Waiting Kids

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 […]

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 […]

Host Families Needed: You can help!

“Without intervention, upon leaving the orphanage, 60% of girls will end up in prostitution, 70% of boys will be on the streets or in jail, and 15% will commit suicide within the first two years on their own. YOU can revolutionize the life of an abandoned child.”                                                             - New Horizons For Children

Project HOPEFUL has been informed of a cutie that has an opportunity to be hosted. You have the opportunity to make a HUGE difference in the life of a child. Every child deserves to know what the love of a family feels like. We don’t have much time left to find Vlad a host family! Please inquire quickly if you are interested in showing this handsome guy the love of Jesus!

Ten year old Vladyslav is a very diligent student and his favorite subjects are math and PE. His director describes him as very active, polite and kind. He thinks logically and likes to analize things. Very friendly and likes to socialize with friends. Vlad attends an art studio where he likes to draw, paint, and work with clay. On his free time he plays soccer and loves to read and watch cartoons. His greatest and most cherished dream – life! Vlad is HIV positive.

Vlad is being offered for hosting via New Horizons for Children (www.newhorizonsforchildren.org) for 5 weeks this summer anywhere in the U.S. Please contact Stacey at smaljian@newhorizonsforchildren.org for more information!

Adopting from Russia: The Davis Family Story

A Guest Post by Tesney Davis~

Two and a half years ago, my husband, Greg, and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. Adoption became something that he was showing us he wanted for our family. We began to pray about adopting a child with special needs. Greg and I have a lot of experience with children who have special needs. It seemed like a natural fit for our family. As we prayed, God opened our eyes to children with disabilities in orphanages across the ocean in Russia. We started our adoption journey of a child with Down syndrome. We were given a referral for a child in Russia and awaited our invitation to go meet him.

Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of the family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt the child for which we had been given a referral. We were devastated when we received the news that the child we had planned to bring into our family was no longer available for adoption. We grieved hard. Although heartbroken for our own loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt.

Shortly after losing our original referral, we received a new referral for a four-year-old boy with Down syndrome named Kirill. We were more guarded with our emotions this time, but we had no doubts that we should commit to this child. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but our commitment to this child was not something we took lightly and we gladly did whatever it […]

An Important Message from our Founder, Carolyn Twietmeyer:

Friends!

I am sure you are tiring of the begging that has taken place over the last 8 weeks to VOTE FOR PROJECT HOPEFUL through the CULIVATE WINES big grant giveaway!! But, as we always say, “NO SHAME IN OUR GAME”.

I am SHAMELESSLY begging for you to VOTE and keep Project HOPEFUL in FIRST PLACE for this $50,000. LIFE GIVING, FAMILY MAKING, STIGMA SLAYING gift opportunity!! All we need to do is stay in first place for 4 more days and we WIN!! PLEASE SHARE this with YOUR friends and help us to continue EDUCATING, ENCOURAGING AND ENABLING people to adopt the most overlooked children for adoption in the world AND help HIV+ mothers KEEP their children and expand to bring LIFE to children in places like Guatemala, where treatment is currently unavailable!! Lock arms with us through the finish line!!!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!!! We can’t finish this without you!

VOTE HERE: www.cultivatewines.com/give

All for ONE!
Carolyn

YOUR VOTE = LIFE!

2000 or Bust!

We are halfway through our 60 days in the running for a $50,000 grant from Cultivate Wines. We are so thankful for all of you who have been faithfully voting every day and keeping us in the lead!

Tomorrow, May 31st we are asking everyone to vote even if you haven’t voted any other day! Our goal is 2000 votes on that day. Lofty? You bet. But waiting children deserve no less! Will you please vote that day if none other (and we hope everyday) and spread the word on your FB page and by email of our vote on May 31? WE TRULY APPRECIATE IT.

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    “Do you know anyone who would like to take a boy like me…”

“Do you know anyone who would like to take a boy like me…”

In Eastern European countries, at around age 16, orphans are forced to leave the orphanage system to enter the world with limited education, minimal support, and sometimes the just learned knowledge that they have HIV.  Within the first five years, almost 90% of these orphans end up in crime, prostitution, drug and alcohol addiction, or commit suicide.

In Russia 10% -15% of children who “age out”   commit suicide before age 18.  70% of the boys become hardened criminals.

We have four amazing boys on our list that could easily become statistics: Tim, Jack, Jonah, and Joshua. All of whom, have glowing reports. All are young men that want to make a difference in the world. All know the chances of them being adopted are slim. We have the chance to intervene and change the stories of these boys.

“Do you know anyone who would like to take a boy like me. I would really like for a visitor at least, because I am all alone and I have no one.” -Jack

When an adoptive parent came to the orphanage, Joshua asked why they were adopting such a small boy and if they would want a boy as big as him.  When a reporter asked him if he has a dream, he said “I have to find me a dad, mom, and a dog!”

According to a volunteer: “Jonah is a wonderful, just a wonderful boy!  He said that when he was younger he had a brother who was taken into an adoptive family but they left Jonah at the orphanage; then he added sadly, ‘but it’s good he has a family now.’   With great interest, he asked about family life. ‘Do you have a porch?’  ‘Do you go out […]

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    Advocacy in Eastern Europe – More children to be helped thanks to new contacts.

Advocacy in Eastern Europe – More children to be helped thanks to new contacts.

Our Maine State Associate, Shannon Wheeler recently traveled to Ukraine, and was able to make some new contacts allowing Project HOPEFUL to advocate for even more children with HIV/AIDS.

 
The below article contained a comment about the eligibility of HIV+ children under the age of 5.  While this statement was definitely emparted to Shannon, our Maine associate, we cannot substantiate the truth of the statement at this time.  As recently as the end of August, we can verify that the SDA WAS NOT giving referrals of HIV+ children under 5 who had no other special needs diagnosis.
We are hopeful that this news relayed to Shannon will in fact be implemented very soon, but to our knowledge it has not yet happened in practice.  We apologize for any false hope or confusion this has caused.  We hope and pray that it comes to fruition imminently.  We have removed the statement from this blog post.

“Our time was blessed, the people we know at the Christian Children’s Center where we stayed made us feel at home and I’m sure blessed us way beyond what we could have possibly blessed them.” Shannon reported. “Through the network of friends we’ve made in the past couple years, we were blessed by the opportunity to meet with a wonderful Christian man, Mr. Kuleba, who is the head of all Children’s Services in Kiev.  He’s a very busy man, so the woman who directs the Center where we stayed told us it was a miracle that he had time in his schedule for us, and we’re thankful to God for this open door.

This man welcomed us into his office, and he was very interested to hear what Project HOPEFUL is doing in the […]

FIG Program Director Visits Eastern Europe

Traci Heim, the Project HOPEFUL FIG Program Director, went to Ukraine earlier this month. She was accompanied by her daughters, Sveta and Hanna. The goal of the trip was to assess orphans’ needs and orphan care opportunities, as well as establish relationships with adoption facilitators and orphanages. Additionally, donations of clothing and sports equipment were distributed to organizations like Mercy Projects/Eastern European Outreach and to each of the orphanages visited.

In the following post, Traci discusses the trip.

Prior to the trip I prayed for guidance and direction; that God would reveal to me exactly what He would have Project HOPEFUL do with the information I would glean on this trip. I had firmly established contacts in Ukraine who were to make connections for me and a supportive husband willing to do without me for the next 15 days. Generous donations from The Tinley Park Bobcats sports organization and other individuals made gifts for the orphanages possible.

We left Chicago late in the afternoon on June 1st and arrived in Kiev on June 2. British Airways’ very generous baggage allowance made it possible for us to bring eight 50 lb. oversized duffel bags full of donations at no additional charge to us. Yuri, from Eastern European Outreach (EEO), met us at the airport. EEO very generously allowed us to stay in their offices for 4 days at the beginning of the trip. They also arranged for my train tickets to Donetsk. As an aside, I need to mention that through EEO, we are able to sponsor foster families in Ukraine. These Christian families take in many children who have been orphaned. Many times when local […]

Send Me T-Shirt Giveaway: Challenge #3

Since the founding of Project HOPEFUL, we have known many children with HIV and AIDS.  Some of them have died before a family has found them.  However, we have never known a child, no matter how ill, to die in their birth country once they know that a family is coming.  The HOPE that they have is such a powerful force in their hearts that they will beat incredible odds waiting for their family to come for them. Project HOPEFUL has had the wonderful privilege of seeing 20 children matched with families just since this past April!

Project HOPEFUL’s Waiting Kids page currently includes almost 200 children who need the HOPE of knowing that a family is coming for them.  If we could reach just four families in each state with our message of HOPE and TRUTH  imagine the impact on this list alone!

Today, we’d like to challenge you to pick just one of those waiting children and advocate for them using your blog, Facebook and Twitter.  Scroll through the Waiting Kids pages and find a story that you want to share.  When you click on the child/ren’s name, choose the option along the top of the page for sharing it.  Then come back here and tell us who you advocated for.  We will choose an entry (via random.org) at 11am Central Time Friday morning (June 10th).

You can be a part of bringing HOPE to a child with this simple act of love!

Vote for Project HOPEFUL on June11th in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good program and help us educate more families and individuals so they can advocate for and adopt these wonderful waiting children.