I’d like to introduce you to Donnie, my Miracle of Adoption child. Over the next two months I am going to be fundraising for his Reece’s Rainbow adoption grant with a goal of adding $1,000. (At the moment his grant is $54.) This is the little boy I’ve been making all those ornaments for. Starting November 1st they will be available for a donation into his grant (more details to come).
Of course the ultimate goal is to have a family see him and realize their family is ready for this miracle.
Last December I told you about one little boy, a little boy who had a chance to leave an orphanage for a few days in order to have some medical care at a neurological institute. That little boy also had the opportunity to taste new foods, receive some therapy, and even visit the zoo where he maintained a solemn face and thought about deer. That boy was Roman, our son.
Roman did not go on that adventure alone, thanks to the efforts of an incredible charity, another little boy in his groupa was able to go as well. That little by was Donnie. While Roman stolidly endured all the excitement, his counterpart Donnie reveled in the adventure.
This summer when we met Roman, I had a few precious moments to be with Donnie as well. I held him in my arms, looked into his shining face, and thought “what a miracle” His four-year old body was lighter than light, fitting easily into 18 months clothes and probably weighing no more than 20 pounds. The back of his head is a huge bald splotch from years of laying in a crib. Spasticity from all the excitement scrunched his body into tight contorted twists as he giggled. Yet here he was, this miracle, beaming with love and oh so very much alive.
Ever since the day I held Donnie, advocating has become a driving part of daily life. I advocated before, but holding a 4-year-old who is the size of a 12 month old, well that changes you. Having my own 2-year-old and 4-year-old at home only reinforced the differences between a child raised in an institution compared to a child raised in a loving family. As much fun as it is to keep a blog and embroider darling little nesting doll ornaments, I honestly would not be spending my time these days in that way were not for the drive, the knowledge that Donnie and so many others are spending their days staring at blank white walls waiting for a family.
At the moment Donnie lives in a decent orphanage. I believe the assistant director does her very best for all her children with the resources available. There are charities in the area that give as much as they are able, providing strollers, bedding, food, diapers, even therapy equipment. He has made some progress with his health, things like no longer needing an ng tube for nutrition intake (in the first picture you’ll see he had it a year ago but in all the new pictures he doesn’t have it anymore!) And all of this effort keep children living day-to-day, but not thriving. That is the reality of institutional care.
The other reality for Donnie, the hard reality, is that he will not be at this orphanage for much longer. Although he is oh so very tiny, sooner than later he will be transferred to a new level of institution, probably to wait out his days in a place called a laying down room; his legs and arms will tighten with contractures, his teeth will continue to decay in his mouth, his eyes will lose control as the muscles atrophy due to disuse. I wish what I say was an exaggeration, but I have seen it with my own eyes. This girl blogs about her personal experience of surviving a laying down room in the same country; like Donnie, she has cerebral palsy. You can see the frail wisps of children who did not survive, or watch this documentary if you need to know more.
A few years ago I was completely oblivious to this reality and when I first heard about the meager existence these children endure, I wanted to shake it off as exaggeration or a rare tragedy. It was thanks to advocates, the people who had held frail life in their arms, the ones who were convicted to speak for the voiceless, yes it was thanks to them that my eyes were opened to the horror, but also to the hope.
I will advocate for Donnie till the day a family carries him out of an institution or a coffin carries him to the burial ground near the building. His life could go either way. Donnie needs a miracle. He needs a family – a simple, curious, steadfast family. If you think you might be that family, you could find out more about the process here. I’d also recommend you join the official Reece’s Rainbow facebook group as a support group. Feel free to read about our own journey with the list of posts here and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
And I know that you may not be that family, I know because of all the children I do not and cannot adopt. But I also know that there are still ways to support Donnie and other children. Please pray for his continued health and safety. Share his story, it is through shared stories that families often first learn of adoption. And donate to his adoption grant, even the $5 donations build up and are immeasurably helpful.