Once upon a time, in a small town on the East Coast, Alan and Renee listened to God and took the plunge into international adoption. They had a lot of experience in working with kids with special needs, whether medical, behavioral, intellectual, physical or psychological, from doing therapeutic foster care and from Renee being a social worker. So in 2011, they found themselves plunged deep into the exciting world of international adoption dossier paperwork (hurray!) and fingerprinting and homestudy visits. In early 2012, they crossed the ocean to a very wonderful Eastern European country and met their beautiful daughter. She was almost six years old, had spent too much time in a lying down room, but had been able to spend the last nine or so months in a classroom type setting within her institution. She was tiny- only 22 pounds, wearing a 2T/3T, her legs tightly scissored from CP, her back curved with scoliosis, her eyes crossed, her hips out of socket, her arms tightly bent with clenched fists. She couldn’t sit up on her own, couldn’t walk, couldn’t write, couldn’t feed herself- but she could talk. And she LOVED to talk! God worked a miracle for this sweet girl, putting her in an orphanage with compassionate caregivers who listened as she begged to be taken out to “see the sun” and she began to get more opportunities to escape the bed. One day, Renee and Alan arrived, and this sweet little girl was asked if she would like to be adopted. She did not hesitate one second- but responded in her high-pitched little voice “Da! Mama eh Papa! Doma Amer- eeka!” followed by her saying that she wanted to learn to walk. Renee and Alan were captivated by her- and just a few short weeks later, were bringing her home forever. Barely a month home, she began to ask over and over “want brudder”, followed by “want TWO brudder,” followed by “want two brudder AND a sistra baby!”
First four; Spring 2013
Alan and Renee prayed hard- and listened to God, and their daughter, “Moxie”- and went back again to adopt in summer of 2012. There they met sweet “Bandit”, a fireball of a blue-eyed blonde 3.5 year old boy with two open heart surgery scars and FAS, and his best friend, a tiny little girl (“Sassypants”) who was only 2.5, who had some unique features and many delays (Coffin Siris Syndrome). A couple of weeks later, they went to a very bad camp to meet Bandit’s other best buddy, who had been transferred from the wonderful babyhouse to a place that treated him quite differently. “Warrior” was 5.5, and only weighed 20 pounds. His body had wounds and layers of multi-colored bruises. He rarely spoke, liked to play off by himself waving around a string, and walked with a very uneven gait. Two months after they began, they brought home all four of their children- Moxie, who was now 6.5 and making remarkable progress in sitting and standing and learning to walk, Warrior, who also has FAS and a neural tube defect as well as hearing/vision issues due to the abuse he suffered, Bandit, who also weighed 20 pounds, and Sassypants, who only weighed 14 pounds when she arrived home at 2.5 years old.
Fast forward a year- and you have four beautiful, smart, talkative, hilarious children who love each other and Renee and Alan beyond description. Moxie is walking with a walker, and has had a couple of surgeries to fix her eyes and legs, and is in first grade and thriving- loving learning how to write and read. Warrior, who had to be treated in the hospital upon arrival in the USA because he was so badly malnourished and dehydrated and sick, is now a happy kindergartner who loves to talk and build things and sound out words. Bandit brings sunshine to the whole household with his happy little singing and whistling and funny little inventions from household items. Sassypants- well, she’s sassy!!!! but in the most wonderfully charming and delightful way! Each one of the kids has faced challenges- but they are always there for each other, to offer a helping hand (Sassypants is vertically challenged and cannot reach lightswitches, Moxie’s CP limits her extension as well), to encourage each other when they struggle (Warrior has struggled with speech), and to offer love and acceptance and hugs (Bandit is terribly scared of storms). Alan and Renee wake up daily joyful- thankful for the four little blessings that call them “Daddy” and “Mommy,” unable to imagine a better life!
But several months ago, Moxie began talking- about what life was like “before”- in the lying down room. She talked of having itches that she couldn’t stretch her arms out to scratch, of calling for help and no one coming, of being lonely and sad and wishing someone would hold her. She broke Alan’s and Renee’s hearts. She began asking them to please go back to EE and find her a brother or sister who has CP like her, and who is lying in a bed- promising she would teach them to “walk and talk and use a fork and scratch their legs and learn to write and read!” At bedtime prayers, she asked God to “take care of them in their beds and help them to not hurt” and would sometimes weep because she remember what it felt like to have a leg cramp and no one to rub it.
It didn’t take Bandit long to join in- if they were going to get more kids, he wanted another sister or brother with BLUE eyes! (he’s the only one in the house with blue eyes- even the dog has brown eyes!) Sassypants wants “a babeech (baby) to cwuddle”. Warrior started out wanting a frog- but then solemnly started telling us “I want brothers AND sisters. So nobody does hit them no more!” He too remembers his life “before”…and has processed some of his feelings this summer as two of his friends were adopted, in equally poor health.
So, Alan and Renee are doing it again. After prayer, and seeking God, they know this is the path they are to be on. Their home is adapted- they have wheelchair ramps and safety toilet seats and bath chairs and special car seats and an activity chair. They have the adaptive toys- they have the knowledge. Their backyard is equipped with parallel bars and playground equipment, a therapy garden and everything they need to see more children thrive and recover from years of neglect. They have a strong system of medical and therapy providers, and are armed with knowledge of stretches and procedures and most importantly- God’s healing power, grace and mercy, and love.
The one thing they don’t have much of, after adopting four kids in two years, and taking care of necessary medical needs, is spare money lying around for the pre-adoption fees- the airplane rides, the facilitation fees, the in country fees, the visas and passports. They have the love- they have the space- they have the knowledge- they have a family ready and eager to welcome more kids home. So if you pray, and God leads you to help them out, they would be incredibly grateful- because the only thing keeping several current orphans from becoming loved and cherished sons and daughters, with access to medical care and school and love and nutrition and therapy and the hilarity of brothers and sisters who love to play and sing and hug- is money for the adoption fees.
If you’d like to read more about Alan and Renee, Moxie, Warrior, Bandit and Sassypants and the incredible journey they’ve been on, you can visit them here: butbygraceitcouldbeme.blogspot.com