto

The thoughts below have been rattling around in my head keeping me awake at night, so I felt compelled to write them down. Please, I welcome your thoughts on the topic. I certainly don't mean to say that this is every church everywhere, because thankfully, I know it is not true, but it sure is rampant and it shouldn't be.

I am writing this today because I am distressed. It seems that the church has a blind eye when it comes to orphans and adoption. (or many other needs for that matter.) Not only that, but there is a standard response that adoptive parents receive when approaching the church for assistance with adoption expenses.

First expressed by leadership is utter bewilderment, “That’s nice that you want another child, but what does that have to do with the church? Why is it our responsibility to help you just because you would like another child?” Occasionally this is followed with the even more atrocious observance, “You have enough children.”

Second, the rationale, “If we were to help you, we would have to help everybody else who wanted to do the same.”

I don’t know which upsets me more. The fact that there is not just apathy to God’s commission regarding the orphan but an active resistance, an utter refusal to accept the responsibility placed upon us to care for orphans, or the unwillingness to open the floodgates of Heaven to make it happen. How has the church failed to remember that it was only through our adoption by God that we call Him Father?

In order to correctly discuss these issues, we must first establish some truths.

1. All Christians were once orphans in need of a father. We have been adopted into God’s family. Adoption is how we became children of God.

Romans 8:14-16
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
Romans 8:23
And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
Galatians 4:5
so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Ephesians 1:5
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

2. God has made it very clear that we are to care for the orphan, that in fact he views it as an expression of pure religion.
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
John McArthur observed that James picks two synonymous adjectives to define the most spotless kind of religious faith- that which is measured by compassionate love. Orphans and widows are an especially needy segment of the church. Since they are usually unable to reciprocate in any way, caring for them clearly demonstrates true, sacrificial, Christian love.
3. Jesus expects action.
James 2:14-16 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

With these truths being set, let us revisit the quotes at the beginning of this letter. (Make no mistake, these are quotes.)

“That’s nice that you want another child, but what does that have to do with the church? Why is it our responsibility to help you just because you would like another child?”

There is an attitude within the church that orphans do not exist. Only potential parents do. When did the church become so egocentric that the only motivation for doing something is because it is something we want? What has happened to obedience, putting others ahead of oneself, of serving? When did it become all about me, me, me? How is it that our church leaders not only advance this way of thinking, but embrace it themselves? Serving others and putting them first is supposed to be paramount to the Christian’s experience. It is how we are supposed to show Christ’s love, isn’t it? However, numerous families, that I know personally, have been told that their desire to increase family size is not anything the church is connected to. (The family didn’t phrase it this way. They said God had called them to adopt a child. It was restated back in a way that disconnected the church from any responsibility to act.) In doing so, the orphan’s need, very existence, has been negated by the ones who should most feel compelled to action. How it must break God’s heart.

“If we helped you, we would have to help everyone else who wanted to do the same.”

I have one thing to say to this, “Good!”
Why wouldn’t the church be eagerly offering this kind of assistance? One family was told this after asking if the church would take a “free-will” offering. They didn’t ask for a grant, a loan, a tithe. They asked that the body be given the opportunity to give of their own free will, and the church leaders not only didn’t want to offer this opportunity, but were horrified at the thought of potentially being put in the position of having to offer it again. Do you understand this? They are saying that they don’t want to help and don’t want anyone else to know of the need lest they decide to do the same and the church would be obligated to help them too!

Instead of seeking and meeting the needs of the lost, the church is actively avoiding the very thought of helping anyone outside of themselves. What has happened to the concept of sacrificial giving?

2 Corinthians 8:2-4
2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. 3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord…

It seems that the church has forgotten that everything belongs to God and comes from him. It seems to believe that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and the church has a lock on the corral around them.

Proverbs 3:27
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is within your power to act.

The church didn’t say that their funds were depleted because of all of their sacrificial giving, that there wasn’t a penny left, they said that they couldn’t do it because they would potentially have to help someone else!


Here are a few final thoughts. I was an orphan. We were all orphaned. God, in His mercy, adopted us. This came at a tremendous cost. We were condemned, dead in trespasses and sins. The cost of our redemption was the blood of Jesus, His death on the cross. He paid the penalty so we could become joint heirs with Christ, the sons of God.

When God told Jesus what needed to be done for our adoption, where would we be if He had said,” How is it any of my concern that you want more children? Besides, don’t you have enough?”

Sunday, October 9, 2011


what do I need to do for a Mom to come?

Do you know where she is?

Is she looking for me?"

Do you know anyone who would like to take a boy like me?

I would really like for a visitor at least, because I am all alone and I have no one.

I thought I would have such convicting words to say following these questions, but all I have is tears.

Do any of you know the answers for this precious boy?

If you do, please share them with me, or better yet, with him.

Isn't it time?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pearls, anyone?

I've been thinking about orphans lately.
Shocking, I know.
I talk often with people about all aspects of adoption, and cost is something that always comes up.


So today I'm thinking about orphans and cost.

I will tell you that cost is a widely misunderstood concept; most often because its scope has been minimized to something as inconsequential as dollars and cents.

As in: How much does the typical adoption cost?

In monetary terms, one could say that the average eastern European adoption of an HIV+ child lands right around $24,000 to $27,000.

Is that it?
Is that the cost in its entirety?

I recently heard a TV evangelist caution people considering adoption to "count the cost."
He eluded to mental illness, sexual abuse, and behavioral issues as things to very carefully consider. It was clear that he considered it far to high a price to pay; the underlying message was that in his mind, these children weren't worth the cost.

Here's the thing.
He wasn't wrong to identify those areas as areas that cost something.
They do.
Where he was absolutely wrong was in assuming that the price was too high.

The true answer to what an adoption costs is:




What we all need to understand is that every person,
every child,
every orphan
is worthy of the cost.

We know this because Jesus paid for our salvation with his life.
How can the redemption of someone else not cost us the same?

He died to redeem us.

In adoption, we live to redeem them.

Matthew 13:45
The kingdom if Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all he had and bought it.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Matthew 6:21
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

When considering the cost of adoption, it's not:
How can I ever pay it?

How can I not?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A chance to break the cycle

I have been away from my blog for a little while. There has been so much work to do with my kids, my home, my mission- the children God asks me to champion for. My little blog has suffered but so much has been accomplished in those other areas!

I am not alone in desiring to change the lives of orphans, there are others toiling gladly to do our Father's work. One such fellow laborer is Shane Lewis. He visited Ukraine within days of my return. He poignantly tells just one of the many stories happening right now. In it he reveals a world you could change right now.
Read about it here.
I pray that you would join us in making a difference for Alina. The simple act of helping her will also powerfully impact the lives of her brother as well as her unborn child.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

His mercies are new every morning

I am back from Ukraine and have nearly recovered from my 22 hour layover spent in the London air port. I am full of hope and potential and opportunity and I pray that it is contagious. There are many beautiful children who need families and I believe some of those families are yours.
While I will be writing more about those children in the up coming weeks, I wanted to share a bit with you about Nastia.
As you know, Nastia is the girl we were unable to bring home last year. She is seen in a group picture a couple of posts ago. You know that we love her.
while in Slavyansk, I was invited to visit the social worker responsible for the children in her town. She was still very disgusted with what transpired last year and shared with me that Nastia was still in the national adoption registry and was available for international adoption. She equipped me with some pertinent paperwork and with her blessing, I filed a request at the SDA to verify Nastia's status and ask for permission to immediately file paperwork. Lest you think I took this one in myself, Scott was aware of and approved of me taking these actions. I was told that I would receive word in about a week.
I can't tell you how excited I was to be doing this. This was not the purpose of my trip and just the ability to see her was a blessing. To find out that she was still available for adoption and that we would have the chance to try again was an awesome and unexpected gift, indeed!
I spent the last few days in Kiev meeting with other adoptive families, giving them encouragement and support. I got to spend time with the Houser family, adopting a little girl named Sveta, and I got to have a lunch with a woman named Natalie, who had just received paperwork for a blind referral to meet a little girl who was HIV+. She and her husband had not initially intended to adopt a child with HIV, so our meeting was especially opportune. I also spent Tuesday evening with a large crowd of families just arriving in Kiev as well as preparing to depart with their new children. It was so exciting.
We finally made it home Thursday night, I told my husband more about the paperwork filed for Nastia, and went to sleep dreaming about the good news I would hear the next week.
On Friday, when I finally got around to checking my email, I was excited to open an email from my new friend, Natalie. She had included a photo of her with the little girl who would be her daughter.


I was not expecting that. I had already begun to construct the God story that was happening. How glorious to share with you that we would bring home Nastia a year later. I had faced and understood that God had plans for her, reconciled that I may never know what her future was, but look, God was planning this all along!

God has other, grander, more perfect plans than mine.

He was not planning for me to be her mother, but He did let me have lunch with her mom.

I learned last year that with God, I am all in. I trust Him completely and know he loves me unconditionally. These again were not the plans I would have chosen, but I know that His ways are perfect. She will not grow up in an institution. She will not be transferred to internat when she is eight years old. She will have a mom and a dad who, to quote her new father, "will love her to pieces!" She will grow up learning how much Jesus loves her, because her parents will teach her this. She will have an older brother who is also from Ukraine.

She will know that SHE IS LOVED.

Jeremiah 29:11
'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.

I knew this promise to be true, even when I thought I would never know specifically His plan for her. God, in His mercy, pulled back the veil and let me see a glimpse of this promise to her.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More travel, more children, more opportunity

After our trip to Slavyansk, we boarded a train for Odessa. This was a 16 hour trip by train. We didn't forget our food in the fridge, so we snacked on juice, cheese, and bread. We have practically existed on mostly cheese and bread but the girls are good sports about it.
Once we arrived in Odessa, Masha's friend, Yana, met us at our train car. She contracted a driver to take us to a special needs orphanage. I knew that we would need a driver, but It was never mentioned that the trip would be 3 hours each way. I thought I would be paying the driver $50 or maybe $75, but the bill was really $200. This actually explains the cheese and bread.
Don't for a minute think that it was money wasted. The orphanage director was not there that day, he was actually in Odessa proper, but he directed the staff to meet with us and introduce us to children and discuss the children and their needs. He met us when we got back to Odessa just to touch base with us and make sure to meet me. I thought this was so very nice. He went out of his way just to meet me!
The orphanage has 12 children who are so young that their HIV status is still undetermined and they are not yet available for adoption. There are 3 other HIV+ children who are in Kiev right now receiving special treatments. We will be visiting them this Monday and bring them diapers, bananas, and crackers.
I was able to meet a number of other children. They have a number of different special needs. They gave me the exray of one child in order to share with his potential family when they step forward. His is an exceptionally bright little boy according to the staff. His little legs are bent under him and are not usable. They told of another little boy who had the same condition only much worse, who had been adopted and given a surgery. They said the family sent them a picture of him riding a bike! They expressed great hope that we at Project HOPEFUL might find a family for him. They held another little girl out to me who could not interact with those around her. They handled her with gentle care and attention, but were at a loss as to what could be done for her.
I have pictures of all of these precious little ones. I pray that God has a family appointed for each one and I pray that their ears and hearts are open to accept the blessings he has for them.
After such an exhausting road trip, we still needed to meet the director, pay the driver, have dinner and get back on the train to Kiev.
Yana suggested we eat at an Armenian restaurant she had eaten at once before. We were up for it. When we arrived, the owners of the restaurant came out to meet us. Yana had met them on her first visit. They took our bags into their car and had dinner with us. They proudly gave us a tour of the kitchen and showed us the stone pits that the kabobs were cooked in. When we got back to our table, they kept ordering all kinds of food. Cheese platters with brie, blue cheese and feta, 3 different kinds of chicken, mushrooms with cheese, compote (a fruit beverage) and another appitizer that was made of some type of tortilla with cheese, tomato, and herbs. The table was full. We kept eating, trying to make a dent so as not to offend, but when we were done, there was still quite a bit left. They also would not consider letting us pay for this incredible spread. It was their treat.
They mentioned during dinner that we were only 5k from the Black Sea. I said that would have been nice to see. They insisted on driving us there before we went to the train. They even escorted us to the water's edge so the girls could stand in it and say that they had been in the Black Sea. Their kindness and enthusiasm was such a wonderful and unexpected treat.
We are now back in Kiev. We got to spend the day visiting with some other adoptive families who have recently arrived. Tomorrow we go to the hospital, Tuesday I meet with another coordinator who wishes to connect with Project HOPEFUL to advocate for children in Crimea and I have one other small appointment, then we are done. We intend to meet a bunch of other adoptive families on Tuesday evening but have no other obligations after that. Our flight leaves Wednesday after 3pm. It has only just come to my attention that we have a 10 hour layover in London. I didn't realize that. I am also not really looking forward to it either. Oh well. God will provide for us, the endurance and patience to live through it.
Thank you all for your prayers and I am so blessed to be here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The third day of orphanage visits

I am a day behind in reporting on our orphanage visits. Today we took a day off and spent the afternoon on a river bank with Masha and her children. Yesterday we went to Slavyansk.
If that name sounds familiar it is because I have written about Slavyansk before. Last summer. It is where Nastia is, and yes, we went to her orphanage.
The director of this orphanage has a reputation for being difficult (she is not the reason Nastia did not come home last year), but during our visit, she was open, honest, and inquisitive.
She asked many questions about HIV, how it is spread, how it is not spread, how long does the virus live outside of the body (it can't), what happens to HIV+ blood in water (it is too diluted to make an impact and again, dies outside the body) and we discussed how in spite of the fact that HIV is rather difficult to contract, it is spreading at an epedimic rate in Ukraine. After I answered all of her questions, she agreed that what I said concurred with what she knew to be true. She admitted that while she knew it to be true, the workers who cared for the HIV+ children were not as informed and were reluctant to take her word for it. They wanted the children's dishes specially sanatized, they were afraid to wash the children well for fear of catching the disease and wanted many other special precautions that were time consuming and ultimately would make no difference.
I explained that part of Project HOPEFUL's mission was HIV education and told her about our seminars through the University. She and I agree that a dvd of this would be very good for her workers to get over their irrational fear and fight stigma. I told her that this was something we could try to work on.
The children in her orphanage stay there from ages 4 or 5 until 8 years old. After they turn 8, the children are moved to Internat. She became very grave when discussing Internat. She said that while a facillity like hers housed 35-40 children, Internat held 200 ranging in age up to 16. She expressed concern for the children leaving her in August. She has 4 children who will be leaving her in August. She said she was sad to send them there and commented that she would never want to work there.
We then got to visit the different groupas. She knew that I had been there last year for Nastia and took me to her groupa first. Friends, Nastia still looks so happy and healthy. We did not go out of our way to talk to her seperately, but when ever I caught her eye I would wink at her. This was often. I could tell that she recognized me but didn't know why. She was full of smiles. The children showed us their favorite toys and Daniel recited a special poem. We weren't allowed to take individual photos, but we have a group shot of each groupa. Hanna and Sveta are in Nastia's groupa shot and Nastia is right next to Sveta.
Before we left, we brought in the 4 giant duffel bags of clothing. She was so thankful. She spoke candidly about the finances of the orphanage, that they had enough money for food and necessities for the children but they didn't have enough clothes when the children went to camp. If a child was sent to the hospital, they never got the clothes back. She workes hard to carefully budget care for the building. The roof replacement was to be the next big project.
I found her to be economical and practical. One of the groupas was at camp, so the workers who normally took care of that group were busy deep cleaning and painting their area. She chose pleasant, happy colors for the children's area. Next she showed us an indoor playroom. The orphanage had received a gift of $1000. She used it to buy toys and sports equipment much like the large vinyl covered foam shapes found in gymnastic gyms. She explained how each groupa had it's own play area like this one, but only this one could be improved in this way.
Before we left, she gave me a booklet about her orphanage and thanked me for advocating for the children and for bringing her the clothing. She said she hoped I could find famiies for her 7 year olds before they were sent away. I said that was my prayer.

Tomorrow, we visit 2 more orphanages before getting on the overnight train to Odessa where we will visit 2 more orphanages and then get back on the overnight train to Kiev.
Once back in Kiev we don't have any more scheduled visits and will spend the days prior to our flight with newly arriving families showing them the good inexpensive places to eat and where to buy gifts. Generally answering their questions and calming their nerves before the SDA and travel on to their various regions.
All in all, it has been a great trip. We are blessed to do this and I pray that we shine God's light.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More Children, More Need, More HOPE

Yesterday we visited another orphanage. This orphanage does not house HIV+ children but instead houses children with different labels.

Cerebral Palsy
Amniotic Bands resulting in loss of a foot and finger binding
Severe Brain Damage
Severe Hydrocephalus
Apert Syndrome
Downs Syndrome

And worst of all...

NO MOMA AND PAPA to call their own.

To hold them
and rock them
and comfort them
and take care of them
and teach them
and cherish them
and the list goes on.

Could their be any worse diagnosis?

Sometimes I wonder how I can go on with the eyes of the orphanage directors and doctors full of hope that this woman, me, might find the ear, the HEART, of a mama and papa for these malinkies (little ones).

I tell them I do, I can, I will. (as my heart cries out, "Oh Lord, open their ears, their hearts, send them!)

I have HOPE.

The Lord will not leave them as orphans. He sets the lonely in families.

Dear friends, dear church...



Monday, June 6, 2011


I wrote this on the train to Donetsk. It is a 14 hour ride. Forgive any misspellings, I am tired and using wordpad.

On June 1, Sveta, Hanna and I boarded a plane and flew to Eastern Europe.
We have spent the last few days in the city and are now on the train to an outer region.
Just what exactly is our purpose here?
That's a great question. As the director of the FIG program for Project HOPEFUL, it is my honor and duty to find out how best to "stand in the gap" for precious orphaned children around the world. While responsible to and for all the children on our Waiting Kids list,  so it falls to me to explore the needs here in Eastern Europe.
Our first stop was the offices of Mercy Projects/Eastern European Outreach. These offices became our home for the first few days of the trip. Eastern European Outreach is the organization through whom we support foster families. They have many program,s but we feel that we can best compliment their program by advocating for their foster families and seeking partner families in the U.S. to aid them financially. They seek to fund 15 christian familes as they take up the Lord's commission to parent orphaned children by raising them within a loving family as opposed to within an institution. If you are interested in learning more about these families and what can be done, please don't hesitate to contact me. .
Eastern European Outreach also supports a church run orphanage an hour outside of the city. We had the pleasure of spending the afternoon there and were welcomed to get to know the chlidren. While the majority of children advocated for by Project HOPEFUL are infected or affected by HIV, we also advocate for children with other severe special needs. All of the children I was blessed to meet were over the age of 10 or part of a large sibling group.
I want to tell you about one sibling group of 4.

Maria (Masha)
Olexandr (Sasha)
Viktoriya (Vika)

The following is the brief description of these 4 children shared by the orphanage:
Masha and her 3 siblings are in the orphanage since 2009. They were taken from a regional shelter. Their mother was deprived of her parental rights. They don't know where their father is. She is like a mother to her younger siblings. She finished 9th grade. She works very hard in school but it is difficult because she missed many classes. In spite of this, she passed the exams that will allow her to enter a trade school.
Here's what the description doesn't tell you that I was able to gleen from spending lunch with them and speaking with the camp councilors who were wrapping up a 3 week stint at the orphanage:
Of all the children I spoke to, she was the only one who boldly and openly admitted that she hoped for a family. I found this very encouraging as well as heartbreaking. That at 16, when she could easily be turned out of institutional care, she was still able to hope for a future with parents of her own. That even though she had carried the burden of parenting her 3 younger siblings for a very long time, she still recognized and yearned for someone to care for her.
She also shared with me what she would like to do in the future. Masha would like to work in the travel industry. I can understand the appeal of a job that held the promise of adventure, pampering, and no responsibility. Is there any industry that embodies this more?
When I took a picture of her with her siblings, she blushed and said her picture wasn't good. (She is a very typical teen girl.) She is the oldest girl at the facility and she was clearly weary of all the younger activities that were available during "camp". She was comfortable enough to show irritation at the silly thing her brother had done.
Sasha is a charming boy with a great smile and freckles on his nose. the camp councelors say he is rough around the edges, that he has a tough outer shell but is obviously protecting a soft inside. One evening he had a fever, so one of the councelors went and spent the evening with him. He read to him, held his hand and later prayed with him. He soaked up the attention and thanked the councelor for the evening.
He is very competitive on the field and will play aggressively but this behavior seems to be isolated to the playing field. He definately plays to win.
She told me she has no interest in school but would rather play and watch tv (sound familiar?)
The camp councelors described her as very confidant and athletic in spite of the fact that she told me she had no interest in sports. She has a warm smile and they compaired her personality to Lucy from Chronicles of Narnia.
 Vika has been the youngest at the orphanage until very recently. She was a little miffed at being booted from this position. She said she likes sweets and dolls. The camp councelors said she has a very fun and silly personality. She is a tiny little doll who is doted upon at the orphanage and she revels in the attention.
This sib group has a tight and strong dynamic. I think they would benefit to be adopted by experienced parents who probably have chlidren who are wrapping up high school and are headed for college. Masha has carried the burden of parenting her younger siblings for a long time, and while she may struggle to let that roll go, she needs to be released from that responsibility and experience strong loving parenting. Although Masha is already 15, because she is part of a sibling group, she is able to stay at the orphanage as well as be adopted with her siblings up until the age of 18. We at Project HOPEFUL believe that this situation constitutes a severe special need and we pray that we find the family who will be blessed to meet it.
As I said earlier, we are now on a train. It left the station at 3pm and will arrive at 5am Monday morning in Donetsk. While there, we will visit a number of orphanages. I hope to start building relationships with the directors, at the very least helping them understand that the HIV+ children have a hope to be adopted and encouraging them to file the proper paperwork allowing them to be made available for adoption, and at most, I hope to be allowed to identify children who are available for adoption. I hope to take their pictures along with any information alowab le in order to start finding families for them.
From there, we will travel to Slavyansk. This is probably going to be the most difficult part of the trip for me. Slavyansk is where God asked us to leave Anastasia in His hands, and she is the reason that the FIG program has grown so rapidly. We are going to her orphanage and we are bringing 4- 50lb bags of donations.
A year ago June 22nd, Scott, Sveta and I traveled to Slavyansk and met our daughter, Anastasia. We spent the next 9 days visiting her twice a day, waiting for our court hearing. We had an initial court hearing and between this first hearing and the second hearing, we were strongly advised and agreed to withdraw our petition to adopt Anastasia. We found this out, prayed, and ultimately withdrew our paperwork after our first visit of the day on July 1. We weren't able to see Anastasia again after that. She turned 5 the next day.
She embodies the reason the FIG program is so important. We need to advocate for these children in order to find families for them before they are moved to an institution that they cannot be adopted from. She also represents the MILLIONS of children who WILL NEVER BE PLACED WITHIN A LOVING FAMILY. We need to develope ways to bring the hope of Jesus to the children who most likely will not realize the hope of parents of their own. What can we do for them? How can we prevent them from being sucked into the viscious cycle that has created the orphan in the first place? Keep them from catching, spreading, creating more HIV+ orphans, and dying from the very thing that brought them to an institution in the first place?

Currently the Eastern European government provides programs for a very few exceptional children to compete for scholarships into programs that will provide a way out for those fortunate enough to qualify. But what about everyone else? Already I see the need for facilities that will help the children who are released at 16 with no guidance or direction. A safe place that will teach love and skills that will keep them from the only choices readily available to them: prostitution and crime.
Do these places exist? Can we find sponsors for them? Must we create them ourselves? Show us the way, O Lord.
Our mission is to learn how to FIGHT DISPAIR AND BRING HOPE.
Pray for us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Change a life, grow a family, have some fun!

If you've visited my blog, you've seen this little darling before. This is Addison. Her time is running out.

She will turn 5 soon.

Because of a cleft palate, she cannot form words regardless of how hard she tries. Her little mouth cannot make the proper sounds.

She will turn 5 soon.

When she does, it is likely that this precious child, who has clearly been sprinkled with a very generous helping of stinker, will be transfered into an adult mental institution. Once that happens, there will be no hope for her. There will be no help for her. Her earnest little face that struggles to form words will be walled up behind the gates of an ADULT MENTAL INSTITUTION. If she were to be fitted for an oral appliance much like a common retainer, the hole in the roof of her mouth would be covered until she matured enough and could have surgery.
A MENTAL INSTITUTION because she can't have a RETAINER!!!!

She will be 5 soon.

The Allens are in love, committed, and ready to bring her home. They have scraped, sold, and prayed, knowing that God has asked them to do this and has promised a miracle.
He will provide.
Just how he will provide is being revealed in interesting and exciting ways. One of those ways comes in the form of an all terrain vehicle.

Yup,an ATV.

A very generous donor has offered to supply to the winner of this giveaway a brand new ATV. Read about it and join in the fun here.

She will be 5 soon...

Monday, April 25, 2011

What an incredibly busy month April has been. I have been struggling to meet many deadlines, and in doing so, I have lagged behind in some of my other duties.
One of the issues has directly impacted a delay in a very important job. Namely, I am one of the many adoptive families who were hit with the "random" audit to insure that we qualified to receive the adoption tax rebate. It was no problem to have all necessary items for Dasha's adoption, having just completed it in August, but the February '09 completion of Biruk and Hanna's adoption left me rifling through all my past paperwork. I found that I still have receipts from Sveta's adoption in 1998 but receipts from 2008-9 are frustratingly absent. The IRS was kind enough to include a standard pre-addressed envelope to hold my supporting documents, but the 54 pages I compiled somehow didn't fit. All this to say that I am sorely lacking in funds that I should have readily available. A portion of our tax return had been allocated to finance the mission trip I am taking to Ukraine June 1. Airline tickets, travel expenses and supplies were all to be purchased with the tax return money. The money that they are withholding until they are sure I qualify to receive it.
We are tightening our belt and will make the trip anyway, but I am struggling to pay for shipping of many boxes of clothing I am sending to Nastia's orphanage in Slavyansk. So many people have donated gently used clothing and shoes, and I was going to pay for shipping. Unfortunately, due to the above situation, I don't have shipping funds right now, but the children still need it. Yesterday.
If any of you have any money you would be willing to donate to help pay for shipping, you can do so here.
All donations are tax deductible. If any of you are in my area and have any items you wish to donate, you can drop it off at my house, or call me and I will be glad to come pick it up.
Thanks so much!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sharing this again

This is a story I wrote a little while ago. I have posted this before, but it has been some time and I have some friends struggling with their children's transition. It is so hard to remember when you are in it and some days are so great and other days you question what you have done. I figured it might be time to share it again.
I hope you don't mind.

When every baby is born they are given a blanket. This blanket is supposed to be warm and soft and protective. It usually has beautiful colors and satin edging. It is wrapped around the baby and the baby is at peace.

Sometimes, the blanket is old. It hasn't been washed and it is made of burlap, but it is wrapped around the baby, and even though it is a little smelly and scratchy, the baby is at peace.

The blanket for this baby has big problems. There are holes in it. It looks like it had satin edging once, but that has been torn away. It may have had soft pastel colors, but it is now a dull and dirty brownish grey. It is wrapped as best it can be around the baby, and the baby clings to it for peace. But the baby is cold and can't get comfortable. Now, both the baby and the blanket are dirty and smelly, but it is the baby's blanket, and baby holds on to what little comfort it knows, and tries to have peace.

Suddenly, the blanket is ripped away. Baby cries and reaches for the blanket, but it is gone. Baby knows it wasn't a good blanket, a warm and soft blanket, but it was baby's, and with it baby knew the only peace that baby has ever known.
Someone has wrapped a new blanket around baby. It has pretty satin edging and soft fleece. It smells fresh and inviting, but baby throws it off. That is NOT Baby's blanket. Where is baby's blanket? Baby cries and cries as the new blanket is wrapped back around baby's body. Baby notices warmth that baby has never felt before. This is a trick. Yes it is warm, but IT IS NOT MINE!!!!! Baby had better not get used to this. Baby doesn't have a warm, soft blanket. Baby only knows the scratchy, dirty and cold blanket. Baby kicks it away.

Baby is cold and lonely and misses the old blanket.

Baby toys with the edge of the new blanket. Baby feels that it is soft and inviting. Baby can tell it is warm. Maybe baby will just hold the edge of this blanket for a while. It is not baby's blanket, but it is here, and baby is sad and needs comfort.
Someone keeps trying to wrap the whole blanket around baby, but baby still throws it off. Baby will only hold the edge. Why won't baby take the blanket? Can't baby see how much better this blanket is? It is warm, it is soft. Come on, it is polar fleece!! What is baby's problem? It is such a great blanket!!
Baby continues to reject the entire blanket, but is still holding on to the edge. Eventually, baby can cover one arm and rub baby's face with more of the blanket, but baby stops short of wrapping up in it. The new blanket providers have stopped trying to force baby to wrap up in the blanket, and have accepted that baby can't or won't use the whole thing, and have settled on waiting on baby. Sometimes baby brings the blanket to them and asks them to drape it over baby's arm in just the right way so that the satin edge touches baby's face the way baby likes it. This continues for a time and baby realizes that even though baby misses the old blanket, baby has a peace that baby has not known before. Baby thinks it might be this new blanket. Baby is torn. Baby misses old blanket, but old blanket didn't protect baby like new blanket does. New blanket is warm. New blanket smells good and is so very soft.

Old blanket is gone.

One day, baby needs help with the new blanket. Baby takes it to the ones who gave it to baby and they wrap it gently around baby's shoulders. Baby holds on tight to the blanket and baby is at peace.
I know I talk about a baby in this story. I do it so you think about just how long your "baby" has had that old blanket.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

sponsorship needs

Dear friends,
I know that there is so much need in the world and I know that you all yearn to fill it when you can. Currently I am looking for sponsorship to feed 27 orphans in Ukraine. It will cost $150 a month.
One person could meet the entire need or I could divide it $50 or even $25 a month. If you are interested, please leave me a message.
Thank you all for your prayers and support for orphans in need.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Time to take your medicine

By request, I have videoed Dasha taking her medicine. She takes Zerit, Kaletra, and Epivir. I realize that people may hate me after watching this because Kaletra is nortiously vile and it doesn't seem to phase Dasha in the least. On top of that, the 3rd med she takes is a pill that most people swallow. She chews it. I had to bite one in half once, it is really bad too. This is HIV management at our house. We do this twice a day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prayer Requests

I have been thinking a lot about prayer. About what we pray about. I have noticed a theme that has convicted me recently.

Think about the following prayer:

Dear Lord,
Thank you so much for your love and forgiveness. Thank you for loving me and giving me eternal life. Help me to honor and glorify you in my life.
Lord, I pray you keep us safe as we travel tonight. Watch over us and suround us with your hedge of protection. I pray that "xxx's" upcoming surgery is smooth and he has a rapid recovery with minimum pain...

Do you see it?

Safety. Keep us safe. Protect us.

So what's wrong with that?

Well, I don't think we are really praying for safety. If we are His children, the sheep of His pasture, what safer place could we be in than in the palm of his hand? After all, "... no one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:28
So what are we praying for then?

I think we are praying for comfort. Lord, keep me comfortable. I want to honor and glorify You with my life as long as I am not too hot or too cold or in pain or experiencing some extended illness. I don't want any part of that but I want to honor and glorify You. Really I do...


What if an accident on the way home is going to glorify Him? What if experiencing extended illness will glorify Him? What if loosing everything glorifies Him? What if adopting a child with severe emotional issues glorifies Him?
What if...
What if...
What if...

"Keep us safe, Lord," really means protect my comfort, doesn't it?

"I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world." John 16:33

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
Romans 8:15

I submit that this is not who we are supposed to be. We are to be strong and courageous. This specific command is heard over and over in the Bible.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Is there something you are supposed to be strong and courageous about today?
What are you staring down the barrel of?
Asking protection from?
I challenge you to remember who your Father is and change your perspective.
Stop focusing on safety and start committing to the honoring and glorifying.
Lest you feel judged, the above was my prayer, remember.
I challenge myself to do the same.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Help Mickey help Addison! Help Mickey help Addison!

Ok, so it sounds better when Tom Cruise says it that other way. So I'll try it. Help me help you! Help me help you...
make a difference for Addison.

Just look at this little stinker. She is clearly vibrant and full of life. In spite of the fact that she has lived her whole life as an orphan with HIV and a cleft palet. She faces imminent transfer if the her family doesn't get there soon. They heard the Holy Spirit's call and have answered with a resounding YES!
Now it's your turn. Your turn to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. I think he is saying, "Help her. Help me help you help her!"
How, you might ask?
Her family realizes that money is tight for everyone but they would really appreciate your financial help. So they have begun clearing out the house of every concievable item that is unnecessary. They have listed furnature on Craig's list. On top of that, they are offering a giveaway. Every $5 received between now and 2/28/11 will earn one entry into the giveaway for an exclusive figurine from the Walt Disney Classics Collection. It is the membership only millennium piece. Who wouldn't want that? Birthdays are coming, Mother's day is coming, St. Patrick's Day is coming. Here is your chance to get a bargain gift worth substancially more than $5. Not to say that you are limited to giving Only $5. Feel free to be as generous as possible.

Click on this link to donate. You can change the world, one child at a time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

It has been a while since you've seen "the Dash" in action so enjoy this snippet of Dasha singing me a song.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Home schooling opportunity

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

I'm looking into some additional work for my children to do and this was an excellent opportunity to try something for free!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


We are buried under snow.
The children are delighted. Even though we home school, I gave a snow day. Someone needs to shovel and last time I did, my back was in spasm for days.

I had another blizzard of sorts yesterday.

I received pictures of 7 orphaned children.

A blizzard of need.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of blizzard that is easy for most to ignore.

When is the last time you heard about orphans if you weren't looking for the information? Did you hear about it in church? On the news? Read it in the news paper?
It is the invisible blizzard. In fact if you, like me, carry a shovel and try to do anything about it, people look at you like you are crazy. What do you mean, orphan blizzard? Why do you want more kids? You don't need any more kids.

Mean while, 147 million orphans are burried.
Unknown and unloved.

I can't live with that.

So I rail against the storm of apathy.
These children exist. They belong to God. If we are his hands and feet, we must make a difference for them.

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Punish those who hurt others. Help orphans. Stand up for the rights of widows.

James 4:17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Proverbs 24:12 If you say, "We don't know anything about this," God, who knows what's in your mind, will notice. He is watching you, and he will know. He will reward each person for what he has done.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Davids knows

This is Davids after he learned of his family.
No words required.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Answer to prayers- God is good

Hi friends.
I just wanted to share that since this last post about Davids, a family has been found and over $3900 has been raised to bring him home. Many many people posted this story about Davids on their blog and facebook pages and prayers around the world have been lifted up for this boy.
Please continue to pray that all goes well for his adoption and if you are so inclined, donations are being collected at . Placed Davids in the memo and all proceeds will be placed in his grant fund to bring him home.
Thank you all so much for your prayers and support and remember that this is the story for every orphan waiting. A day comes when they can no longer be placed within a family. My goal is to keep that day from coming for as many children as possible.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The need is real

the following is a story about a boy that underlines why I advocate so strongly for orphans. The children are real, the problem is real and we MUST be the solution.

This story is about the blond boy in the middle of the picture. His name is Davids. His 16th birthday is coming up in days which means several things to an orphan. First, it means they are about to age out and can’t be considered for adoption. Second, it means that they are on the path to leave the orphanage and will soon be on their own. Third, it means life as they know it now; the little food, shelter, protection and security they currently have is almost gone. In the first year after a child leaves an orphanage, nearly 15% commit suicide.

A few months ago Davids was given the most hoped for news: a family was coming for him. He had been sponsored in America for the summer and shortly after returning to Latvia he was asked how he liked America. He explained he loved it, and it was more than he ever imagined! He was asked if he remembered a particular man who came to meet him and spent time with him the week before he returned to Latvia , and he exclaimed, “Oh Yes and we had fun!”
This man and his wife had decided to adopt Davids. When he was told, his look was utter shock! He questioned, “Who, me?”
They confirmed that it was indeed him.
He shouted, “Oh yes! VERY VERY much YES! And they want ME?”
Davids was the happiest kid on the planet that day. His dream was coming true.

Last week, an email was sent from his adoptive family… now just days before his 16th birthday. It basically said they felt that they would adopt a girl they met (which was planned all along), but they no longer wanted to adopt Davids. They had changed their mind. The next day, an unsolicited email from Davids' social worker in Latvia was sent. This is what she wrote:

"Hello Le Ann,
I wish to ask you about one of our boys, his name is Davids T. He was hosted Summer 2010 at a host family in IL. Since he was close to 16, we got information and you shared with him that there is family who will adopt him. It was not the family who hosted him, but another one.
Till this day we never received more information about the adopting family, and we confirmed that the Ministry also has no information yet. I must share, we are all worried and concerned. Davids became so nervous in this last month, his attention to everything is gone. Yesterday he was moved to hospital, because of problems with his stomach relating to the stress of not knowing. We know this all is because he is so close to his 16th birthday; it's on 23 January this year.
We don’t know what to say and can't say anything to Davids because we don't know. It will be a shock for him if it's not true, he has so long lived with this thoughts focused on this adoption and a family in America .
We wish to know the truth to share so he can know and be happy again.”

They have tried to contact the adoptive family and explain, show them, what their decision has done to this child. So far, there is no response, but more importantly, there is no time with only a few days that remain for someone to file the I800 with USCIS to adopt Davids’. It has been explained to his social worker in Latvia what the full situation is, and as a strong Christian, she has agreed to pray earnestly with us for a new family to come forward for this child! The adoption agency who was working on this case has agreed to do everything they can to expedite the adoption and assist where possible to get them through the system.
If you or someone you know is interested in moving NOW to adopt Davids’, this is what needs to happen:
1)You must already have an approved home study issued by a Hague Accredited adoption agency in the USA . It must be able to be amended to show you are approved for at least one child, a boy, who is age 16 or under.
2)You must be willing to file with the USCIS the form I800, which will specify Davids’ as the child you intend to adopt, and it must be received prior to January 23, 2011. If done, this gives the adopting family 180 more days to complete the adoption.

Please join us in immediate prayer and action to locate and identify Davids’ Forever Family!!! You are out there somewhere and God knows exactly who you are and He doesn’t make mistakes. We just need to get the word to you about him.
Le Ann Dakake, Director of Hosting Programs, New Horizons for Children 678-313-8321 cell
Cathy Sawyer, An Open Door Adoption: 404-667-0694

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thinking about the children who wait

I have been quiet lately here on my blog, but I assure you, here in my home, not so much. Lots have been going on, most of it very exciting, but I wanted to share the very real burden on my heart. I understand that if this is not where you are you may come away from this post feeling like you have been emotionally manipulated, but that is not my intent. This verse weighs on me. I understand what it means. It is a beautiful reminder of what Christ has done for me and it speaks exactly to what every orphan feels.

Romans 8:22-24
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?

I think this is a very moving passage. It speaks of our redemption in Christ. The pain of living outside of his family, our eagerness to be redeemed- adopted as sons and the hope we have that it will happen.

It is exactly what my children experienced before they were adopted into my family. It is the story of every orphan living today.

We know that they groan and suffer (is there anything more painful than childbirth? I think the seperation, the isolation from love and family and belonging, is the soul's equivelant pain.)
They are groaning within themselves (for there is no one else to groan to) wiating eagerly for their adoption, the redemption of their tiny little lives.
They hope for this, because it has not yet happened, as the verse says, who hopes for what he already sees? These children see no one coming for them... but they hope.
They hope for you, friend. They groan within themselves waiting for you to move as the Holy Spirit calls you to act. Waiting for their redemption from exile, to be adopted as your son or daughter.

This is the burden on my heart. It is what fuels the FIG program. I know that it is what motivates the people who have stepped up to advocate for the children still waiting.
If it is something that burdens you, contact me or go to . you can get involved.
You can make a difference.