Marty and Mandy met in high school, dated for 2 years and were married at 18 years old. Many people said it wouldn’t last, but with God all things are possible. 15 years later, the couple has 5 children. Eli is their oldest, biological son. He is 12 years old and loves to play soccer. He is a great big brother and is the hero that the others look up to. Joseph Ivaylo is next in line at 10 years old. Vaylo is his Bulgarian name and the family kept on calling him that when he joined them 3 years ago. Vaylo came home weighing 22 pounds at 7 years old. He was unable to walk, had no form of communication and basically, existed in his own little world. Today, he is the light of his family. He weighs a whopping 45 pounds and not only walks, but runs and dances, too. His favorite dance partner is Julie. Julie is Marty and Mandy’s only biological daughter and is just five days younger than Vaylo. Julie is a competitive gymnast and loves that the family lives on a farm, where she can be surrounded by animals. She is a wonderful sister and loving example of who Jesus is to her siblings. Fourth in line is Samuel Dimitar. Sam came home at the same time as Vaylo and is 7 years old. Sam is the life of this party and often people have told the family that he needs his own TV show. He has a wonderful sense of humor and keeps everyone guessing about what’s coming next. Sam was a little sad when he first came home, because he left behind, a little girl, named Klementina at the orphanage in Bulgaria. He wasn’t sad, for long, though, because with God ALL things are possible. Today, Klemi is Sam’s sister and the two are separated by only three weeks in age. Klemi came home, just 15 months after Sam and Vaylo and like her brothers, she, also, has Down Syndrome. It has been amazing for the family to witness God’s hand in bringing their children home from across the ocean.
Marty and Mandy knew it was time to go, again. Klemi is their most recent child home and she just celebrated her 2nd “Gotcha Day.” After talking and praying for nearly a year about their next child, they had decided to look for a boy, over four years old, most likely with Down Syndrome. Well, Marty scrolled across the face of “Curtis” here on Reece’s Rainbow and even though they thought “no more babies,” God seems to have other plans. Curtis is a beautiful one year old boy with Down Syndrome. Marty saw his picture and knew he was their son. So, here we are. Once, again, the Rhodes Family is saying, “Yes!” Yes to whatever God asks. Yes to a new son. The family needs your help to move the mountain of money that stands between them and their newest, little one. Will you join them on this journey?
Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support…Do Something! For the King and His Glory…
9/2/15— HOMESTUDY COMPLETE
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at gatheringrhodes.wordpress.com
Tasha had always assumed that when she and Jeff adopted, it would be in birth order. In her mind, the way you add to the family is with a baby. Over the last year she had actively advocated for waiting children and knew in her heart that one day her family would bring one of those children home. She had felt compelled to adopt, but Jeff had never agreed. Tasha prayed for over a year that when the time was right and the child was right, Jeff would say yes. She would wait.
In March of 2015, Tasha reviewed Erika’s file, like she had many files, and began to occasionally advocate for her on facebook. She reviewed the file again toward the end of May, and even called the placing agency for more information. She asked why no one had adopted Erika, considering she had such large grants. The answer: because she has Down Syndrome. Tasha has a heart for people with Down Syndrome and that answer felt personal and offensive. Still…
A few days later, the agency rep emailed to ask if the family was interested in adopting Erika. Tasha replied that she would talk to her husband over the weekend, and then she promptly put the file in a desk drawer and closed it.
On July 7th, Tasha saw another post on facebook advocating for Erika, and it hit her like a sucker punch. As the morning continued on, God really convicted Tasha’s heart. Why should she reject a waiting child based on her age? What made her think that she got to choose who her child was? Waiting children were not shoes to be shopped for. It was a very hard and humbling day.
Reluctantly, Tasha decided that she would take Erika’s file out of the drawer and show it to Jeff when he got home that night, and when she did he said, “Okay….I’ll think about it.”
Jeff has always cared about orphans. But the idea of actually…in real life…adopting??? They didn’t have the money. Their house needed repairs. They had just gotten out of the diaper phase after 10 years and 4 kids. Kids with Down Syndrome and the health concerns involved were kind of scary.
Jeff had never said he “would think about it” before. That is such a simple sentence, but it spoke volumes. AND IT FREAKED TASHA OUT. Remember, she had always thought that when they did adopt it would be a baby. Erika’s file eased many of Jeff’s concerns about adopting, but Tasha was out of her comfort zone. As she went to bed that night, she prayed to God that if adopting Erika was His will, He would give them a clear sign.
The next day a package arrived from China. FROM THE VERY CITY IN WHICH ERIKA LIVES. This is not a well known city. The package was a birthday gift, ordered for Jeff and Tasha’s youngest child’s birthday. Ordered by Jeff’s parents who live in Arizona. A dress. That gift had been ordered while Erika’s file lay in a closed drawer. Tasha knew, beyond any doubt. It took Jeff another 2 weeks, but he agreed. Erika was to be Norah, daughter of Jeff and Tasha, sister of Isaiah, Quinn, Emmett and Josie. God had chosen this child for them.
9/1/15— HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at norahmakes5.wordpress.com
Jim and Dawn met in 2003, fell in love and married in 2005. They instantly became a blended family with 4 boys and 3 girls. James started his own business and Dawn was working in healthcare. Life seemed to be moving along as expected for their family.
After 4 years of marriage they found out they were expecting. Although it was not planned they embraced the pregnancy and were excited to be having a child together. Sadly a week after seeing their baby’s heartbeat for the first time a miscarriage occurred and they lost the baby at just 10 weeks. Jim and Dawn were heartbroken but decided they would try for another and put it in God’s hands.
In 2011 Dawn gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who happened to have Down syndrome. Because it was a birth diagnosis they had no idea what they should expect but it did not take them long to see he would become one of the biggest blessings in their lives. There would be worry and challenges but the love and joy he brought to their lives outweighed any of that. At 7 months old Rylan had open heart surgery to correct a heart defect he was born with. The surgery was successful and Rylan is now a busy 4 year old that continues to bless their family.
Rylan’s diagnosis opened up a new world to their family. Dawn joined some online groups in support of Down syndrome. One group she was led to was Reece’s Rainbow. She followed the children and the stories for over a year when it was apparent in her heart that she wanted to adopt a child with Down syndrome.
Jim and Dawn prepared their hearts for the journey of adoption and for God to lead them to the right child. One day a video was posted of a little boy listed as Joseph on Reece’s Rainbow. After seeing Joseph’s video he never left their mind. They knew he was the one they had prayed for. They are now loving Joseph from afar and pray they will soon have him home and in their arms to love.
The Kozak’s are so excited to welcome this precious little boy into their family and ask for prayers and support as they begin their journey!
8/31/15—HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
Steve and Trisa along with their four daughters are eagerly anticipating the adoption of these four brothers in Eastern Europe. “I saw the pictures of Luke and Jason and knew they were supposed to be a part of our family. Then to our surprise and delight found out that they have two older brothers! Caleb and Tyler both with cognitive delays.”
Steve and Trisa believe God has allowed them this amazing opportunity and are believing that He will provide as the expenses for adopting four children at once will be great.
They are currently working hard to get all the paperwork and Home study complete and are hoping for a travel date in the next 6-9 months.
8/28/15—HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
In life there are numerous things we miss because we are not willing to step out and be obedient. Fear sets in and we just become frozen in that fear. Greg and Kim Franks are no different in those fears, but the couple press forward in the clear call God has placed upon their lives. Ahead to what? Another adoption. Without a doubt, they both knew when they saw little Hava Rose’s face (aka Lila), that they had stared straight into the face of their child.
Throughout each of their adoptions, many have questioned why they were adopting again. With two healthy older biological children and 20 years serving in the U.S. Army, one might ask why now… but they both would consider it disobedience to their Lord if they did not go. Greg and Kim echo a good friend who said, “Obedience looks similar to insanity, and to some people it may be perceived as insanity… BUT… walk forward in insane obedience.” They continue to walk forward in insane obedience out of love.
Furthermore, the precious children within their home would not have been there without the calling. From two dear biological children to four blessings from China, they both learned over and over again that God knows best. On each journey to China, their hearts became burdened more and more each time. As David Platt has said, “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”
As they have looked back over the adoption journey, they have seen how God has stretched them and they have opened themselves up to whatever the Lord has – no matter what. Humbled and amazed, the couple saw over and over undeniable evidence that God was pointing straight to Hava Rose (Lila). Out of all of God’s promptings, Greg and Kim reflected back to one that they would like to share.
Through a mutual friend Kim was connected with another China adoption mom, Sarah. She and her husband had adopted a child with Down’s Syndrome. She gave Kim all sorts of information and encouragement. Three weeks went by, and the Franks had already moved forward to adopt this little gem when Sarah contacted Kim to ask if they had made a decision regarding the adoption. Kim quickly answered yes. Sarah began questioning what orphanage the child was from and when Kim told her she was thrilled to learn that her daughter and Kim’s future daughter were from the same orphanage. Soon, Sarah connected Kim with a mission group that goes to the orphanage on mission trips to love on and serve these dear children. Through their conversation, Sarah and Kim discovered that Sarah sponsored a child there. Guess who that child was?
YES! Sarah and her husband were the sponsors for little Hava.
When things get overwhelming and fear sets in, Greg and Kim go back to the numerous ways the LORD has pointed them straight to their little Hava Rose, who is across the world, waiting for them in China. She is chosen and dearly loved. They are beside themselves with excitement to get her home as quickly as possible. They would be blessed to have others join in to help bring this precious little girl home. Greg and Kim have requested, first and foremost, for others to pray for this adoption and if one feels led, to help with the costs of bringing Hava (aka Lila) home.
Resting in this verse, they know that God walks with them at each step: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
8/27/15— HOMESTUDY COMPLETE
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at kimfranks.blogspot.com
Brian and Lora have been married for almost 25 years. They have three children at home, including two that are adopted, one domestically, and one internationally. They decided to continue building their family by adopting from the special needs program in China. They fell in love with “Eden” after seeing her sweet smile and bright eyes on their agency’s waiting list. She has hydrocephalus, and has had surgery to add a shunt to help her condition. Just a few weeks after connecting with “Eden,” Brian and Lora saw “Wyatt’s” picture on their agency’s page, and once again fell in love! They had not planned on adopting two at this time, but his sweet face stole their hearts. “Wyatt” also has hydrocephalus, although it has not yet been treated. Brian and Lora have already seen so many miracles and answers to prayer since beginning the process of adopting these two beautiful children!
As a true testament to our living God, the DeGan family has been called to adopt and expand their family in a way they never imagined! Bill and Amanda have raised two biological children of their own – Ryen and Hannah and Bill has two children from a previous marriage – Brittany and Jason. All of the kids are either grown and married or in college and they felt they were all settled into the ‘empty nest’ routine when God placed a very special young boy on their heart – Peter. He was brought to them through a search on the Reece’s Rainbow website and an immediate connection was placed on Amanda’s heart when she saw his photo. The Holy Spirit said “why not you?”
After many weeks of prayer and leading, Amanda showed a photo of Peter to Bill and he immediately said – “yes, we should do this”. She then contacted the team at Reece’s Rainbow and was told that another family was “very interested in adding Peter to their adoption”. Amanda was crushed – sure they had missed God’s calling and opportunity for their lives to expand and grow in love for this little boy. After telling the team, that they were still interested should the other family choose another direction, Bill and Amanda prayed on the path they felt God was leading them down. In God’s infinite grace and power, the next morning an email arrived saying the other family wasn’t going to be able to adopt him and gave Bill and Amanda their blessing!
Thus began the process of gathering documents and seeing if they would even qualify through the home study process to bring Peter into their home. God has been faithful and generous in all His dealings and the family is blessed through this entire experience. The family so admires those who have gone before them and those who are now working through the adoption process – to expand their home and take children who often are seen as ‘the least of these’ out of a terrible environment and into a loving family.
They ask for your prayers as they respond to God’s direction in their lives and hope that you will support them in this wonderful journey!
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
8/26/15—HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
Timm (with 2 m’s) and Hannah Heath have a habit of saying yes to life. They said yes to tossing wedding planning out the window and threw a simple wedding together in one week, yes to spending a year studying in Cambridge, England, yes to moving five times in their 5 1/2 years of marriage, and yes to settling down in small-town Wisconsin. They had often dreamt of one day adopting, but it was not until Hannah became a part of the Reece’s Rainbow Facebook community that they felt a sense of urgency for orphans with special needs.
This year Hannah, an occupational therapist, began advocating on her blog for children listed on Reece’s Rainbow. Timm, who is a pastor, began including prayers for orphans around the world each night during family devotions. The couple began talking about goals to accomplish before starting the adoption process; they had a few vague timelines, and felt like they were steadily heading in the right direction. If you had asked them if they were ever going to adopt their answer would have been “hopefully someday!”
But it was the words of their 3 1/2 year old daughter that called them to say yes once more. One night while tucking her in for bed, their daughter whispered in Hannah ‘s ear, “We need to get in the car right now and get Angelina because she doesn’t have a mommy or a daddy.” Angelina was one of the first children Hannah advocated for and those pure blue eyes and ready smile had haunted the Heaths for months as they prayed for a family to commit to her before she was transferred to an adult mental institution. When Hannah shared the words of their little daughter with Timm his response was perfect: “It isn’t a question of if we will try to adopt Angelina, but how, because of course the answer is yes.”
The Heaths pray Angelina joins their family soon where she can hear that yes, she is cherished, yes, she is worth it all, and yes, she has a worthwhile life to live!
8/14/15— HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at heathandhome.wordpress.com
Richard and Ella have committed their lives to adopting and raising children to be godly men and women. They have thirteen wonderful children and are returning to Bulgaria to adopt three more. Richard and Ella consider adoption to be their ministry. Their goal is to show the world that all children deserve a mom and dad, and that special needs children in particular bestow a special blessing from God. What better way is there to show that all people are created in God’s image and worthy of honor and respect than adopting a special needs child? What better way is there to teach us patience and perseverance, and to step outside our comfort zone? In pursuit of this goal, Richard and Ella have purchased a large foreclosed home on 11.5 acres of land. They are filling the home with children. They believe children are happy and healthy when able to work and play outdoors. And there is plenty of opportunity. They have chickens, ducks, cats, and a dog, as well as a very large garden and an orchard. There is enough to do that everyone is involved. No job is too small! What started out as a ministry of Richard and Ella has now become the family ministry. All the kids are involved in the upcoming adoption and are excited to have new brothers and a sister.
Everyone is extremely happy to have found three wonderful children. Catherine and Mark are an older brother and sister pair who are very happy to be adopted together. Richard and Ella are also excited about adopting Nicolai, a two-year old boy with Down Syndrome. They have wanted to adopt a child with Down Syndrome for several years. The last time they went to Bulgaria, they were blessed to adopt a child with Noonan Syndrome. Now they have a chance to show the world that children with Down Syndrome are a blessing to all.
8/12/15—HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
Jay — soon to be named Dominic — is vision impaired, with a diagnosis of Congential microphthalmus . He is currently being cared for in a facility dedicated to the blind and vision impaired orphans. When Dominic saw a friend recently go home with his new forever family, he asked, “When will my Mommy come?”
“Mommy is coming, Dominic!” Heidi would like him to know.
Please consider helping to bring Dominic home.
Heidi is the loving single Mom to two wonderful sons adopted from China. Ben (cleft l/p) was adopted at 3 ½ in 2006, and Evan (profoundly deaf) was adopted at age 6 in 2012. Heidi is a former elementary school teacher with a huge heart for children and passion for advocacy for orphans with special needs.
“Being Mom is the greatest blessing of my life,” she explained. “I saw my new son Dominic’s profile, and immediately new he was meant to join our family. As a single mother, the expenses to adopt can be scary, but one morning I passed a church sign that said, “God doesn’t ask if you are ready, He asks you to trust him.”
Dominic will be a part of a loving family with 2 terrific older brothers and a loving Mom. He will have a loving extended family with Aunties and cousins to dote on him. He will get the medical and educational support he will need to thrive in life. Thank you and God Bless you for all that you do to help children join forever families!
8/12/15—HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
Jonathan and Angela are already parents to four little girls, and are so excited to add another sweet daughter. Adoption was something that was always in their hearts for one day, but was not in the “plan” in the immediate future. With four little girls ages eight and under, homeschooling, jobs, gymnastics, you name it, this family thought they were complete with the birth of their fourth daughter two years ago. BUT a little girl named “Flora” captured their hearts at first sight. Through much prayer, they have decided that she will be the perfect addition to their family. Flora will even be a “twin” with their 4 year old daughter Julie. The girls are incredibly excited to welcome this new sister! The girls all know that Flora will need lots of love, affection, time and therapy, as she has cerebral palsy. But they understand that every child deserves a family and they can’t wait to give Flora the family and the life that she deserves.
Daniel and Stacy are thrilled to be adopting again!
Daniel is a mechanical engineer with Nissan and Stacy is a speech-language pathologist turned stay-at-home and homeschooling mom. They have been married for 9 years and have 4 children. Three biological children: Noah (5), Eli (3), and Emma (1), and one daughter through adoption: Selah (2) from Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa. However, although her adoption is complete she is unable to come home due to an exit letter suspension that has been in place since September 2013. They are hopeful she will be released from DRC and able to join her family soon.
Thru the process of waiting for Selah, Daniel and Stacy knew God was stretching them. He was teaching them lessons on waiting, perseverance, and that anything worth having is hard. They began to focus more on Selah and the children waiting rather than their dream to adopt a young baby. They began to realize that no adoption is a non-special needs adoption. All children come home with some sort of special needs. The things that used to scare them, such as disabilities, didn’t seem so scary anymore. After all, it’s not about fulfilling our needs as parents but about the children. It’s about giving a child a home that needs one. And knowing it will be messy and hard.
Daniel and Stacy had felt the call to adopt for many years and knew God had led them to adopt from Congo. However, after completely emotionally drained, they didn’t know if they would ever adopt internationally again.
One night, Stacy found a little girl listed on an adoption photolisting. She was nearly 3 years old and had Down syndrome. She remembered her time working as an SLP and how she always had a special place in her heart for children with Down syndrome. This little girl was in China and they didn’t meet the requirements. However, Stacy kept feeling drawn to the little girl’s picture.
Then, in January of 2015, China changed some requirements for the better! They suddenly qualified where they didn’t before. Then, once again, Stacy saw a little girl called “Lisi” on the photolisting that she felt drawn to. Since they now qualified, she decided to inquire about her. The file was sent and they was amazed! When looking at all the pictures, Stacy discovered it was the same little girl from months ago! This agency was just using a different picture!
Daniel and Stacy spent much time in prayer and research. They both felt drawn to this little girl. Finally, the agency sent a couple of videos and when they saw Lisi smiling at the camera, they both broke down in tears. They knew she was their daughter. They made it official with the agency on Lisi’s 3rd birthday.
Daniel and Stacy always knew they wanted a big family and love that God is in charge with how big that family will be! Now when they say they are called to adopt, they know that the calling may not come when we think is best, but when God knows is best. Daniel and Stacy are still fighting to bring Selah home and now in process to bring Lisi home as well.
God has used the wait and struggle for Selah to mold Daniel and Stacy so they would be ready to say ‘yes’ to another little girl in China. God uses hard, impossible things to bring glory to Him. What started off as a journey to bring home a healthy baby girl has resulted in striving to bring home a toddler from Africa and a toddler with a lifelong special need from China.
And that is the perfect story after all.
8/5/15— USCIS APPROVED
Follow the family’s adoption journey on their blog at abbacry.blogspot.com
Rachel Lawrence is beyond excited and blessed to soon be a mother for Austin. She is an intervention specialist (special education teacher) and also runs a horseback riding program for kids with special needs. God is in control and he has been blessing and paving the path to help bring Austin home. This is her first adoption and she is beyond grateful for all the support and prayers of those around her. Rachel is a single mother who has always known that she wanted a family through adoption. When she came across Austin on Reece’s Rainbows, she just knew it was time to begin her family and Austin was who she needed to bring home! Rachel can’t wait to meet and hold Austin. He will be growing up on a small farm with family and friends close by. Thank you for your prayers and support during this process!
8/2/15—HOMESTUDY in PROCESS
You can follow our adoption at rachelsadoption.weebly.com