National Adoption Month

Parenting a Child with Down Syndrome

So what’s it like to parent a child with Down syndrome? How long do you have to read this article? Because I could probably fill a book with the myriad of answers to this question. So for the sake of blog etiquette, I’ll keep it as succinct as possible.

My personal experience only goes so far. Our son, Kirill, was adopted from a Russian institution at the age of five and he’s been home with us for 2.5 years. So a lot of our experience has been influenced by the neglect and trauma of living in an orphanage for the first five years of his life. Our experience is vastly different from many of our friends who have biological children with DS, or who have parented their adopted children with DS from birth or soon after.

First, let’s talk about the medical stuff because people are always concerned about that. Kirill doesn’t currently have any additional health complications that sometimes accompany DS. However, we had to do a lot of testing to rule out any of these common issues AND we had to do a lot of interventions and therapies (still do) to help him learn to do many age-appropriate skills. Medically, we had special X-rays of his spine in case there was any sign of instability, extensive heart testing to make sure there were no issues there, and a swallow study. At first, Kirill couldn’t swallow normally and we had to thicken all of his foods and liquids to make sure he didn’t aspirate on them. We worked with a speech therapist and an occupational therapist on swallowing skills for a few months and these issues quickly resolved for him.

Kirill also had a lot of […]

He took our ‘Yes’ – The Boulton Family

There were two main concerns my husband and I had about adopting a child with Down syndrome. How would it affect us, and how would it affect our other children? As we talked and prayed through our concerns we knew that this is what God was asking of our family and we trusted that He would cover it all. The truth is every time you add another member to your family it changes the whole dynamic. There is less time, and less money. But for us what we were to gain was so much more.

We mourned the loss of the dream of a one bedroom retirement house on the beach. We mourned the empty nest that will never be. We mourned the dreams we had for ourselves. And then we allowed God to anoint us with His oil of JOY for the dreams He has for our lives, which we know FAR EXCEED anything we could imagine.

We talked with our children about the changes that were to come. We would need their help. We would be asking much of them. They were excited! They were ready to welcome another sibling into our family through adoption.

As God would have it, He took our ‘YES’ and ran with it! God brought us TWO BABIES!  We took placement of our Ruby in August 2012, and Conner came home in May 2013.  Both just a few weeks old when we got them, and just 11 months apart from each other.  Both with Down syndrome.

I wish you could peak into my home and see what these babies have done to us. They are our little gifts. They are healers; they are joy; they are hope; they are angels from […]

The Faces of HIV in 2013

I was driving to work this morning and passed by a billboard that reads, “I am living with HIV and my brother is standing with me.” As I read it, there was this moment inside of me where I *forgot* that I too am living with people who have HIV. And just as fast, the flash was gone and I remembered my babies.The truth is, I never thought this would be my life. I mean, come on. MY life? Single and raising not one, but TWO children who have HIV?  Sheez. I must be crazy!  Here’s some more truth:  I never {okay, very rarely} think about it!  My boys, wrestling in full-nelson style on the floor?  Nope. Doesn’t occur to me. Wet beds, runny noses, coughs, vomit?  Never think of HIV.  Leah and Seth sharing drinks, food, baths, and germs?  Not a second thought. My children engaged in straight-up-mania in the jumping pool?  Zilch. Is there a chance one of them could get hurt and bleed? Um, yea. There’s always that chance! But if they bleed — hear this now — they are not going to “catch” HIV from each other.  Period, full stop.More truth? Listen up. I don’t think our friends think about it either. {gasp} That’s the thing about the truth. Once you know it, you’re not afraid!!!I pray that those of you who are considering adoption would consider that HIV is, as our founder Kiel Twietmeyer has said, a “cheater” special need.  It is medically manageable and not scary.  For those children who are in need of a loving home, could God be leading YOU to parent a child with HIV?  Are you willing to step out in faith for this? Or […]

“God didn’t call us to easy” Testimony of the Knights

From our FIG Awassa Directors Greg and Charisa Knight:

The beginning: 17 years ago with a momma’s heartcry and a dad’s face to face visit with orphaned children.

The blessing: 2 crazy loved Ethiopian boys who have rocked our world and the HUGE privilege of being able to serve hand in hand with our Ethiopian brother and sisters bringing hope to children and families in Awassa through Project HOPEFUL Awassa 

There is so much more to these stories that I think I would have to have a 2 hour video. I am going to sum them up quickly with Things I Have Learned Through Adoption:

1) Don’t put God in a box.  My boxes that God busted open:

  We put under age 3 because I didn’t want to full with “baggage” (Ab was almost 6 when he came home to us)
  I am not traveling with Greg because I can’t handle it (terrified of planes!)    (God said yes, you can )
  I don’t want to meet or have any relationship with birth family. It’s too emotionally complex.  (We did and now have a beautiful      relationship with them and I can’t imagine not having it! I am sooo glad God busted that one!)
  special needs parameters.  We went from “minor correctable special needs” to wishing we had opened that up more during our    adoption to now if we were currently do an adoption would much broader and include HIV. Be sure to keep an open mind and heart for that decision.

2) Remember that God is faithful. 

When we accepted our first referral for a little guy who was 7 months old, the whole slow down in Ethiopa happened and I was a mess thinking that the […]

About to Jump…

This post is by our Waiting Child Director, Jenni Johnston:

Our home is about to be open to foster children. I keep going back and forth between being super excited and super depressed about the whole thing. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for our family. I’m excited to see the miracles and lives changed forever because we gave God our YES.  We didn’t give God our “super pumped up, I want to change the world!!” YES. We gave him our “fine, I guess… since things didn’t play out our way” YES.

2013 has been my nightmare.

Starting in 2011, I began begging my husband and God for a little girl in Russia, who had HIV. I had seen her picture and knew she was my daughter. It took 11 months of me crying, praying, and yelling for my husband to feel the same way. Those were some bad months!  I began to see my husband as the obstacle in my way rather than the love of my life. We ended up in marital counseling… Not my best moment. The problem was, I KNEW, without a doubt, she was my daughter. I no longer could focus on anything else.

March 2012: My husband came home and said God changed his mind. We started the process and got to meet our princess on November 26, 2012. It was AMAZING.

She and Josh bonded. She was so proud of her new father!

When it was time for us to leave we promised her we would be back for court in a couple months. She cried and said she would wait for us.

By the end of December there were rumors about US/Russian adoptions being banned. As the weeks passed it […]

The Orphan Crisis Without Adoption

We could spend hours or days (or longer) debating the question of whether everyone is “called” to adopt or whether it is even a call or a command or whether the Church is necessarily failing because everyone hasn’t adopted.  Today, we set those questions aside and talk about non-adoption options for supporting orphans, or maybe even preventing them.  Let’s discuss “caring for widows and orphans in their distress.”  James 1:27.

Project HOPEFUL operates a number of programs specifically designed to address the needs of widows and orphans in the countries where we operate.  For example, our Hope + Sisterhood program in Uganda, Ethiopia, and soon, Guatemala, partners women and families from the United States with women who are HIV positive from these countries.  The goal of the program is to give the women a “hand up” out of poverty and to help them become self-sustaining as a family.  Many of the women in our program are widows or have been abandoned by husbands upon learning of their positive HIV status.  Most have children, some of whom are positive.  Rather than continue the cycle of poverty and relinquishment for adoption, the Sisterhood seeks to empower these women to start businesses and use the financial support they receive for six months to plan for the future and family sustainability.  For more information about our Hope + Sisterhood, check out our website:  http://projecthopeful.org/hope-sisterhood/

Village of Hope cares for special needs orphans in San Lucas, Guatemala and teaching them about the love of Jesus Christ.  VoH welcomes families and children into its “Village” where these individuals are loved on by house parents, provided food, shelter and education.  The goal is to create a loving home where the people we serve […]

Addicted to God Through the Orphan

This post is by our staff member, Jen Knapp:

Two years ago today, with great anticipation, I boarded a flight for Accra, Ghana. My husband stayed back with our other two daughters. I was finally going to bring Juliana home! The last six months of our second adoption had not gone at all how we expected. Not a surprise…now that we’re veterans! It was like a bad dream you couldn’t wake up from. Everything that was supposed to happen didn’t. Every promise that was made was broken. Every extra
documentation the Embassy asked for wasn’t enough.

Friends fasted. Neighbors cried. Government officials petitioned. We could not find favor in getting Juliana her Visa to come home. Thirteen weeks felt like thirteen years.

Until. God showed up.

He showed up in a very unexpected, powerful way through the organization I am writing this post for. Out of no where, I was reminded about an article I had read the previous winter. The article was in People Magazine about the founder of Project HOPEFUL. God prompted me to remember this article SO THAT I could find them at the right time. It seemed like God wanted to manifest his power and presence through the favor of this organization. And He did just that. Project HOPEFUL was used by the Lord to bring justice to a part of our adoption case that was unjust.

I was reminded again this past weekend of the responsibilities I have as a follower of Christ to grow up. To mature. The bible says in 1 Peter “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” [1 Peter 2:2-3]. […]

Adoption Is Not About You

A post from our staff member, Deb Steiner

There is an article circulating on Facebook right now entitled, “Marriage is not for you.”  As a single person, I read the title and thought, “You got that right.  Apparently.”  Ha!  But then I read the article and realized that the title was just one part of what this husband was saying.  Marriage is not for you . . . it’s for family and for your spouse.  It’s laying down SELF for another person (and family) in a total and complete way.  It’s not about you.  

November is adoption awareness month, and I’m just going to say it:  Adoption is not for you.

I am a huge advocate for adoption in those cases where a child is truly in need of a family (more on that in another post).  My brothers were adopted; my three children were adopted; I have supported countless friends in their adoptions.  It would be crazy to think I’m anything other than an {huge} adoption advocate.

And yet . . .

I don’t want you to adopt.  I don’t want you to adopt if you think it’s a fad.  I don’t want you to adopt if you are doing it for your ego or to receive accolades from people you do and don’t know.  I don’t want you to adopt if you have a savior complex.  I don’t want you to adopt if you are filling a God-sized hole in your heart.  I don’t want you to adopt if you intend to treat your children who were adopted differently than your biological children.  {This seems painfully obvious.}  I don’t want you to adopt if you think you have to.  I don’t want you to adopt if you can’t say now that it’s FOREVER.  Please, don’t adopt.

Over the last couple of years we have seen […]