With nineteen children between us, we had thought our family was complete, but Heavenly Father knew differently. Last summer I was drawn to all of the beautiful children on the Reece’s Rainbow website and inquired about a few of the older boys. For one reason or another, none of them worked out. Finally one day in August, Andrea emailed me, “How about Olena?” This was a very tiny six-year-old girl in Ukraine with an unrepaired heart condition as well as Down Syndrome and no one knew, with her serious medical condition, just what her prognosis would be. After I consulted with a pediatric cardiologist, I hesitantly presented her profile to my husband. Both of us knew with a certainty that this little girl needed a family and that family was us.
We fast-tracked our paperwork, and with a very pro-active social worker and USCIS officer, a few months later our dossier was submitted. We traveled for the first time before Christmas to meet the little girl we would name Mattea and my heart broke to see her even smaller than my 2-year-old son, and only 23 pounds.. Since my husband was over the age limit, I was adopting her as a “married individual” and we worried that this would complicate the case, but our wonderful facilitators got us through court without a hitch. I traveled back in January to bring our new little daughter home. When we first met her she was not walking independently and needed to be fed chopped food from a spoon. She had no idea how to put food in her own mouth. She had spent six years of her life in a playpen. After only three months at home, she is blossoming like a little flower. She is now walking on her own and is able to finger-feed with soft foods. She is social and seeks out affection. She now weighs 31 pounds, and today she had her very first haircut. Her health is much better and we are hoping to be able to have her heart fixed. We are so blessed to have her in our family. We believe the words of Jeremiah— “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)