Orphans, Sexual Abuse, and A Giant Need

Aila had an appointment yesterday with a GI specialist. I’ll spare you the poop-filled details, but after hearing her history, the doctor’s FIRST exam was to check for sexual abuse. Her first thought was abuse. Not a last ditch attempt to find answers, but the physician’s first thoughts went to sexual abuse because she said she sees it so often with orphans and especially kids with special needs. They have no one to protect them.

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the issue for Aila. And while I’m beyond grateful for that, it is heartbreaking that we even had to consider it.

I liked Aila’s orphanage. I liked her caregivers. They seemed to genuinely care for her. But, there is no substitution for a family. Every child NEEDS a family. I’m reminded of this truth a million ways each day, but this hit me hard today. Our daughter spent 29 months in an orphanage and we believe she was well cared for during that time. Other kids aren’t so lucky.

I recently read about a girl, Jianna, who is about to age-out of the orphanage. She’s almost 14 years old and if she doesn’t get connected to a family, she’ll be on the street on her fourteenth birthday. She needs a family. More than ever, she needs someone to stand up for her, to be her advocate, to protect her and to love her. There’s not a lot of opportunity for a young teenage orphan girl if she doesn’t get adopted. This sad reality is what leads to so many girls entering sex trade and falling prey to abusive situations.

We’re so grateful that Aila was kept safe. But our hearts break for Jianna and the others like her who don’t know what life in a loving, caring family is like. I appreciate everyone who’s shared her file in hopes of finding her family. Several families inquired about her, but at this point, she needs a family already in the adoption process. So right now I’m asking you to pray. Please pray for this girl and her family. Pray for God to move mountains in the next six weeks to get a family to this girl.

http://reecesrainbow.org/?s=jianna

Jianna, Reece's Rainbow

Jianna

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Day 2 – High Speed Train to Jinan

When someone says the word adventure, you either get excited or you tune out. Actually, I would argue that everybody is fascinated with the idea of adventure. That’s why we love good stories. We don’t make movies about the boring stuff of the day-to-day routine. No doubt some of that stuff is required for life but it’s the thrill of facing the unknown that makes stories worth telling. You probably don’t tune out. Not really, anyway. You’re probably just thinking, “I could never do that. I’m too ___________.” Or, “I don’t have enough _____________.” We’ve heard people say this a lot in the conversation of adoption.

When we were arranging travel inside China, we were given two options for train travel. One was safe and normal. One was labeled “adventurous.” There was no other explanation than that. We chose that. If you’re going to adopt a little girl from the other side of the world, you’re probably a little crazy already. I think it comes with the territory.

Families who’ve done this trip before us tried to prepare us for what to expect. One travel agency all but told us we were foolish. We stopped doing business with them. They also wanted to charge us almost double for our flights. Nope.

We decided to make this an adventure our family would remember forever. This is why we brought our kids, even though a lot of you looked at us like we’d lost our minds. A couple of you even (lovingly) told us so. Truth is, you’re probably right. But it takes a little crazy in the soup to give it some flavor. So, adventurous train? Yep!

Here’s the deal with the train. It goes about 250 mph through the countryside of eastern China. You have precisely 120 seconds to board the train. There are two doors on each cabin for boarding and exiting. Eighty passengers per car leaving and 80 new ones getting on. With luggage. In 120 seconds. There’s a fair amount of pushing and squeezing. Passengers are eating delicious looking food. I went back to the dining cart to do a little investigation but I can’t read the menu and the only thing on the counter is some jerky and something that looks like Pringles. I thought maybe I’d just point at a picture and pay for it but there are no pictures. Just a long list of items all written in Chinese. I knew I should have studied more. I’m getting hungry though so I’m gonna have to figure something out. Stay tuned…

We Made It – Day 1, Shanghai China

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I don’t really know how long it took. Somewhere close to 24 hours of travel. I did however figure how to get more hours out of the day. Simply fly West just ahead of sunrise. The flight was tight and exhausting but God showed his kindness to us. Our kids were stellar travelers; like they were old pros. Up at 3AM to catch the first flight, they watched a few movies, colored, played, snacked, and slept until we landed in Shanghai.

We’re all a little thrown off by the 12 hour time difference. Our driver delivered us to a beautiful hotel in downtown Shanghai. We got checked in and stumbled around downtown trying to read Chinese signs and ask locals for directions to a specific noodle and dumpling shop but we never found it. Instead we found the Chinese version of Piccadilly. Some adventurous foods in that place. Very cool old town district of Shanghai, though. Kids were quickly zapped of all energy, no longer able to walk. Poor guys. I tried to hail a cab twice but none of the cabbies could understand me. Probably my southern accent. Here’s a tip… take a business card from your hotel with you and show it to the driver. Thankfully, due to some creative thinking to the credit of my sister-in-law, she pulled out her room key and as fortune would have it, there was the address. Third cabbie agreed to drive us for the equivalent of about $2.50USD.

The hotel is great. We’re all about to pass out from exhaustion. Actually, as I look around, I think I’m the only one still awake at 8:30PM local time. Kelley and I have been awake since Thursday morning at 7AM so it makes sense to try and sleep now. The sound of snoring is filling the room.

Tomorrow after breakfast we take a train through the countryside to Aila’s city!!! We are just two days from holding her. Thanks for your prayers all along the way. Keep it coming.

Love you all. Good night from Shanghai!

R

So That Just Happened

Hilton Pier

Here’s what is heartbreaking to me. Hundreds of thousands of children – 128 million in fact – going to bed tonight without knowing the love of a forever family. Without a mom to tuck them in and re-tuck them in and then one more time, just in case the blanket shifted and just to steal one more kiss and to breathe in their scent and to push their hair out of their eyes and thank God for the gift, for the privilege of being their mom.

We’ve felt for some time now that God was calling us to adopt a baby with special needs. In the last few months He has started opening our eyes to the possibility of adopting a baby with down syndrome. Our initial plan was to pursue a domestic open adoption; someone local and someone we could maintain a relationship with, to grow our families together – birth mom, baby and forever family.

Over the course of the last few months, as we’ve been putting the puzzle pieces together, we’ve been connected with a network that coordinates adoptions of babies with Down Syndrome. They deal primarily with placing children in domestic adoptions. They just partnered with a big, well-known agency in an attempt to help find forever families for hundreds of waiting children in China. Over the last few months, this network has posted pictures of countless faces of babies that have grabbed my attention, faces that have frequented my prayers. But today, one face grabbed my heart in a way I can’t describe. My breath caught in my throat. We were in the car while Randall ran into the store. He returned and found me crying over this year-old baby girl, Adina. And I don’t cry often. And I certainly don’t like to admit that I’ve been crying my eyes out in the parking lot of a Food Lion grocery store while my husband is buying pita bread. I’ve pretty much been crying on and off all evening.

Throughout this process we’ve taken notes from other adoptive moms who have said you will have tough days, days where your heart breaks for your future child. They suggest that you record those days, write about them, remember those tears, because your child needs you. So pray now and then look back at these moments and you’ll probably find that God was leading your heart to care for your baby before you ever got to hold her.

So what does all this mean? So far, this adoption process has been God presenting us with opportunities and us following His lead on faith. The outcome isn’t always what we hope, but we continue to be obedient. We couldn’t ignore this opportunity. We needed to act. And I couldn’t go to sleep tonight without at least sending an email the Network. Which led to sending an official inquiry to the Agency. Which led to filling out a preliminary application. I hit ‘send’ and looked at Randall and said, “So that just happened.” He was busy learning Mandarin (so, when we hopefully go to China, he can now count to ten and recite the months of the year).

For now we wait. And pray. And we’re asking you to pray with us. Specifically, pray for Adina. I want to ask you to pray for her because I hope she becomes ours. But, even if we’re not approved, even if she already has a family trying to adopt her, pray for her anyway. Because tonight she goes to bed without knowing the love of a forever family. Pray for the Chinese government because so much of the approval process lies in their hands. Pray for Adina’s caregivers in the orphanage. Pray for her doctors and nurses. Pray for the agency handling her details. Pray for anybody and everybody connected to this little girl and the unfolding story being written by God’s heart.

-Kelley