Wednesday, June 30, 2010


When I was 15 years old, I killed myself. One could say it was accidental but then one might be lying. Looking back, it must have been a very upsetting and even humiliating experience for my mother. Sorry mom.

Why did I do it? Oh, what a complicated question to which there is no simple answer.

The door was open. It has always been open for as long as I can remember. And one day, I just stepped through it.

I have been asked what I saw on the other side and the answer is nothing. Perhaps an overdose of drugs and alcohol blots out the shining light...

I saw nothing, but I learned something... Death answers to God.

(God was kind enough to remind me of this yesterday at our staff picnic. A friend mentioned that he had once died... and suddenly I recalled a day long ago, a day I had almost forgotten, a day that taught me that God calls the shots, not me.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Open Door

I feel this poem...

Death Barged In
by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.

He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.

Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
between us.

Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down
and whispers to my neck,
From now on,
you write about me

(From Slamming Open the Door by Kathleen Sheedar Bonanno. Copyright © 2009 by Kathleen Sheedar Bonanno. Used without the permission of Alice James Books and so I hope you go buy a copy so they don’t send me to prison. All rights reserved.)

She knows what I know, only she knows it better than I.

Death opened the door and I cannot get it to close all the way.

It doesn’t seem to matter that Kimani is a healthy 25 lbs. of sheer power and joy. It doesn’t matter that she has 21 signs and says things, and can almost walk. It doesn’t matter that when she eats peaches or berries or watermelon that the sweet juice bursts forth and trickles down her chin. Even her wild laughter cannot bolt the lock.

I can see him, I see the shadow he casts from that thin crack of space where the door is still slightly ajar.

“Go away,” I yell at him pushing hard against the smooth cold wood. My efforts are futile and he is nonplussed, still tossing golden coins in the air.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The B-Side of Summer

I used to love my flowers. They reminded me of summertime, carefree days and warmth. But now my brain has tangled them with imagery of my baby suffering. I can no longer disassociate this blooming flower...


from these bruised flowers.



And when the hot sun, that I used to love, beats down on me I think of how her mouth and nose looked when I would come back in the mornings. No mercy from the imaginary sun that dried her lips into rock candy and caused her nose to bleed.



The smell of fresh cut grass tells me that today there may be some skin missing or an infection brewing.



As I watch the ants coming and going, all over their little hills,


I see the needle pricks. Once, after her surgery, I counted 47 holes in her wrists and upper inner thighs... and then I stopped counting. With nothing left to hit on the outsides, it went in under her armpit.



I debate whether I should destroy the pictures and burn her accoutrements. Will summertime return to me anew if I do?


Maybe you should talk to someone my husband says. That is why I write, I say.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can a Broken Heart Forget?


Two years ago last Friday she came and rocked my world. I had already been around the block a time or two. Lived through parents’ divorces, beloved boyfriends cohorting with best friends, surgeries, and plenty of bad news. But as Hillary Johnson put it, I had never really learned to cry.

Oh, but I did learn how then. I learned that nothing, nothing hurts like losing a child. In the end, as you know, we got to keep her. But there is this little part of my heart that doesn’t believe it, that can’t trust it, that won’t let me forget.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Very Special Gift


Ruby’s big brother Grady has an amazing ability to draw. He has decided to use that talent to help save Yana, a little girl in an Eastern European orphanage who has a family committed to her. Grady is donating a custom 5x7 single subject drawing to the winner of Yana’s 100 Good Wishes fundraiser.

Here is how it works. Donate any amount to Yana’s 100 Good Wishes fund and you will be entered to win. Once the 100 wishes are filled, Lisa (Yana’s mama) will put all the donor’s names it a hat and select a winner. The winner gets to send a photo to Grady and he will create a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind graphite pencil drawn replica of it. This gift is valued at $100.

Don’t miss your chance to win something special from this up and coming amazing artist. Check out more of Grady’s work on his blog, The Way of the Pencil.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

800 children and only 40 childcare providers, whew. No wonder they only get one or two diaper changes a day. Pay close attention to the part about what happens to the children with Down syndrome. This is why we are saving Mallory and Peach.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dear Anon, Now That You Mentioned It

I’ll speak to your comment (left on my last post) in the order that you mentioned your concerns.

1. As far as I know there are no children in this country dying of starvation and dehydration tied to metal cribs in mental institutions. If I am wrong, and you know this for sure, please hang up and dial 911 and direct the authorities to the scene of the crime.

I have not forgotten the children in my own backyard, I just haven’t seen any there that need me to adopt them the way these girls do.

2. I wish the US made that its calling. If so, the world would be a better place.

3. There is a waiting list to adopt a child with Down syndrome in the United States. There are over 200 families waiting at any given time. Most of these babies don’t even make it into foster care and are snapped up right at their hospital of birth.

4. If you have a bed and food, and medical insurance, you should adopt those children that you know need it. Saving a child’s life has nothing to do with national borders. If you and everyone who felt like you do adopted a US child out of foster care, well we wouldn’t even need foster parents anymore! I look forward to following your adoption blog, please post a link for us.

5. It is actually 25 thousand dollars, plus 5k more for the second one.

6. We can afford to raise two more children. Our finances have been gone over and proven to an accredited agency that has recommended us as being able to provide a good home and a bright future to two more children.

7. We do not have 30 thousand dollars laying around, ‘tis sad but true. If you donated, we’d get it faster though ;-)

8. The worst kids of all? As judged against what criteria? Well, no worries, we had to prove that we carry private health insurance before we were approved to adopt... so your precious medicaid system is relatively safe from my little raiders.

9. Thank you for bringing this all up and giving me the opportunity to talk about these things.

Anonymous is not alone. Anonymous is not the first person to hint around (ok, so anon didn't hint) that what we are doing... well... might cost American taxpayers money someday. Money taken away from you by our gov't and spent on people with special needs. Well, yeah, the possibility is there, and I’m sorry about that. Hopefully our trust will always provide for our girls, but if it doesn’t, I ask you now to forgive me for saving their lives.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Am I Crazy?

Many many people have asked if my husband and I are nuts for adopting two Eastern European orphans with Down syndrome. They try to say it in a joking manner, but they are implying that maybe this isn’t such a good idea.

Mallory is three years old. On her 4th birthday she will be institutionalized. Have a look at her future.


I am not exaggerating. Read all about it here.

Am I crazy? No I don’t think so. Can you look at that picture and read that post and do nothing to help the families who are willing to take these children? Can you turn away and forget what you have seen? Are you crazy?

If 1000 people throw in just $25 each, one less child ends up tied to a metal crib for life. We need your help to save these children:
Mallory and Peach
Visit Mallory and Peach's adoption blog

Visit Yana

Visit Makayla's adoption blog

Visit Josiah's adoption blog

Want to do even more? There are lots of families on Reece's Rainbow who are in the process of saving orphans. Go visit them and show them some tax-deductible love.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Wrong Impression

If you left my Rescue Me post thinking my church is filled with cheap hypocrites, then I gave you the entirely wrong impression of the few thousand people that attend there. Just as every human being has weaknesses and imperfections, so does a body of people, even those who love Christ.

My church actually spends about three hundred thousand dollars a year on missions. That is a very generous number. It is just that we do not have an orphan adoption ministry and that really needs to change.

And if I stood up in front of my church during all three services one week and made a presentation of what we are doing and asked for help, I have no doubt that our congregation would rise to the occasion and I would probably even have tons of money left over to give to other RR families who are adopting. (Unfortunately, I wouldn't be allowed to do that sort of thing.)

So don’t get me wrong, my church is filled with true Christian people... it has just become a little too corporate, a little too about itself and its corporate mission. This experience has made that clear to me. That is the discomfort I have been struggling with for a couple years now. To me, there is no more personal family-style church left in my church.

But I promise you God is there.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Doubting TUC

Have I ever told you that I am not the most faith-filled Christian? Yes, well, I am not.

I swear God told me it was time to adopt a child. I felt it. I prayed about it. I was pretty sure He said to do it, but it isn’t like there was a burning bush in the back yard or anything.

As often happens to me, I will get partway through doing something and I will begin to doubt God’s presence in it. This is especially easy for me to do when my church isn’t formally supportive, and when my father begins to question me, when the funds don’t appear, and when people send me emails hinting around that this adoption thing isn’t a good idea.

I start to think, OMGoodness, maybe I made it all up in my head. Maybe God didn’t say anything to me at all. Maybe I am crazy. Maybe there really is no God. Yes, I am a perpetual doubter. I panic and then I worry that my mistake will haunt me forever. Dramatic, eh?

And just when I started to feel sick to my stomach about the whole affair, my sweet Lord sent me a gift, a reminder of his promises, of his word, of his love and support. It came late last night while I was perusing blogs. I stumbled upon a video of a missions trip to an Eastern European orphanage. In web time it was long, eight whole minutes, but I clicked start anyway. And then it happened, she appeared on a swing, full of smiles. My heart skipped a beat and I backed it up. Was it really her? Was this possible?

That was the gift but not the reminder of his will for me. No, the reminder was the verse that was posted right at the end of my girl’s scene,
“Truly, I say to you, as you do to one of the least of these my brothers, you do to me.” Matthew 25:40.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that is the verse that God used to prompt me toward adoption. I felt a physical swoop of joy and thankfulness when I read it there and my doubts melted away.

5:21 and 7:27, isn’t she adorable?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rescue Me

I’ve been feeling uncomfortable disconnected disappointed disconcerted with my church for some time now. It started during my pregnancy for Kimani and it has grown into a nagging feeling that I cannot shake.

I probably could have managed to ignore it if not for the picture, titled Rescue Me, that appeared in the upstairs hallway. I have to look right at it each time I exit the stairwell to go down the hall to my office. It is under copyright so if you want to see it, go look.

It is a picture of part of a child’s face, an obviously non-American child, and on it are the words,

“As the body of Christ our greatest crime against humanity is our indifference and indecision towards the cultural problems we are faced with. This tolerance lulls us into a state of limbo that kills action. Without action there is no rescue. For some, without rescue there is no hope. You can be that hope, you can be that rescue."

It immediately makes me think of orphans that need to be rescued. You might think it is wonderful that our church feels so strongly about this sort of “cultural problem” that such a lovely reminder was chosen to hang on the wall, but...

When God called us to adopt an orphan who without rescue would have no hope in this world, we were shocked to find out the cost of an international adoption. I felt ill as I read the sheet of impending expenses... document fees, required donations, court costs, facilitation fees, translation costs, attorney fees, travel expenses... It was overwhelming and insurmountable.

Then an amazingly generous donor appeared and offered to cover two-thirds of the cost but only if other donors could be found to raise the remaining funds. We were thrilled. We knew we could raise the rest. After all, we are part of a huge church and we have zillions of friends and family and acquaintances who all love God and care about orphans.

Our first stop was the church. My husband met with the appropriate leader and explained our mission to him. He asked for any financial support our church might be able to give. He was told that our church doesn’t assist with adoptions, that the elders have not approved that sort of benevolence.

I admit, I was stunned. We are not an infertile couple seeking help to adopt the perfect Russian doll. We are just an average family seeking to do God’s will to rescue two children facing life in cold hard hopeless institutions. My heart was hurt that our church of all these years showed “indifference” toward this very real “cultural problem”.

And then the fine art print appeared in the hallway and now I can’t ignore my feelings anymore but the problem is... I don’t know what to do with them.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Saying Yes Is Hard

Sometimes I know what God wants me to do but I am not ready to do it. Like when he wanted me to get baptized and I pretended not to listen for about a year and a half.

It has been a while now that I have known that it grieves God’s heart to see the fatherless left to suffer and die. No doubt I first heard about that in Sunday school many years ago, and certainly there have been refreshers along the way.

Then Kimani was born and a new world opened up to me, a world where children like my little beauty are left in orphanages, without necessary medical care and therapy, without affection and comfort. A world where four year olds are shipped off to mental institutions where the lifespan inside those walls is less than two years.

I don’t exactly remember how I found Reece’s Rainbow but I do remember how I felt when I looked at those little faces, those eyes, eyes like Kimani’s, eyes asking to be saved. I felt the squeeze in my heart. I knew the day would come that I would travel halfway across the world to take one of those babies home to safety.

We were not in a position to adopt a child. Our house is full. We do not have an extra 30 thousand dollars sitting around. I already cook a lot and do a ton of laundry and change many beds. As parents we are already stretched. But one day in February as I was perusing Reece’s Rainbow, God whispered in my ear, “It’s time.”

And though saying yes to adopting was a hard thing for us to do right now, we did not bother to waste time protesting. With that said, let me introduce our daughters-in-waiting...

Mallory is three years old and currently living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.

Peach is seven months old and lives in the same orphanage as Mallory though it is likely they have never met. Peach has a very serious heart defect and needs to get home soon so that she can have life-saving surgery.

There is a lot of story between February and now, and I will share it when I get a chance on our adoption blog. There you can read more about our girls, and our adoption adventures.