Family 2013

Family 2013
Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Freedom day-leaving all the familiar ,facing reality

 checking out HIS new clothes

 He wanted to just take the bag and leave. He didnt realize he had to leave his "old skin" behind. In the orphanage you leave with literally the skin on your body. Old clothes, down to underwear and socks you can not take. All new clothes to start a new life.
 A man we see eating out of the dumpster every few days. I share this to be sure you remember this COULD BE THE FUTURE of many of the orphans who age out of the orphanage. If they dont have a drive to learn a skill or career, if they fall victim to abuse or alchol , this will be them. It is a sad everyday site. Eating out of dumpster to LIVE.

 Look at how skinny his leg is at 8 1/2 years old. He is one skinny kid.

 Sasha got to play with his buddy little A one last time. Really sweet kid. I am praying his forever family finds him. Everyday in this envirorment damages these kids horribly.

 Wide eyed driving in the Machina! He chanted Machina, machina ,machina as every . car. passed :)

 Relaxing for a minute with Giana
 Celebrating Sasha's Gotcha day with friends out to dinner :):)
Halya, our facilitator, Lindy and Guy House, Me and Giana, sasha , then Wil and His new son, Laura his wife, Sergey their translator and their other new son is on the end, hidden :)
Halya and us :)

I would LOVE to tell you Sasha fell asleep dreaming happy dream all peaceful his first night . But that would be a huge lie.
He struggled horribly. He was scared, and mad, and totally freaked out. It was awful. Awful. Did I say awful???
He rocked, and stimmed, and bit his hands, he banged his head over and over hard! He spit at me, he hit me, and he picked his nose and tried to wipe it on me while growling like a crazy person. He pooped in his pants.

Too much info?

This is the reality.

These beautiful awesome kids are broken and scared. They have zero coping skille. Zero life or family skills. He cant understand me. He has been abused and neglected. Every single sound or smell or sight totally and completely overwhelms his senses.

Around midnight I begged my facilitator Halya to take him to her room. I was scared and so freaked out. I could NOT help him to relax.
She could. He slept. Finally after midnight....

Happy first night free.

Things were much the same the second night. I have been blessed with amazing new friends. Wil and his wife offered to come over and help me. He prayed over Sasha and spoke powerful affirming words over him, all while being in the throws of a battle. It was tough. But it helped to ease Sashas fears.
Now bedtime is NOT a scary battle. He lays down, we read, look at his photo album and pray. He rocks and stims but not violently. Then he goes to sleep.

One day at a time.
But the battle is far from won. The demons he battles are still here. The damage still needs to heal.
He spasms and twitches and chants, and grunts and moans. He rocks. He does bang his head when frustrated or mad. Or sad.
But he does smile. And he does seem to enjoy his new freedom.

We have issues each day. I see glimpses of improvement too. This has been a really hard journey. It will continue to be a hard journey. I really need prayers for Sasha to continue to heal. To trust. To over come.

I need prayers also. To remember to be calm and full of grace
. I was not ready for the reality of how broken and damaged a child can become in 2 years . The battle to heal him.
I am a work in progress. God pushes us harder and harder so we HAVE to lean on him.
I have to lean. I cry, and I pray.

We have been here 7 weeks. I am SO TOTALLY tired and homesick. I want to hug ALL my babies.

Please advocate and pray for all the kids I posted about. They are all so deserving of getting a family and a chance at a real life!

Sorry for any errors, Im not spell checking or re reading. Too tired :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Getting to know these little people

First let me just clarify. During the summer months the orphanages send kids school age to summer camps. They leave the routine and orphanage environments they are used to, including caregivers they know,  and are sent away.Many times kids are joined together from different orphanages.  Can you imagine? Having the little security you have taken away, then to have the "normal" you know gone. They load up old buses and off they go mostly to way out of the way towns with very old poor buildings.  And very limited staff. Erase the idea you have in your mind of summer camp. No bright colors. No fun activities. No fun filled days. No camp fire songs and roasting marshmallows. Think more like wake up , quick breakfast of mush, a piece of fruit from the local farm, and out the door you go to play and wander outside in the very hot weather until lunch time. Thats it. Drinks come at the scheduled time. No , it doesnt matter how thirsty you are. Not enough staff to pass out drinks whenever kids want them. Bathroom breaks? ha! No. These children go outside . They more delayed children, bless their hearts, stop and go where ever they are. Be it next to a bush, or next to your shoe. It is not their fault! They simply do not know better :(
These camps can be on the shores, or just a different orphanage. Typical children usually go to the nicer camps on the sea. But still it is not the fun packed camp we would think of. Kids spend their days wasting time and wandering around. Imagine leaving your 5-17 year olds outside most of the day unsupervised with other 5-17 year olds.... it is a recipe for trouble.
Children deemed "special needs" or "Mentally delayed" depending on the severity of their condition and the opinion of the person evaluating them, will go to a "camp" on a lake (no one watching them most of the time) or to a emptied orphanage for the summer months. Thats where our little guy went. An emptied orphanage internat that was doing repairs while the regular residents are away at another "camp" In  a remote town , to a large empty orphanage internat up on a hill, in the middle of nowhere.The blessing in this is we got to spend hours with some really amazing kids and get to know and love them. We have even found families for 2 children who no one seemed to know were here !  Children who have parents who leave them at the orphanages during the week, or school terms (this sad thing happens WAY more than you would like to believe) are required to take them home for the summer months.
While we were at the "camp" M where our little guy was sent with some of his classmates we encountered a handful of caregivers who seemed to like the kids and were kind. We also encountered a few that were very harsh. And I imagine the night caregiver and the weekend caregiver are the harshest :( I say this because the kids were very clingy and whiny on the weekends. Also a few  children were sporting brand new cuts and bruises that were clearly from abuse. Black and blue buttocks in various stages of healing. Purple , yellow, blue. Large 2" bruises that look like slash marks going up the leg and hip of a skinny little 7 year old girl. Up the whole thigh and hip. A black eye and split lip plus various cuts and bruises on a sweet gently slow moving little boy with Cp. It  disgusts and angers you. You feel  powerless. You want to shake someone!

 This beautiful angel little A :) His laugh and joy warms your soul. He has hemi Cerebral Palsy and get around just fine. My facilitator speaks with him and she says he is a smart little guy. He LOVES when we are there because we lift him into the swing and onto the slide. He is unable to do that on his own so he is left to sit on the bench. He is a joy. The anger we felt over seeing his beat up face and bruised bottom was crazy. But who cares how we felt? Can you imagine being so helpless and being abused? This sweet child deserves better! He is papers are not cleared for adoption yet, but are being processed. I will be shouting with joy when he can be adopted!!!
These bruises in person were clearly a spanking gone nuts. They next day the bruises were dark purple and blue. She was VERY clingy and not herself for several days after this :(

Yet..There is NOTHING you can do.
Find families. One. child. at a time!
So please take a look at these beautiful amazing little survivors that have wrapped themselves around our hearts :):) Can you pray for them? Some are not available for adoption :( others are just waiting and waiting. To be Picked :)
Maybe. Just maybe. You will be looking at YOUR CHILD.
 This little cherub is an example of a child from a very poor farm family who brings her to live at the orphanage during the week, and brings her home on the weekends. Can you imagine choosing this environment for YOUR child? You can see by the light in her eyes and her plump little limbs she is cared for . Her family loves her I am sure but feel they have no choice. Its not a judgement but a sad reality.

 Wow. What can I say about this little beauty? Sweet little "S" wrapped herself around our hearts QUICKLY. This child is a survivor and a rare little gem in this crazy world of hers. She is considered special needs because she has an easily treated condition here in the states. I spent  hours with her, and have never seen anything out of the normal. She is FUNNY , and smart, and affectionate, and helpful :) All the caregivers rely on her to run errands, fold laundry, find kids, answer questions. Too much really but she is responsible. She wiggled her way into our visits with our little guy, and quickly we looked forward to seeing her as MUCH as seeing our Sasha! I knew I loved her the day my husband was a bit grouchy, and she looked at him and said (thru our translator) "it is easier to laugh then to cry, now smile!"
This beautiful abandoned child sharing words of wisdom with my husband!   I would have adopted this sweet little beauty in a second. Wanted to.  But unfortunately she belongs to the M orphanage and my guy was only here for camp. It would have meant another complete adoption and my home study was not approved for a child her age. :( I was crushed. The burden of leaving her here..all alone was making me ill. Then an amazing thing happened! By posting her sweet face on Face book, and sharing what a gem she was HER MAMA FOUND HER! A friend of ours from back home, took one look into  her sweet eyes and KNEW she was looking at her daughter! God worked this all out :) I have peace knowing sweet "S" will have a family to love her and protect her. She will thrive in a family ! Shoot- this kid has managed to thrive here ! That is very hard to do ;)
 This gorgeous child is HILARIOUS! Another gem! He would be such an amazing light in a family. He is funny and smart and just a joy! Sadly he comes from a broken  home and was removed. His papers to allow him to be adopted are in process, but no way to know when that could be. I ask that you pray for him, to not lose the light in his eyes, and the innocence in his heart. He really is a neat kid. Pray that his paperwork is completed and he can be adopted before that joy is stolen away from him.
 This little guy is smart! And loves food! He tries to trick me into giving him several granola bars, even though his mouth is FULL :) When he sneaks into my backpack , he holds up 2 fingers to tell me he is getting 2 more darn it! My husband told him no , to get out of my bag and he was so funny-he started flicking my husbands arm and kicking dirt on his shoe! Really spunky kid but gentle with his friends and loves to sit on my lap.  I completely understand the need to get as much food as you can NOW. He is trying to survive :( He is available to be adopted :) He would be a really neat kiddo to add to a family. Smart little guy ! Physically capable. I'm sure he has a label of mentally delayed -they all do. This life would delay anyone!

 Little A   found this workbook page outside and you would have thought it was a new Barbie doll! She was SO excited and wanted to just study it. Giana would try to tell her what was on the page, and she listened so intently and repeated it. I got the sense she really loves to learn.
 Little A on the left side. You can see how tiny she is. She didn't feel good this day. I felt bad for her.
Oh sweet little "A" ! This baby NEEDS a mama and a papa. She has a sister that she has been separated from :( They were together at the baby house (see my last post) She doesnt see well out of her right eye, and walks very slowly because of this. She is tender and tries to stay out of the fray. BUT if you make the effort to connect with her you will be rewarded! This baby is light as a feather and tiny (this picture makes her seem bigger then she is) and she loves to be hugged! Her face just lights up when she realizes you are actually TALKING TO HER! She has separated herself from her crazy world because it is easier then being hurt more , I would guess. Being alone is NOT where she wants to be, She lights up and interacts given just a bit of kindness and love :) Her sister is much the same way! We found her all alone back at the baby house, standing off , all alone holding a truck :(

No eye contact or even a clue she knew we were there. UNTIL Giana went over to her and started blowing bubbles! That caught her interest. Then I went over and gently stroked her hand with my finger. Then her arm. Then I slowly rubbed her cheek...and oh so slowly a tiny tiny smile started!! I scooped her up put her on my lap and proceeded to let her sit there for almost the next hour! THIS BABY WANTS TO BE INCLUDED AND LOVED!!! These kids just shrink into themselves to avoid hurt and rejection! These beautiful girls NEED a family. They NEED to be back together!! Not separated by 90 minutes of 80 miles per hour driving! Please consider them! They are beautiful and tiny and so sweet and gently. Yes, they have some mental delays. Who cares?? They will thrive and blow peoples minds if just given a chance! This is the link to their listing on Reece's click HERE.

 Working on getting her to warm up to me. Didn't take long once she knew I cared about her :)

This is C ! Samantha's SISTER!! TELL ME THESE GIRLS ARE NOT PRECIOUS!! She is tiny and such a doll baby :) She needs a mama and a papa to bring these girls back together and love them!  PLEASE consider them . Please share their info! I would love to talk with anyone considering them !!! They are precious.
This beautiful boy is "A" he stole Giana's heart :) really a smart loving kid.He is said to have ADHD. And he is in an orphanage for the mentally delayed. Wow.  It blows my mind how these kids are labeled Mentally retarded, Mentally delayed, Psychological delay and they seem just like any other kid although behind a bit due to living here! These labels are a dangerous thing. GOOD news is he is the child who had the family come from Canada and they are adopting him !  
(update- the couple have returned him to the orphanage. They are NOT adopting him. They hoped for a child that is smarter, with no institutional delays)
 Sweet "s" and me again :) Did I say how much I love this kid????

Sweet S and Sweet L - I need to do a post on L on the next blog post...AMAZING CHILD.
This little guy is older maybe 10? He is the bravest kid. BOTH of his feet are twisted in. Imagine both your toes pointing to the opposite ankle. Completely makes a line that he stands on . AND he runs and walks and climbs ! He is amazing! Seems smart and loves to talk. I am working on finding out if he is free to be adopted.  This kid will go places if given the chance!

Here you can see this beautiful boys feet. They are literally crossed completely. And yet it does not stop him! A real hero this kiddo is .
More on this sweet baby. We call he blue eyed baby! Her name is A and she is free for adoption!! I will post more on her next post. She is precious.

This is beautiful "A" before the beating. He is a happy joyful kid who claps with joy whenever something makes him smile!  

I have several more kiddos to share with you all in my next blog post. They are all so deserving of a life much better then they have been dealt. I cant help but pick up each one that raises their arms to me. Kiss each cheek and whisper how good and special they are in their ears. I search out the child in the back, who stands there so forgotten. I WANT to work to earn their trust. To be blessed by their smile. I am so much richer for the experience this trip has given us. I have to say I am beyond proud of my Giana. She just jumps right in the middle of the kids. She doesnt care if they are dirty or sticky, or even on the day none of the girls had on underwear ....she would just smooth down their dresses and pick them up and love on them anyway. She makes us proud :)
God had a purpose in sending us way out here in the EE countryside :) And I am SO glad he chose us!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We had court !!!

 First official "Sasha" photo :) Introducing Sasha Falvo  We love you so much little guy! You are going to make your mark in this world! God has big things planned for you sweetie :)

 Family photo with the Asst Director of his Orphanage

The judge requested our little guy be in court to answer questions. :/ you can imagine how nervous we were for him. Folks here do not understand the desire to add a special needs child to your family. It truly baffles them. In there defense their lives are much harder then ours and they do not have access medical care or therapies that we do. So will Sasha being very twitchy, stimming, and biting his hand we were worried :(
He did AMAZING! He was bored and nervous at first and continued to roam around the court room, the judge finally told the director to just let him be, "he is a child, let him walk" :) Sasha settled down next to the secretary and she let him draw on paper (he CAN hold a pencil!!) and he settled right down.
When the judge finished asking us a ton of questions and Giana a ton of questions, he turned to Sasha and said "Where is mama and papa?"  Sasha stood up with a shy smile and pointed to us!!! (happy dance, tears ya know ;)
Then he asked him "where is the judge?" Sasha pointed out the window! Lol..too funny. Everyone laughed :) I dont think the little guy has any idea what a 'judge'  is :)  Over all it went really well.
 the judge ruled favorably but now we have to wait thru the  10 day waiting period for any appeals that may rise. After the court session the judge gave us all a large plate of fruits from his garden to enjoy! Nothing like fresh healthy fruit! The fruit here is SO good. It smells delicious and is just so sweet and dripping with juice :)
Celebratory lunch :) twice cooked potatoes and stewed cabbage with dill. SO good!

Getting to court day has been 26 days in the making thru many delays, frustrations, and upsets. It was such a victory! This little guy has been on our hearts for 2 years and finally we are his parents :):) Thank you so much for all your prayers and encouragement! It really means so much to us!

Michael has to go back to work, so he will be leaving :( tonight. Giana and I will be staying here for another 3 weeks. We have some good friends new and old in town, so we wont be alone. We actually feel pretty comfy here , and walk everywhere so we will make the best of it! Our little guy is being transferred back to his orphanage "V" so the drive will be 45 mins vs 90 mins. Sad though to not spend time with many of the kids who are staying at the camp orphanage. It breaks my heart to not be able to love on them and tell them they matter. Such a sad life for an orphan :( you really have no idea.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Too much reality for a child to handle

2010 baby house group

This picture was taken in 2010. You can see our Benji with Sasha in the front middle. 6 children in this picture are here, at this "camp" orphanage way out in the middle of no where. They were all transferred here. They are considered special needs children. They are delayed. They are hidden. They are all perfectly and wonderfully made by God. They are all a joy. Slowly look at this picture. They scroll down and match up each child. All 6. Do you see the changes? Can you see what transfer to school / institution for mentally delayed kids does to their little souls? Can you even imagine? 
Our little guy now. SO tiny and thin. He smiles shyly then looks away quickly. He would rather play away from everyone and just watch. His world has changed so much in 2 years.
Here is "A"  She is samantha on reeces She is available for adoption. She is very small and shy. But lights up when we interact with her. I think she may be very near/far  sighted too, she walks slowly up the stairs and seem to feel for each step. Glasses would make her life so much easier and more pleasant. Such a little thing. She loves to sit on my lap quietly and just be with me. She would bloom with the love and protection of a family all her own. She does have a younger sister who I have not seen here. I have no idea if they can be separated. Her sister is in the top picture on the way right. Samantha is on the way left with pigtails.
Little blue eyed baby :) This child brings out the protective mama in me. She is in the top photo back row, in front of my husband. What a change. This little one is so alone in the world. She will take her little duck toy and rock or swing it all by herself. She never asks for a hug just stands quietly behind us. She does not expect anyone to care about her :( When we pick her up she melts into a hug trying to feel every bit of our warmth . She needs a mama to love her. She will go to a mental institution the next time they decide to move her. She truly has no chance here :(
This is little water boy. He is on the back row, with the dot on his head. He is tiny and thin and appears dehydrated. His skin is tight. He grabbed my water bottle with such fury and starting gulping SO fast even his little friend was stunned. I couldn't bare to take it from him. He gulped then ran behind a tree with the water and just hugged the bottle to his chest. Like a scared little bird. Just grab and run. He is bone thin and seems to be a bit autistic. Could be institutional which he would heal from slowly with a family and therapy. His reality is heart breaking . He just seems so frightened.
Do you see the light has gone out of sweet "V" ? He is in the red shirt on the back row in the top pictures.  Now he teeth are all rotten. He is bone thin. Most days he walks around bare foot , in thread bare clothes. He is gentle! He loves to give a thumbs up :) When he stands next to me he pets my hair or rubs my arms slowly . He asks if I am "v"'s mama? I say no, I am Sasha's mama while pointing to our little guy. He accepts it but I know it breaks his heart. He deserves to be picked! He deserves a family!! He is AVAILABLE for adoption!! Just ask me for info! AND  he is smart! He wants to learn. He loves trying to write with me and do puzzles. He tells me his name over and over hoping maybe that I wont forget him. That I will find him a Mama. That he will be worthy. That some nice lady with be "V"'s mama. Finally.
Oh blue eyed baby girl :) We love this little girl!
Sweet V and me :)
Here are the 3 musketeers ! These little boys are good friends.  V is in the middle and little long eye lash boy is on the right. BOTH kids were in Benji's baby house. They boy on the right is in the peach shirt in the top picture!
Long eye lash boy :) He has beautiful eyes and a smile that lights up his whole face! I think he has mild cerebral palsy. He gets around fine, but his left foot turns in a bit and his leg seem a bit weaker. He claps and smiles so sweetly when you give him a treat or push him on the swing. Little things make his day :) He used to have glasses :( He is tiny and thin. I know he would make a wonderful son. I hope to find out if he is free for adoption. I would love to see this gentle soul in a family before his innocent joy is stolen away.
This little one melts into me each time I pick her up. Blue eyed baby girl. She is very quiet, like a little mouse who never really expects you to see HER.  She stands back with her little hand out when I pass out treats, never expecting me to actually giver HER one. And when I do? She smiles so sweetly and then ...puts the treat TO MY MOUTH. This baby who has nothing to call her own, is willing to share her tiny treat with me, give me the first bite . I am not worthy of the pure love and trusting this child gives. I just hug her and I want to protect her from her harsh reality. All. Alone. No one. To turn to. Can you even imagine? What if this was your reality? YOUR child's reality? So scary... She deserves a family. She deserves to be loved!
Finally ending with this sweet face. A REAL smile. He is like a little onion and each visit we are slowly peeling away layers of hurt and neglect. Each visit he is amazing us with his desire to connect to us and be loved :) Our little guy is in there. He is happy to come out , much sooner then we ever expected! He actually ASKED to be picked up over and over again on our last visit! AND he was cheeky and stuck out his tongue then giggled at us :):) It is amazing to me how much hurt and neglect these kids suffer but they are SO resilient and SO trusting. They want to be healed. They want to be loved. They are so worthy of this journey. They are worth every delay (which there has been many) Every disappointment. Every step in this journey. They need us . And we need them :)
Never apologize for making Jesus smile.  I believe with each orphan child rescued from a life of loneliness and neglect , Jesus does in fact smile :)
"...Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know, and holds us responsible to ACT..." Proverbs 24:12

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." -(Mahatma Gandhi)