Ask, and Keep on Asking

We have been so privileged and honored to have an amazing medical team here from Germany the past couple of weeks.  I tear up every time I think of them.  They are with our Boys right now and I feel so incredibly humbled that they would take time off work and spend their own money to serve our boys with their whole selves.

Having them here beside us, fighting for our Boys right along with us, has been absolutely humbling and awe-inspiring.  I am changed because of it. You see, I know, and Jed knows that our Boys have tremendous value.  No one needs to prove that to us.  They are our babies.  Jed and I were talking about it the other night,  and I can honestly say that we have to come to the point where we love them as much as we love our own four children here at home.  I’m a mother of 90.  🙂  We would go to the ends of the earth for our Addy, Ezra, Havalah, and Seth.  And so we would for our 86 other children that languish in isolation, hidden, thrown away by society.

Having the German team here has made my mama heart swell.  Watching their tenderness with our babies, their tenacity in not settling for second best, the way they have risen up and made this fight for dignity their own, well, it has shown me even more how valuable our boys are.  You see, during the past months as we were planning this trip for the German team we were a bit nervous (mostly I was…haha).  I kept wondering if the team members would think this cause was of value.  I wondered if they would really be able to help and if they would feel that coming to our Boys was a good use of their time.  In that worrying I was devaluing our babies.  I was assuming that no one would love them like we do, that no foreigners with prestigious medical degrees and full patient loads at home would want to “feet on the ground” fight for them.  What was I thinking?????  The team immediately valued our Boys and have fought tooth and nail for them over the past couple of weeks. The team members have grown to love the boys immensely, and through their love I have been inspired to press on for even further for our boys.

They deserve it.

We are their voices.  If we stay silent about their potential and their need and their reality, then who will speak for them? So, I will ask and keep on asking.

Do you have room for one of our loves at your table? 

They have no future here.  We are fighting to give them one, but still, no future we can provide could adequately replace a family.

Yes, they are broken.  Yes, they have been traumatized.  Yes, they have medical needs.  Yes, they will require hard work and endless hours of sacrifice on the part of the adoptive family.  Yes, adoption is expensive- in every way.  Yes, they have experienced things no human being should ever have to experience and yes, they are scarred from those experiences.

BUT

Did you know that they are absolutely beautiful?  Did you know that Ben smiled for the first time in his life last week?  Did you know it was a moment of rejoicing and the whole room exploded with cheers?  Did you know Isaiah’s face lights up when a familiar voice calls his name? He’s really ticklish too 🙂 Did you know Micah has an amazing personality??  He has us all in stitches so much of the time.  Did you know Stephan laughs a deep-down belly laugh when you spin him around and around?  In those moments he is so handsome.  Did you know that Alex loves Jed?  Did you know he is so helpful and his face absolutely beams when he knows he has been a good helper?  Did you know Jonathan might just have the most beautiful smile in the whole institution?  He comes running over when he sees us and his smile melts my heart every time.  Did you know Aaron sat calmly on my lap the other day and took my arm to wrap it around himself?  Did you know he is happiest outside and loves the feel of the sun on his face?

These are our babies.  We went to the end of the world for them and we’ll keep right on going.  This week is the third week in a row that our team has been at the institution every single day.  Great gains have been made, yet with more time spent,  more ugliness has been exposed.  These boys are not just a sad or romantic idea.  They are precious creations of God and they should not have to live the way they live.  It is injustice heaped upon injustice.

Their very lives are being stolen from them, but we are not helpless to change that!  There are seven who are adoptable, who have a chance at a different life and we will not stop fighting until that chance is realized.

If you know you can not adopt, would you pray?  Would you donate to their adoption funds and help ease the financial burden for the families who step up for them?  Would you share their faces with all of your friends and family?  Would you be a voice for them?

But maybe you could adopt?  Why not you?  If you have never considered it would you please consider it now?  Our two littles, Ben and Isaiah, are truly living on borrowed time.  They simply can not wait forever.  Our Alex and Micah must have committed adoptive families by the end of this year or they will lose their chance forever.

I’m just gonna ask and keep on asking.  They’re our babies and we will not stop fighting for them. It’s my mama duty.

*Click on the names to donate to their adoption grant fund. 

*To find out more information about the Ukrainian adoption process please contact the awesome team at Hand of Help in Adoption.

*Please feel free to contact me for more information about the individual boys.  I would be happy to answer your questions!

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Three More Loves

Yesterday we received some FANTASTIC news!

Three more of our precious boys were confirmed AVAILABLE for adoption!!!!

I can’t even wait to introduce them to you.  Please help us find their families!

So without further ado…

*The boys have been given alias names to protect their identity*

Meet Ben!

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Do you recognize this little munchkin?  Yes!  He is one of our “Littles”!  Both of our Littles are officially available for adoption!  Ben is the littlest of the littles and needs a family urgently.  He is failing to thrive, and truthfully he will never thrive in an institutional environment (actually, I don’t know of anyone who could).  His health is very fragile and he just can’t seem to gain weight.

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The Littles together, shortly after their transfer to the institution

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Ben is 5 years old and he came to the  institution in July of 2014.  We quickly saw that he would not live long if something didn’t change. There are just not enough staff to manage all the other boys in the Isolation Hall AND to give Ben the careful attention he needs. He started withering away soon after his arrival.  He must be fed slowly because he refluxes so badly, and the nannies just didn’t have the time he required.  We hired a nanny to care for the two Littles in a room just for them. A great ministry here in town hired another nanny to alternate days with our nanny, so now every day of the week, from 7am-7pm the Little ones have great care from nannies who truly love them.  Those nannies have literally saved their lives! (Not an exaggeration)  We are so incredibly thankful for them.

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Ben is no longer losing weight, but he still doesn’t gain.  He is nonverbal and we have never seen him smile.  BUT in the past month or two there has been one major improvement!  Ben now cries when his nanny leaves his room!  When she comes back in and calls his name, he turns to her and is almost instantly quiet.  He also cries when he wants to be held. These are miraculous developments!  He can sit up on his own, bear weight and stand while holding on to the crib railing, and he can take steps when holding on to someone’s finger. This little guy is teeeeeny tiny.  Oh how he needs a mama to scoop him up and cuddle him as long as his little heart desires.  Would you consider Ben?

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Meet Isaiah!

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Isaiah is pure sunshine.  He is also 5 years old, and this boy’s smile lights up the room!  He is the other of our “Littles” and shares a room with Ben. Isaiah has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal.  He is learning to hold his head up and has gotten much stronger over the past few months.  He has never had any kind of therapy, so just imagine all the potential hidden in there!

Isaiah loves his special nannies and reserves his best smiles and laughs for them.  It’s actually really beautiful to see how they have bonded.  What a gift.

This amazing boy will bring such joy to a family.  He giggles and smiles so easily, but he will never reach his potential in an institution.  Of course he will require a lot of time and attention, therapy and doctor’s appointments, but oh man it will be worth it.  He is just amazing.  Please help us find a family for Isaiah!

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Addy and Isaiah, back in July. Our kids adore Isaiah!

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Meet Aaron!

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Aaron is 11 and he came to the institution at the age of 7.  We just have to smile when we think of Aaron because he keeps those nannies hopping! He is absolutely exploding with energy. He’s really unsteady on his feet so he’s constantly roaming the halls half-running/half-falling. When he has the opportunity he will literally try to climb up your body! Ha!  Aaron loves touch and he craves physical contact. Sometimes we can get a glorious moment of quiet when Aaron will just let us hold him and wrap our arms around him. He really does love that and it does wonders for his brain development. It’s just a matter of getting him still enough to realize he likes it. 🙂
Aaron loves any kind of sensory play, like feeling the dirt outside and holding his hand under a running faucet. He likes to sit in a wheelchair and be pushed around, even though he doesn’t need a wheelchair! The best thing we can do for Aaron is take him on walks. He likes to be outside so sometimes we just get him outside and follow wherever he leads. Aaron doesn’t have any words, but when he gets excited he gives his signature shriek to let us know how he feels.

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It’s hard for me to write about Aaron because I want to be completely honest, yet I am desperate for him to have a family. I want to tell you that Aaron needs a family that can provide him with plenty of love, plenty of time, plenty of patience, and plenty of structure.  Right now he gets no attention and he has no sensory input at all.  He is constantly striving to meet his sensory needs in an impossible environment.  This puts him in a hyper-arousal state where he wanders from place to place climbing and reaching and falling and shrieking.  We have no doubt that he will absolutely blossom with a family.  Our peaceful moments with him give us that hope.  I just want to tell you honestly that right at this moment an adoptive family will have quite a road ahead of them.   BUT Aaron is worth it.  He is as worth it as my own sons.

Please, please share our boy.  We are praying that his family sees him quickly, and that nothing holds them back from their baby.

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A rare moment of rest on Maks’ lap 🙂

There you have it!  And don’t forget about our other sweeties who are also available!  Two of them will become unadoptable at the end of this year, so time is of the essence.

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Jonathan

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Micah- ages out in November!

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Stephen

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Alex- ages out in December!

I can’t share the details, but Alex urgently needs a family.  We have until December to find him a family (already not a lot of time), but due to other circumstances we are praying for a family to step up even sooner.  Several people have inquired about him, but no one has taken any steps toward him.

Thank you so much for praying for, loving, supporting, and sharing our Boys.  They have no voice. They have no choices. We MUST be their voice. They have been hidden away for far too long.  This is their year!

Wanted: Four Loving Families

Oh man, today is your lucky day!

Today is the day I introduce you to some beautiful treasures.

I promised that I would begin to advocate in earnest.  I warned you this day was coming.  Woohoo!

There are 9 boys that I have been told are available for adoption.  For some months we have been in the process of verifying with the government department of adoptions that yes, they are 100% legally free for adoption.  At this point I have confirmation on 4 of the 9 boys, and we are waiting on the rest.

So, let’s meet the first 4!

*FYI, I’m giving them alias names to protect their identities.  

Meet Alex!Oh my friends, this boy is precious.  Alex came to Romaniv when he was 7 years old and now he is 15.  We have until the end of this year to find him a family and then he will “age out”, meaning he will become to old for adoption.  We can’t let this happen because this boy deserves the love of a family.  Jed and I both agree that he would make a FABULOUS son.  He is such a helper!  Last summer, when the weather was nice, we would take the Isolation boys outside and some of the big boys who have more freedom would join us.  Alex was always in that group.  He would run to help us push wheelchairs, or gently take our blind boys by the hand.  Every week when bananas are being served he is sure to be seen helping the less capable boys with their bananas, making sure no one steals from anyone else.  PRECIOUS.

In 2011

His first picnic!

Alex doesn’t speak, but I wonder if he would, if he were given the chance for love and security?  I know it might sound scary to adopt a 15 year old, but this sweet boy is not your average 15 year old.  He has never had the experiences my 6 year old has had.  He is a responsible helper, but he is also like a little child.  Precious, precious boy.  Someone please see this treasure!!

Meet Stephen!Stephen is one of our Isolation Hall treasures.  We want a family for him so desperately.  He is 12 years old, but really about the size of a 6 or 7 year old- just an itty bitty thing.  The nannies say that he is blind, but we believe he can at least see shadows.  He always wants to be near the window- especially on sunny days.  There are two places you can usually find Stephen- either standing under the window at the end of the Isolation Hall, or sitting on a chair in the kitchen, waiting for the next meal.

Where he spends most of his days

Jed was describing Stephen’s behaviors to a woman in the US who works with children with visual impairments and she said that his description matches many children they work with who have sensory issues surrounding their vision.  She said that for some of those children they can actually be taught to see!  Stephen is extremely sensory-seeking and needs to feeeeeeeel the world around him  🙂  He loves to spin, flap his arms, spin some more, run, spin, you get the idea.  He has absolutely no sensory input at Romaniv- so he has to create it himself.

Last summer

He does not speak and displays many institutional behaviors.  He is NOT harmful or aggressive to himself or others.  He is absolutely adorable and has so.much.potential.  He is more than a diagnosis.  Please see our Stephen!!  I have video for interested families.  🙂

Meet Micah!Okay, Micah.  Ridiculous cuteness.  To know him is to love him.  Micah has lived with the big boys for many years, but only recently has been staying in the Isolation Hall.  He gets severe headaches and they put him in with our Boys when that happens.  Our volunteer team absolutely fell in love with him over the past month.  He is so funny!  He speaks and always says “thank you” and “goodbye”.  Somehow he is super polite!  It’s hilarious to see it in that environment.  I have awesome video for interested families.  You just have to see this boy in action.  His pictures don’t do him justice.

In 2008

In 2011

Micah turns 16 this year and we just have to find him a family by the end of the year or he will age out.  One very important consideration is that he has a brother who was born in 2001 and they must be adopted together.  Unfortunately we don’t know anything about this boy.  He is in another orphanage.  I know, I know, this is a lot to take on.  But please, don’t turn away.  I truly believe God can do anything- even provide a family for Micah and his brother.  🙂

Annnnnd last but not least…

Meet Jonathan!Jonathan is the boy I know the least from this group.  I simply haven’t spent much time with him.  He used to live in the Isolation Hall, but shortly after we moved here he was moved to the big boy group.  He is 12 years old, but about he size of an 8 year old.  He came to Romaniv from the baby house orphanage when he was 5.

In 2008. SO CUTE.

Last summer. Working hard! 🙂

We’ve heard that Jonathan has a heart condition, but I really need to get that verified.  He is described as kind and cheerful and I heard from one volunteer that he always helps the nannies clear the table after meals.  🙂  I will try my best to find out more information about him, I just didn’t want to delay getting his face out there.  Are you out there Mommy and Daddy?

So there you have it.  There’s the first of our 9.  I hope to tell you about the rest as soon as I get confirmation of their availability.

I know they are not little babies.  I know that you might not fall in love at first glance.  But I can vouch for their value.  I have met them.  I have held each of them in my arms.  They are not just pictures and diagnoses and ages.  They are real boys- as real as my own sons.  I can vouch that God’s plans for them are of no less value than his plans for my own sons.  They have spent their growing up years thus far in a place no person should have to live for one day- let alone years.

Their childhoods have been stolen.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Please stop and ask the Lord how He would have you respond.  If you can’t adopt, will you at least help me share them with the world?  My faith is big.  There are adoptive families out there.  We just need to introduce them to their sons.  🙂

If you are interested or would like more information please contact me!  You can comment here or email me at kjohnson@wideawakeinternational.org

*Thank you to Mission to Ukraine for the pictures of the boys when they were little!

A Couple Weeks in Photos: February 23rd

Hi!  How are ya?  We are just fine and dandy.  Many good things are happening- in our family and in Wide Awake.  I wish I had the time to just sit down with each of you and give you all the details, but alas, a blog post of pics will have to do.

We are deep in the throes of homeschool and language lessons and Romaniv trips and Young Adult nights and Legos and orphan advocacy and Barbies and parenting and all kinds of other stuff.  No day is like the one before. It’s not all glamorous, in fact I wouldn’t classify any of it as “glamorous”, but it is our life and we wouldn’t trade it for the world. (except some days when the copious amounts of unglamorous snot, saliva, and poop threaten to overwhelm…)

Hehe…anywayssss…time for pics!

*There are a couple of boys in this post that are available for adoption.  I gave them aliases to protect their identity.  FYI.  Mommy and Daddy, are you out there???  🙂 

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A playground in our neighborhood

 

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It’s the little things. 🙂

 

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We found an ice road!!!

 

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Hava decided maybe she COULD write some letters! I’m glad I didn’t push her earlier.

 

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I can’t resist. My baby is so cute!!!! Yep, he’ll always be my baby.

 

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This is “Micah”! He is available for adoption and I can’t wait to write a post all about him and find his family!!! I’m just waiting for confirmation on his diagnosis. Pure sweetness.

 

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“Stephen”!! Stephen needs a family too. He is blind and needs so much sensory input. Running him in the halls is the best. He can walk, but sometimes he likes a ride. 😉

 

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Please keep praying for our sweet one. Little love needs a miracle.

 

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Hava Rudy the Cutie

 

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Sweet loves with Tanya, a most amazing volunteer. She loves the boys so much.

 

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Seriozha. He loves to say “Beep beep!” He is normally silent, so when he perks up with a loud “beep beep!” it makes us laugh so hard!

 

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Ez Pez Dominez

 

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Still can’t resist.

 

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Addy Maddy Baddy

 

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Seffer Boy-o

 

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Luckiest mom evah! Right here.

 

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Yaroslav. I can’t even explain to you how much I love this boy. The smile, the squinty eyes, the thumb-sucking. Too.Much.

 

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Micah! Someone see this boy. He is beyond precious. I have video and more pics. I’ll write more soon. But let me just tell you that our whole team is in love with this boy.

 

 

FOUND.

Not a lot of words needed today.

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VLADIK IS FOUND.

A family has found their boy.  Vladik doesn’t know it yet, but in just a few months, Lord willing, he will be a beloved son, orphan no more.

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We are rejoicing and we can’t wipe the grins off our face or the tears off our cheeks.

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Oh the joy he will bring to his family.  UNBELIEVABLE.

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The family wishes to remain private right now, until they are further along in the adoption process.  There are many unknowns in adopting from this country, so please pray with us for a speedy process with favor all along the way. Just know that they are doing everything they can to get to their boy as quickly as possible!  We will share more when we are able.

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Hold on baby boy, Mommy and Daddy are comin’ for ya!  WAHOOOOO!!!!!

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  John 14:18