Wouldn’t it be Great if ….

How often do we say that?

And, wouldn’t it be great if those “ifs” came true?

Just over two weeks ago (… which, to be honest, seems like a lot longer to me), I wrote about a little girl named Lera.  She was facing a monumental obstacle – she needed $25,000 in her adoption account by the end of the month, and at that time, the account only had a little over $4,000 in it.

It seemed like such a huge obstacle.  Was there any way at all to raise that amount of money in such a short amount of time?  I have to admit, I had my doubts.

About a week later, with Lera’s situation weighing heavily on our hearts, my mom and I decided to put together a yard sale to help raise funds.  At that time, Lera’s account still had a looong way to go.  But my mom said, “Wouldn’t it be great if Lera’s account became fully funded, and we had some left-over that could help someone else, too?”

At the time I was thinking, “um … sure Mom.”  I was trying to have faith that the funds could be raised so quickly … but it was definitely a stretch for me.  Was there really any hope for Lera?

Over the next week, we watched her account grow and grow … leaps and bounds that we could hardly believe.  What an outpouring of love and generosity, from so many people!  I know that many of you helped, and “Thank you,” hardly seems like enough to say … but Thank You! This little girl … even though she is so far away … gripped all of our hearts and wouldn’t let go!

Well, if you visit Lera’s family blog, you will see an announcement from Cathy that Lera’s account is fully funded.  The announcement might be a little early, as the money isn’t actually in Lera’s account yet.  But, they have a promise of a large donation coming … and as long as it DOES come, Lera’s account will be full.

Or … at least close enough.  Lera’s mommy, Diane, just told me that even with the large donation coming, they will be about $300 short.

$300?

That’s all?  A measly $300?

We can do $300!  I’m sure of it!  People have already given us cash donations that put us well on our way.  I’m SURE that our yard sale on Saturday can raise at LEAST that much … with maybe some left over to help another family.

And, I don’t blame Cathy for being excited … after all,

Lera is coming home!

So, come by our house tomorrow, and buy some stuff to help us get that last, pesky $300.  What an honor it will be to send that last little bit to the Higbie family.

With God, ALL things are possible!

 

P.S.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was some left over to help another orphan? If there is, the funds will go to Alexander for the Taylor family … who was going to be our Featured Family for this Friday … but I got a little too excited about Lera coming home!  So, click on the link and read about little Alex.  I’ll let you know more about him later.

Today, we’re celebrating! Thank You, Lord, for bringing Lera the funds she needs to come home!  Thank You, Lord, for saving another beautiful child!

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Matthew’s Baby

Have I ever mentioned how much Matthew loves babies?

I’m surprised we have a doll of any kind in our house-full-of-boys, but we do have one – and Matthew has claimed it as his own.  He rocks it, feeds it with a bottle, a cup, a bowl and spoon, or gives it a “taste” of whatever cracker or cucumber he happens to be eating.

He will also wrap up his baby in a blanket, lay it on a pillow, and tell us all “shhh!”  He gives his baby tender kisses, and even helps his baby sign “more,” and “please.”

If I forget to tuck his baby into bed with him, he reminds me by signing “baby.”  Then, I have to say, ” ‘night ‘night, baby!” and kiss the little plastic head before I say, ” ‘night ‘night, Matthew!” and kiss my sweet son.  He is gentle, tender, and hugs and pats his baby with great care.

Recently, a friend of mine came to visit with her 2-month old baby boy twins.  Matthew was absolutely taken by them … and we were, too!

He kept careful watch while they napped.  We didn’t have to tell him to be gentle or quiet – he already knew that.  But, he would ever-so-tenderly pat a back, or sweetly kiss on a forehead.

And, after naps, Matthew even got to hold the babies.  I know he felt like a “big boy,” but I still see my baby holding a baby!

… and lovin’ every minute of it!

Why Lera? … and other questions

FAQs:

Why Lera?

“You can’t save them all, Amy.”  I know.  I wish I could.  But, we CAN save Lera.  She has a family.  Their adoption paperwork is all in order.  The ONLY thing standing between Lera dying in an institution, and her being raising in a loving family, is MONEY.  I can’t stand by and let her slip through the cracks … again.

Lera has lost too many families.  The Higbies have lost too many children. It’s time for everyone to have their “happily ever after,” with daily challenges that involve speech therapy and self-help skills instead of corrupt Russian agencies and threats of institutionalization.

Why a Yard Sale?

“I thought you hated yard sales.”  You’re right – I do.  But, both my mom and I felt like we are supposed to do this.  And, when I feel like God is knocking at the door of my heart, I’m afraid I can’t say ‘no.’  The day after we decided to do this, so many things fell into place … so many things lined up perfectly … that we knew we had to do it.  I can’t share everything publicly, but here are a couple examples:

-one of my mom’s co-workers shared that he is getting married this weekend (Congratulations!).  He and his bride are both well established, and he was really wondering what do do with all of their “stuff” when they combined households.  He said the timing of this was “providential,” and he would be bringing truck-loads of household items to our yard sale.  “And, it won’t be junk, either,” he said!

-I made little cards to hand out to friends and neighbors with information about the sale, asking for donations of items as well as cash for Lera’s fund.  The cards also have information about Lera, with her family’s website.  I can’t share a lot, but let’s just say I happened to have a card with me when I ran into someone who really needed to hear her story.

-People have offered to donate a lot of stuff – big stuff, like a dining room set, a refrigerator, a cook stove.  Heavens!  WE might have to buy the dining room set!

Also, I thought that I will have a bunch of the cards at the yard sale, and hand them out to anyone who is interested in Lera’s story.  It will reach a completely new demographic – people who have never heard of Lera, never thought of supporting an orphan with Down syndrome, and help a few more people know that children with an extra chromosome are wanted and valued.  Of course, the cards also have information about the fund-raising give-away, and how to make a cash donation!

And, I’ll be honest … when I ask my friends and neighbors to donate “stuff” to the yard sale, I’m also hoping they will make a cash donation to her fund. And, they do.  Because we live in a world with a lot of really wonderful people.  Already, as we tell people about what we’re doing, they say “I’ll bring some stuff by, and I’ll donate some money for her, too.”  Thank you, everyone.  Thank you.

And, this yard sale will be easy. Lots of people are bringing stuff, so I don’t have to gather tons of my own stuff.  We’re not pricing anything, because it’s all for charity – we’ll ask what people are willing to pay for the items they want, and go with it.

Now we need people to BUY STUFF!

Come by my place – Saturday, March 26th 8am-1pm.

After Lera, are you just going to ask us to donate to more orphans?

Maybe.  If I feel like God wants me to advocate for more orphans, I will.  You don’t have to support them all … but if God is knocking at the door of your heart to help Lera come home … or to help any of the other orphans come home … you’d better say yes!

The difference is that Lera’s family doesn’t have time to raise funds for her.  Most other adopting families spend a year or more doing their own fund-raising, applying for grants, and saving everything they can in order to afford the adoption. 

Most of the other orphans still have some time to raise funds and save.  Lera doesn’t.  If the Higbies don’t have $25,000 in their Reece’s Rainbow account by the end of the month, she’s lost to an institution.

How do you know this sob-story is legitimate?

There are scams out there, I know.  But, the Higbies are a dear friend-of-a-dear-friend of mine.  Additionally, all the funds that we donate will go into Lera’s Reece’s Rainbow account, which is a very reputable organization.  My mom and I both researched it well before we started making donations.  All of the money will go where it’s supposed to go – I promise!  If you don’t believe me, research Reece’s Rainbow for yourself!  I dare to you to find anything negative about it.

Additionally, a small percentage of each donation over $20 goes into Reece’s Rainbow’s General Fund – which helps provide education for birth families in Russia and Eastern Europe, working to help families get the knowledge and support they need to keep and raise their babies with Down syndrome, instead of placing them in the orphanage.  Ultimately, the goal is that kids like Lera will be raised and loved by their birth families instead of ending up in the orphanage to begin with.

So … When are you going to start fund-raising for your own adoption?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Visit our house for a day, and then ask me.  My 3 boys keep me pretty busy right now!  We are definitely open to more children in the future, though, and have even felt the tug of adoption … but just not yet. 🙂

Friday’s Featured Family*: Pudge & Biggie

An inspiration, a wonderful story, and an adorable family!

If you need some encouragement this week, you need to visit Pudge, Biggie, and their parents on their blog:  http://pudgeandzippy.blogspot.com/.  I betcha can’t visit their page and NOT smile.

It’s a story of a young couple who adopted not only one, but two children with Down syndrome and heart defects … because they wanted them.  They tell the story better than I can, and share their journey with laughs, photos, and lots of love.

But, you really need to read the backstory of their adoption journey, and especially the history behind their story.  That’s what truly got to my heart this week.  It’s the story of a grandfather, whose life and character were shaped by having a brother with Down syndrome.  It’s a story of a granddaughter in awe of the good in her Grandpa Charlie, and his compassion and joy.   With great love for a great uncle, they decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to give their own family that same gift.

They want you to know that their beautiful children were not unloved or unwanted by their birth families.  Quite the contrary:  their birth mothers loved them so much, they gave their children the greatest gift of all:  a family.  A family able to provide their children with every opportunity to thrive – to meet medical and developmental needs, to provide for a stable financial future, to work with the whole team of therapists, teachers, doctors, and caregivers that every child with special needs requires.

And, Pudge and Biggie’s parents are forever grateful for the amazing gift that their children are.

. . .

*Each Friday of lent, I will feature a family who has adopted, or is planning to adopt a child with Down syndrome.  First, to help make everyone aware that these kids are SO very wanted, and secondly, to help the families that are opening their hearts to welcome these little ones.  The adoptions are expensive … there’s no way around it.  Adoptions from Eastern Europe, where there is the greatest need, cost around $35,000.

This week, Lera still needs your help.  Is there an extra lenten sacrifice that can free up $5 or $10 this week?  (I originally misunderstood how much she needed in her fund – I heard the family needed $18K, but it was $18K MORE than they had in their fund, for a total of $25,000.  The adoption costs $35,000, and the family has $10,000.  So, there is still a long way to go.)

We will be hosting a yard sale for her benefit next weekend … details to follow.  (For those of you that know me, you know that putting on a yard sale really is penance!) What can YOU do to help save one more?

. . .

In other news, Melanie’s adoption fund is now fully funded!  Thanks you everyone who gave so generously to bring this angel home!

Guess Who We’re Going to See?

I just bought our tickets!

We are going to see Rachel Coleman, perform live in Portland next month.  I wonder if she realizes that her biggest fan will be in the audience that day?

We have joked that if Matthew was granted just one wish, it would be to meet Rachel, Leah, and Alex in person.  When we found out Rachel was coming to Portland, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her.

… Now, all we need is some fossils for Micah, and a giant ball-pit for Jesse to make all of our boys’ dreams come true!

Lera

Update: Because there has been $2,000 raised for Lera since yesterday, the Russian agency has given the Higbie family until the end of the month to complete their fundraising.  Hooray!  They still have a long way to go, though ….

. . .

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

James 1:27

I was going to save this for Friday*.  But it won’t wait that long.  SHE can’t wait that long.

Lera’s family needs to raise $18,000 by FRIDAY, or her adoption is going to fall through.

You see, the Russian government is not making this adoption easy for the Higbie family.  Among other obstacles they have faced, the Russian agency just rejected their family portraits because they weren’t “professional” enough.  It’s ridiculous!  The Higbies just want to bring their little girl home.

And, in the meantime, little Lera has been transferred to a mental institution.  That’s right – this sweet little one is spending her days neglected in an Eastern Europe institution.  And, the Russian government has told the Higbies that unless they can prove they have $35,000 by FRIDAY, they will not be able to adopt her.

I KNOW we just asked for help for Melanie … but if you are able, please give what you can to Lera’s adoption fund.  Click here to make a donation through PayPal.  Pray.  Only God can make this happen, so pray and pray.  Spread the word – blog about it, send emails, post on facebook or whatever you can do to spread the word.

My good friend, Cathy, has organized a fund-raising effort for Lera, which includes a fun raffle of great prizes if you make a donation.  Click here after you donate, and leave a comment on the fundraiser post, and you’ll be entered to win an iPad2, a flip video camera, and more!

 

*Each Friday of lent, I plan to post the story of a family trying to adopt a child with Down syndrome.  First, to help make everyone aware that these kids are SO very wanted, and secondly, to help the families that are opening their hearts to welcome these little ones.  The adoptions are expensive … there’s no way around it.  Adoptions from Eastern Europe, where there is the greatest need, cost around #35,000.

Is there an extra lenten sacrifice that can free up $5 or $10 this week?  Would you be willing to skip your latte and give to Lera instead?  If you round up the spare change in your house, does it add up to a few bucks you can give?  You could also host a bake-sale, a yard-sale, or a car wash to benefit this family.  If everyone who sees her picture donates just $5 or $10, she will be home in no time.

Help save one more.

From Lera’s Reece’s Rainbow site:

Bob and Diane’s lives has been woven with joys and heartache, but every step of the way Jesus has walked with them.  They talked often of, and prayed to have more children.  God met them with the strength to endure miscarriage after miscarriage. They lost twin boys at birth in 2000 from congenital heart defects.  In 2003 the family grew when social services placed in their care a beautiful 5 month old little girl.  She was neglected and failure to thrive.  They were told this one has” no capacity to learn, she’ll never amount to anything”.  Diane remembers, “The first moment I held her and looked into her sweet little face she had my whole heart in her tiny hand, leaving behind 22 years of pediatric nursing to be a stay at home mom. The big girls loved it and the new baby needed it.”

Two years later in  November of 2005, April Rose was adopted into the family. Several miscarriages later they decided to try international adoption.  Working with Holt, they were matched with 2 sisters, ages 3 and 5, from Haiti. Disaster struck when in late summer 2008, a tsunami hit Haiti and the orphanage where the girls were housed was totally distroyed and the girls perished.   The family looked to God for peace and comfort.Then came the biggest blessing…pregnancy #20…Lillian Grace was born March 13,2009 by c-section at 34 weeks due to placental failure.   She came to them exactly as God designed… Down syndrome, PDA, Coarctation of the aortc artery, 2 ASDs and 7 VSDs, and severe pulmonary hypertension.   She spent the first 8 months of her life as an inpatient in heart failure.   The family was told she wasn’t viable, not a candidate for open heart surgery, “take her home and love her while you have her”, was their advice.

It was with Lillian’s Down syndrome that Diane became so involved in the DS community. It was through blog entries by other members of that same community that on April 23 Bob and Diane became aware of Lera.  There were no hours perusing the internet looking at pics of orphans or long deliberations, just Lera’s plight that left them no choice.   God, through Lillian’s journey, had prepared them for this moment…to say yes to Lera.  The whole family excitedly looks forward to the day that Lera will join them in name, she’s already in their hearts and prayers.

Let’s Bring Melanie Home!

The Sader Family is so anxious to bring their daughter home.  She will join a beautiful big sister, who has also been blessed with an extra chromosome, and she will finally be an orphan no more.  Her adoption fund is SO close … just a few thousand dollars more, and she will know the love of her family.

My friend, Cathy, is hosting one last fundraiser for Melanie.  Just click here to donate to Melanie’s adoption fund, then visit Cathy’s blog to be entered to win an ipod touch, gift cards, and other great stuff!  Please be generous – let’s get this beautiful girl home.

I love watching these adoptions – watching families envelop a child in love – families that so desperately want a child with Down syndrome that they will go to the lengths and expense that these adoptions involve.

If anyone were to question if children with Down syndrome are wanted, he would have to look no further than the hundreds of families who are waiting to adopt them.  These families go to such lengths – applications, home evaluations, travel, and wait years, anticipating the day they get to bring a beautiful child home.  They pay $20,000-$30,000 for a foreign adoption, because the governments of Eastern Europe know that American families want these kids so badly that they will pay the huge fees to adopt them.

Sadly, there are not many kids with Down syndrome available for adoption in our own country, because most mothers choose to not give them the gift of life … maybe they don’t realize that there is a loving family who has been wanting and praying for a child just like them.

Remember this post?  We saw a notice in a local church bulletin that a baby with Ds needed an adoptive family.  Before I could even call to see what I could do to help, there had been an “extraordinary response,” and she had several families who wanted her.

It warms my heart.

Thank you for helping make all of this possible.  … Let’s get another one home.