Update on Greta

GretaRemember praying for little Greta? Well I have some good news. Her status on Reece’s Rainbow now says “My Family Found Me“! I spent some time trying to find out if her family has a blog, but so far no luck. Keep praying for this little girl. From what I understand, adopting from Ukraine works a bit differently than it does in other countries. While you can plan to adopt a specific child, until you go to Ukraine and are matched with that child in-person, there is no guarantee you’ll get him or her. You can read how the process works on the International Adoption Bureau of Consular Affairs website. The bottom line is, it’s awesome that a family has decided to make Greta their daughter, but both Greta and her family still need plenty of prayer!

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to keep praying for Olexander, the current A&P child. We’ve now prayed for eleven children! I admit it’s getting hard for me to remember all their names and needs. They all deserve to be remembered, though. When you have a few extra minutes, try scrolling through the list and praying for each of them.

Many thanks to Corina Lucas for posting on the TIO Facebook page to let us know the good news about Greta.

Updates On Two Of “Our” Kids

ArisAris
Aris was the very first Advocate & Pray child posted on this blog. If you’ve looked at all the things on the sidebar, you’ve seen her silhouette and read the snippet of her bio posted beneath. You may also have read the update saying that a family was interested in adopting her. I contacted her agency this week to ask about her status and they told me that the family did not move forward with adopting Aris. They also said that is a lot of uncertainty surrounding adoptions in Ethiopia at this time. PLEASE, keep praying for Aris specifically and for the orphans of Ethiopia and the issues surrounding them. Aris has continued to be heavy on my heart. Usually when people (myself included) look through the lists of waiting children, it’s a face that stands out. With Aris, something about her short bio just jumped out to me. This is a precious little girl who needs to be loved, and she’s very close to aging out of the system and losing her chance to be part of a family. Unless someone steps in after she ages out, this will leave her vulnerable to those who might exploit her. Again, please continue to pray for Aris.

VitalikVitalik
Praise the Lord for more encouraging news concerning Vitalik. God answered our prayers for him before we even knew to pray them. My missionary friend, Karen Springs, recently left a comment to let us know that friends of hers from Utah adopted Vitalik a year ago. How exciting to hear that!

The Others
So far we’ve prayed for nine children here on TIO. We probably won’t know what happens to most of them this side of heaven. Please don’t stop praying for them just because their two week segment is over. As I mentioned above, for some reason Aris grabbed a special place in my heart so I’ve continued praying for her and thinking of her. Maybe one of the kids has stood out to you to. We teens might not be able to adopt kids into our families, but we can adopted them into our prayer life for sure. And if you ever learn how one of these kids is doing down the road, please share with us! It’s always a special blessing to see how our prayers or answered or know how to pray more specifically.

Have any of the nine kids prayed for here on TIO particularly touched you? Which one? Is there a waiting child who hasn’t been featured here that you’re praying for on your own? Let us know and maybe we can feature him or her on a future A&P post.

Advocate & Pray: Greta

Greta
Usually every other week I post a poem dedicated to the current Advocate & Pray child (who would be Vitalik right now), but there are two reasons for posting Greta this week instead. 1) I’m a writer and I’m currently trying to focus on editing a book. Writing a poem takes work and concentration that I need to invest in editing right now. 2) Jennifer Worch, who is a mom working on adopting a child from Ukraine (one of the boys McKennaugh advocated for along with Katia), advocated for Greta on her blog so I thought I’d share here too.

Here’s what Mrs. Worch had to say.

Greta is in need of a home right away. She will “age out” of the adoption program when she turns 16 this November. In Ukraine, at least one parent must be 15 years older than the child, but there is no upper age limit for adoption here. There is no limit on the number of children in the family, either, so large families are welcome.

Greta’s grant fund currently has $20,000 in it. This will pay for almost all of her adoption costs. Please consider opening your heart and home to this little girl who desperately needs a home.

Greta is listed with Reece’s Rainbow

Greta is very petite; more the size of a 5 year old than the 13 year old she actually is. Developmentally, she is quite delayed, probably closer to a 3-4 year old. In many ways, she is toddler like. Greta is missing out on the essential things in life- a mama and daddy to teach her the things she needs to know, school lessons to maximize her potential for learning, and hope for a future.

From a family who visited with her in September 2012: “Greta desperately desires to be loved and shown affection. It broke our hearts to see how desperate she was for attention. She would climb up us before we even knew what was happening and was clinging to us. She probably needs to go to a family that can devote a lot of one on one attention to her, and that she be the youngest child, because she can get aggressive when she is jealous for attention. I hope this helps her find a family.”

Read more on Greta’s profile

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Join the prayer chain for Greta

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$20,000 raised for Greta, now she needs a family. Click to Tweet

Join me in praying for Ukrainian orphan Greta. Click to Tweet

A Baby by Christmas (part 2)

Hannah MillsDid you miss A Baby Christmas by Christmas (part 1)? Click the link to read it before continuing. 😉 And now, back to Hannah.

~*~

We arrived at the restaurant, and although I don’t remember exactly who arrived first, the initial moments were slightly awkward. Then it was like meeting old friends, or relatives you haven’t seen in ages and yet pick right back up with.

We started talking and just didn’t want to stop. We traded stories—Kara, worried that I wouldn’t understand, or would be angry at her, shared her story in more depth than my parents had been able to, and was relieved I was okay with it—and memories, gosh, a lifetime of memories. We talked about everything. Personalities, hobbies, favorite memories. We had a lifetime to catch up on.

We discovered I’m a lot like Kara and Kristy, and that Kara and my Mom basically have identical parenting styles, that all of us love to read, and that Kara has an artsy streak. My parents say that explains where I got mine, since neither one of them are very artistic. We have a lot of differences, too, but our similarities matter more.

Eventually we were the only ones left in the restaurant aside from the staff. We closed the place down.

Since, we’ve kept in regular contact. They, along with Kara’s husband, their two children, and my biological grandparents came to my eighteenth birthday party. We babysat on Valentine’s day so Kara and her husband could have a date night (that was a hilarious surprise to plan with him!). I went to the art museum with them and they came to a church pitch-in with us. Birthday and Christmas phone calls. Running into them at the State Fair. Meeting up for dinner. All in all…it’s been great.

Now I’m almost twenty, and having a family and then an “extended” biological family is just my normal. It sounds weird when I talk about it, but actually living it isn’t weird at all. It’s wonderful, actually. I know I’m the anomaly in that, that some people never meet their birth family/mother, or if they do, it doesn’t turn out well. But that doesn’t mean it has to turn out poorly every time.

Adoption is an amazing thing. Sometimes an incredibly hard thing, sometimes scary, but amazing nonetheless.

If you are an adoptive parent, please be as open with your child as their maturity level allows. Remind them that their birthmother does care for them. If she didn’t care, she could have gotten an abortion. If she didn’t want them to have a chance at an amazing life, she could have sentenced them to death before they ever experienced life outside the womb.

All the birthmothers I have met are beautiful people. They aren’t perfect, but none of us are. They have made mistakes, but all of us have. It takes a special person, a special strength, to carry a child and voluntarily give it to someone else to raise.

From the day they brought me home, my parents have emphasized those things and I believe that is the main reason I’ve never had a crisis of identity regarding being adopted, or resented it, or wondered if I was loved or “worth it.” Adoption is beautiful—please, don’t let the adoptees you know lose sight of that.

Advocate & Pray: Xiao

Fan Xiao ShuiThis little girl’s smile captivated me as I looked throught he waiting children listed with the Jing Yi Program. The Families Through International Adoption website explains the origins of the program’s name.

When we first started this program, we were saddened to learn of the passing of an infant girl whom we had hoped to find a family for. She was a newborn with Hep B and HIV, but wasn’t strong enough to survive. This little girl’s name was Jing Yi, which means calm, joyful, harmony. We decided to name this new program the Jing Yi Program to not only honor her short life but to remind us of how important it is for these children to receive the care they need, even before they are placed with their forever families.

Xiao is listed with Families Through International Adoption
China

Xiao is a beautiful 7 year old girl with knee valgus and incontinence. She appears to have had some type of spinal surgery prior to coming to the orphanage at 10 months of age. She had shown delays in language and mental development, but she has been improving every day.

She can take care of herself, crawls and can walk some by leaning on the railing. She is described as lively and cheerful and likes to sing while her best friend dances. Her caretakers say she is smart, polite and likes to give them a warm hug when they come to work.

Read More about Xiao (Scroll down on the linked page to find her profile.)

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Pray
Give Xiao the gift of your prayers over Christmas. Join the prayer chain for Xiao

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Share about Xiao on social media to help her find a family.

7 year old Xiao Shui needs a family. Click to Tweet

Give orphan Xiao Shui the gift of prayer this Christmas. Click to Tweet

Rahab’s Rope

You’ll probably hear me mention Orphan Justice pretty frequently on here. Reading it gave me a lot of blog post ideas. It also gave me some new ministries to look up. Rahab’s Rope was one of them. This ministry reaches out to victims of sex slavery. Please use discretion about watching this video, especially if you’re a younger teen. There’s absolutely nothing inappropriate. Just facts. But they’re hard facts. If in doubt, ask your parents.

Advocate & Pray: Sunny

Sunny In China, when a child turns 14, he or she no longer has the option of being adopted internationally. I noticed Sunny while exploring No Hands But Ours, and site/blog that informs, supports, and advocates adoption of special needs children from China.

Wonderful Sunny needs her family to find her soon, before she turns 14 and ages out in March of 2014! Her file is on the shared list. Sunny is described as a positive and active child. She has good self-care ability and gets along well with her classmates. Her favorite activities are dancing and playing sports. Sunny’s special need is post-operative congenital cleft lip and palate.

View the full post

Take Action

Pray
Join the Prayer Chain for Sunny
Pray That: A paper ready family would step forward to make Sunny part of their family and that Sunny would have peace, comfort, and faith in God.

Share Sunny’s story via blogs and social media
See sharing buttons at the bottom of the page.

Min Kyo (a poem)

Photo Credit: Jean Kim

Photo Credit: Jean Kim

Laugh you little baby,
As you crawl on the floor.
Hoping for the maybe,
A family to adore.

Keep waiting for the kiss,
Of those who always will,
Know what is amiss,
Or why you’re laughing still.

God who sees the sparrow,
Is surely watching you,
Guides down pathway narrow,
Someone to love you true.

Laugh again sweet baby,
Your father up above,
Knows each little maybe,
The path to family’s love.

(copyright 2013 by Leah E. Good)

Min Kyo-a poem

This poem was written in honor of the current Advocate & Pray child, Min Kyo. (Read about Min Kyo here.) To my surprise, shortly after posting about this precious little girl, a young woman I know contacted me to say that her family is inquiring after Min Kyo. She asked for prayer that, “if the Lord wills, he will break down any walls keeping her from her family.” Please pray for Min Kyo and this family who loves her.

You can join the prayer chain for Min Kyo by signing up to pray for a 15 minute slot each day for the next week. And, please, don’t stop praying after the prayer chain “expires.”

Please feel free to share this poem on your own blog, e-zine, etc. I just ask that you keep the copyright written below the poem and that you include a link either to this post or to Advocate & Pray: Min Kyo. It would also be wonderful if you could share a link to where you shared it in the comments section. Thank you!

Loving Katia (part 2)

Katia with dadMiss yesterday’s post? Read part of McKennaugh’s story here –> Loving Katia (part 1).

~*~

My prayers were answered when, after months of advocating, Katia’s story finally fell into the right hands. The Russell family read a poem that I had written about her in an Above Rubies e-zine and contacted me for more information. I sent them a long email about a child thousands of miles away with medical complications that I couldn’t even pronounce. They prayed. God answered. And the Russells started the year long process of adopting Katia. There were home studies and paperwork, dossiers and passports and fundraisng. When at last they got to Ukraine, they found Katia in an even worse condition. She was seven now. She was still fifteen pounds. After each visit they had with her, the Russells wondered if there would be another. Katia lay in her crib, seizing. But she lived. She was the weakest person that I have ever met but, somehow, she was by far the strongest, too.

Katia - homeKatia made it to the US. She was immediately admitted to a hospital here. Seizure medication, surgery, food. Food. Katia doubled her weight and grew four inches in 4 short months. Her blind eyes began to see. Casts shaped her legs, slowly, so they could bend. Her hair grew out and she has a mother to do it up in bows. She has three siblings always darting in to kiss her. She has a daddy to hold her. Now she is no longer a unwanted orphan child. She is someone’s daughter. The change is very visible. She is beautiful.

Every time I talk to Katia’s mother, Heather, or see a photo of this little girl, I think, “I came so close to giving up.” I had spent many endless days–months–trying to advocate for her and find her a family. For the longest time, it had come to nothing. I wondered within if I should give up. But I didn’t. I thank God I didn’t, for my words finally reached a family. I think that nothing in the world feels as good as knowing that you changed someone’s life. That you, with perseverance, helped a child leave a place where they were destined to live a life in a crib. I’m trying to say this in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m trying to collect credit for myself, because I’m not. I just want to say that anyone can make a difference…even a 14-year-old girl with Ukrainian soil on her feet who decides, “God wouldn’t want this child to die without hope. I can’t wait around for someone else to speak for her when I’m supposed to.” I wasn’t anyone special. I just knew that Katia deserved to have a childhood like I had had. It took a lot of time, effort, love and, most if all, a lot of God’s help. The point of this post is that teens can make a difference and that includes you. You can change someone’s life. All you have to do is try. Go for it.

~McKennaugh, age 17
Katia - after

Want to help a Ukrainian orphan? Yuri, a seven-year-old boy, is being adopted from Katia’s orphanage. I met him while I was there and he was the sweetest child. I was able to find him a family only recently and they are trying to raise funds so that they can bring him home. Visit the following link and consider donating to his adoption fund:  Hope for Yuri.

Have you ever seen before and after photos like this? (I haven’t!) How does this story touch your heart?

Loving Katia (part 1)

Katia with McKennaughI found part of McKennaugh’s story on The Rebelution blog. She’s a perfect example of what a huge impact teenagers can have in orphan care. I cried reading the story she sent about Katia. (Yes, there’s a theme here. I cry over everything related to this subject.) What really amazed me were the pictures of Katia. I’d never seen before and after picture like this. They are stunning, visual proof of the redemptive power of adoption. And now, please welcome McKennaugh.

~*~

I lean forward on the red-brown couch trying to get a glimpse of the next room. The workers were busy for a moment and the children, like always, were so quiet. As empty as it seemed, I knew that Davit, Vanya, Miroslav, and Katia were in there. Miroslav with his angel smile, Davit with the sad, longing eyes, Vanya with the giggle that made you just have to laugh along and Katia…Katia. Oh, how she needed someone. A mama, a papa…anyone. I stood slowly and walked to the door. Katia’s crib was in the corner. I crept over to it. A tiny little girl with huge blue eyes stared blankly up at me. I touched her stiff hands. “Pryvet, Katia,” I whispered. She flinched ever so slightly, but remained staring straight ahead. She was blind. I reached down, moving my hand along her legs. I cringed at the feel of them. They were bent at strange angles. And they didn’t bend. Not at all. She was fifteen pounds. She was six years old. Orphanage life is not kind.

Katia2Tears stung my eyes as I slipped my large hand over her baby fingers. Her medical needs were terribly severe. She had not received the care she needed here. It was a miracle that she had survived this long already. Time was not in her favor. I stood, fourteen years old and face to face with the unfairness of the world. If Katia had been born in the US she would have been a completely different child. She wouldn’t have been malnourished and still in a crib. Someone needed to help this little girl; help all the children here who were underfed and had no stimulation. They lived in cribs at the ages most kids should be going to school and spent each day hoping for love that never comes. But who would help? Almost no one outside of Ukraine knew of Katia’s existence. Then I realized that no one would advocate for Katia to get out of this place, no one would reveal her plight to the world. No one, unless I listened to God and did it myself. She was six. I was hardly over twice her age and, yet, she had to depended on me to do something. Our Lord can use the most unlikely people to make change.

Every time that I could, I would go to her and whisper some words before I was sent away. Sometimes I wondered if she really heard me and knew that I was there. One day she was crying and crying. It was the only sound in the place. I listened to the lonely echo of her wails, my heart hurting. I walked into her room and hurried to her crib before anyone could tell me not to. “Don’t cry, Katia,” I said gently. She instantly stopped. I was told to go out of the room. How I wished I could stay by her side! As I stepped away from her crib, she knew I was leaving. She started to whimper again. I had to try with all my might to stop my own tears, but now I knew that she heard me. She knew that I was there. “Someday, Katia,” I thought, “perhaps there will be someone who will hold you every time you cry and not have to leave.”

I spent seven weeks in that orphanage and each day made me wonder why my childhood had been full of love and siblings and laughter when these children had nothing and no one. When I came home to America, I knew that Katia needed an adoptive family immediately. I started by contacting magazines and e-zines, calling organizations and begging God not to let this child of His die before she heard the words, “You are loved.”

Katia with her mom

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.