Psalm 68:5-6

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

I am Stepanie Nance. My family adopted two little boys with Down Syndrome from Ukraine in 2010. I hope to educate and to inspire you. I hope to make you laugh and to make you cry.

Come along for the ride. It's a wild one!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Congrats!

Congrats to Amy and Heather, the winners of my necklace and book giveaway! Thank you for supporting us in our effort to rescue Alec and Zhenya.

By the way have you seen the McDonald's blog? They have blessed us with some candid shots of Zhenya this week. We are just so in love with this little guy already! Check it out HERE.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Two little weeks.

Two weeks. Two weeks from now, God willing, James and I will be on an airplane over the Atlantic ocean.

Two weeks never seemed so short!

We really have so very much to do. It's making my head swim so instead of actually doing something productive, I find myself searching for baby names or reading other families' adoption blogs! ARGHH!!

I'm going to bed early tonight and I'm going to attack my to do lists with a vengeance tomorrow. Here are some of the items on the list:
- complete financial aid paperwork for Richard. He will most likely be away at college before I return! :(
- make meal plans for two weeks and cook a few things to freeze
- put the rules of the house down in writing. I don't want to come home to a wrecked house and spoiled children.
- make a spreadsheet for Ralph's medication. I need to implement this right away. I want a box initialed every time he gets his meds. That way I know who gave it and when. This is so easy to mess up when chaos reigns.
- re-read the adoption handbook and make a packing list.
- shop for enchilada ingredients. I'm out of everything and I have more deliveries to make tomorrow!
- sell more enchiladas! We are still $3000 short and need to find it before we leave!
- order new money. The country where we are traveling likes crisp new bills only. We need to put in an order at our bank soon, in case it takes some time.

OK, there's more, but I'm going to stop before I get thoroughly depressed.

On the bright side, this blog may actually get interesting soon. I can't wait to post photos! Won't that be fun? Some people take photos of all the food they order. Are you even interested in that? Just wondering. I still need to find a camera to take with us!

I'll put that on the list.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My new definition of perfection.

I'll never forget the day Ralphie was born. It was a Sunday. In my memory it was the perfect Sunday. Worship service was fantastic. My perfect family was a joy. The weather was perfect for playing outside.

I labored in my bed, at home, with my favorite music playing in the background. Singing along helped me to cope with the pains. I followed my instinct to rest as much as possible. My windows were open and I could hear the children playing outside.

In an instant that evening, my perfect world was shattered to a million bits.

When my water broke there were signs of "old" meconium. This was an emergency. I found the strength to power Ralphie out. The midwife suctioned him as well as possible and gave him oxygen while James called 911. The midwife said to me at one point, "I think your baby may have Down Syndrome." Whatever. I hurried to get dressed and suddenly there were firefighters and paramedics in my bedroom.

I rode to the hospital in the back of an ambulance holding my new son wrapped in a bath towel in one arm and holding an oxygen mask over his tiny face with the other hand. He was calm and beautiful staring up at me. Could there really be anything wrong with this cute little thing? He looked perfect.

As far as I was concerned, he was perfect.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Guess what?

I wanted to finish my story last week, but I've been feeling very poor. I had a gallbladder attack last month and my doctor thought it would be a good idea for me to have it removed before we travel to Eastern Europe. The recovery has not been a piece of cake, let me tell you.

So, I'll finish the story later because I have something else to say tonight. He have our SDA appointment!!

July 14!!

This is the appointment date we have been waiting for. That day we will sit down with the adoption officials in Alec and Zhenya's country and view their files and accept their referral. The next day we will pick up the referral and take the overnight train to the city where the orphanage is located. If all goes smoothly we hope to meet the boys on July 16.

I want desperately to be excited! I just have had hardly any time to really take it in. I had a bunch of enchiladas to deliver this morning, and more to make tomorrow. I needed to get my ten year old son off to church camp today. I did spend some time booking flights today, so that was kind of cool and scary at the same time. I'm just pooped out!

Please remember our fundraiser giveaways. Time is short and so are we!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Too small...

I'm interrupting our family history once again! I'd like to add a giveaway item to my chip-in fundraiser.

In his book Too Small to Ignore, Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International, weaves the story of his boyhood adventures in Africa with the story of the condition of childhood in the world. This book is challenging, uplifting and you won't want to put it down. It will change the way that you look at children forever!

The chip-in drawing will take place on June 30. Please consider making a donation of $10 or more to help us rescue Alec and Zhenya.





Monday, June 14, 2010

Giveaway

Look at this beautiful hand painted pendant! This was made by my multi-talented friend Leah. She is a talented artist and a pastry maker. Please take the time to check out her website HERE.

These are original watercolors in a 2 inch by 2 inch silver frame. It comes with an 18 inch chain.
For a suggested donation of $10, I'll put your name in the hat for this necklace. If you also share this on your blog, I'll double your chances and put your name in the hat again! Just post your link in the comment section. Drawing and winner announced on June 30. Thanks everyone!



Sunday, June 13, 2010

New convictions.

As much as a blessing that a strong Christian heritage would have been for me, I have found blessings in coming to Christ as an adult. For one thing, it gave me an opportunity to question everything in light of my faith and God's word. It was all new territory. What did He have to say about how I live my life? If I trusted Him enough to save me, did I trust Him enough to give Him control of every area of my life?

First, let me assure you that I do not claim to write from a position of victory in any area. I'm still being refined, believe me!

For one thing, I was convicted early on that as a Christian, I was not to use any form of birth control. With six children already, we faced the prospect of moving from the realm of the large family to the realm of the spectacle! We accept God's financial and material blessings with eagerness. Why is it that we reject His blessings of of sons and daughters?

Psalm 127:3-5 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

So we soon welcomed baby number seven, Leroy, into our family. He is named for James father, Robert Leroy, who died suddenly earlier that year. He was a wonderful papa for our children and is sorely missed. Our firstborn is named for him, too, Robert!

We were blessed to find a great deal on a 15 passenger van after Leroy was born and even got to take a family vacation that year! The next year we went out on a limb and built a new seven bedroom home for our growing family. We were not unhappy in our three bedroom/one bath but it was getting tight!

Things were falling into place. My life was perfect! Seven beautiful, healthy children. Loving husband. Brand new home. Guess what else? That's right! We were expecting a baby!

I was about to get a lesson in perfection.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Goodbye to Arizona. :(

Something had to change. I longed to be home with my babies. Though I had a rewarding career with a fantastic company I chose to leave it all behind.

In his field, James could not make a decent living in Arizona. Wages were not as depressed in Kansas, so back we went. It was very hard for me to leave the desert and our friends and the lifestyle we enjoyed in Arizona. I was lonely and sad until one of the mom's in Richard's kindergarten class invited me to visit her church.

The children and I started going to Sunday school and loved it. I've always been seeking God and knew I finally found him. The teaching was straight out of the Bible and Truthseekers was even the name of the class. I invited James to come. He must have seen some changes in us because he agreed! Together we began our faith journey and were baptized together on Pentecost Sunday in 1999.

Later that year Thomas was born, making us a family of 6. He was born at home, on purpose! After three unsatisfactory hospital births, I was hooked on giving birth at home. I never asked for pain meds because it just wasn't an option. I was able to eat and drink when I needed, walk and rest when I needed, and push out a ten pound four ounce baby boy with no trouble at all! Best part? Daddy's hands were the first hands to hold him.

These were good times. We enjoyed each other and our new friends at church. We bought our first minivan. Jordan, boy number five, was born two years later. Eighteen months later we hit the jackpot! Rose, our first little girl was born.

You never saw such a happy mommy as me! Our dining table was so loaded with baby girl gifts that you could not see it. With six children, and finally, our girl, I'm sure that most people thought we were done having children. Most people thought wrong!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let think of something...

In the immortal words of Fred Rogers, let's think of something to do while we're waiting!

It has been a week since our paperwork was submitted to the government in Alec and Zhenya's country. I don't have a clue when we will find out our travel date and I'm getting tired of trying to guess. So let's think of something else to think about.

Many of you do not know us personally, so today I'll tell you a little bit about our family.

James and I met in college. Well, not really in college, but more like in a popular nightclub near the college! We were just 20 years old and still trying to figure out our lives. He says that when he met me, he knew instantly that he loved me and we would be married. He was quite persuasive! We really started out all wrong, making all sorts of mistakes. Now that we are born again, Bible believing Christians, we can see that it was the grace of God that brought us through all the rough times!

Our first son, Wesley, was born in 1991 with a serious GI obstruction. He required surgery at the age of 1 day. I was initiated into the world of the NICU. Even today, the scent of a particular kind of hospital soap takes me back to those days. James and I learned to cling to one another then, cementing our commitment to each other. We brought our son home after two more major surgeries at 2 1/2 months of age.

We were surprised, but not really, to find out that I was pregnant shortly after bringing Wes home. We decided that the time was right for us to get married. So we threw together a little ceremony in a week's time. I wore a pink maternity sweater set with pearls. Not the dress of my dreams, but I'd rather have a beautiful marriage than a beautiful wedding dress. Our honeymoon was a discounted night at the Marriott (I worked there) with a portable crib at the end of the bed. It still baffles me that not any of our family or friends would babysit for us for one night!

Richard was born the next summer on the 4th of July. He's always been a firecracker, too! Wes turned 1 year the next week. We were young and too inexperienced to know that life would be difficult with two babies so close in age. So we just had a lot of fun and didn't think about life being tough.

I started tech school when Richard was a week old. James worked 2nd shift. We were a tag team, but a team indeed. When I graduated I left James with the boys and went to Arizona to snag my dream job. Again, too inexperienced to know that you can't just pick a company and take off across the country, show up unannounced and expect to get the job. Well, I didn't get my dream job, but I did get my foot in the door there! The dream job came a little later. :)

I worked as a laser operator, trimming resistors on integrated circuits with lasers. Later I became a technician, servicing and setting up the lasers. Later still, I became a technician in the op amp design department. Soon, baby Chipper came along and I began to rethink my role as a working mom. Not only was daycare eating up my paycheck, but leaving crying babies and driving to work was killing my heart. Something had to change.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

You Don't Have to Give Big.

I guess that most of you do not know us personally, but those that do know us know how hard we’ve been working to save and make money to bring Alec and Zhenya home. It has not been easy. The temptation is to try and do everything without having to ask for help. I guess that I went into this adoption assuming that people would offer to donate to our cause. We were very low key to begin with. We didn’t want to turn people off. Na├»ve, I know.

I look back on the past four months and I realize how many mistakes we have made in our rush to get things completed fast. We wasted time waiting on FBI background checks when it wasn’t necessary. We messed up paperwork, over and over again. And we didn’t ask for help right off the bat.

Part of the problem is the pace of our adoption. Alec was in danger of being sent to the asylum on his 4th birthday. We had to move lightning fast. It has been only a month since we applied for immigration approval. We’ll probably travel in less than a month. That’s not much time to orchestrate fundraisers and apply for grants.

I could not live the rest of my life knowing that Alec lived and died in a mental asylum because I was too frightened of the cost of adoption. I would always wonder if I had really given my everything. It is a steep price to be sure. Many loving families are scared away from saving children like Alec and Zhenya because it is so costly.

I want to give a quick shout out to some of our supporters. I know that you are helping the best that you can. Thank you to FMBC, Mom’s Carelink, Cathy, Jana, Ruth, Lisa, Marilyn, Renee (enchilada queen!), Becky, Kristin and others who would prefer to be anonymous! You have helped the best that you can. I know that many others plan to help us with the children while we are both away. You have made us feel so loved! You have helped us to get this far and we won’t forget it.

But, we could use some more help. We have so many generous friends! Like hundreds! I’ll bet they think that $5 or $10 wouldn’t help. It would only be a drop in the bucket, right? Wrong! I’ve seen God multiply every gift that we have been given so far. I can’t explain how much that has boosted my faith. You don’t have to give big to make a big difference.

Alec and Zhenya have a loving family and home waiting for them. A big sister that prayed and cried over them right along side me for months. A brother with Down Syndrome who will understand them in a way that no one else ever will. A bunch of other brothers to teach them and protect them. A daddy to wrestle with them and teach them how to play baseball. And a mommy to snuggle with and kiss their little piggies. We just need some more help to make this happen.

We thank you for sharing this on your blog, for posting this on your face book page and on twitter. Right now we can use the exposure. The more people we can reach the better, right? We are saving the lives of two special boys.

Tax deductible donations can be made through our family sponsorship page: http://www.reecesrainbow.org/sponsornance.html

If you want that tax deduction but you are not comfortable making a contribution online, checks can be mailed to:

Reece’s Rainbow
P.O. Box 4024
Gaithersburg, MD 20885

If you don’t care about a tax deduction you can contribute through the chip-in at the top of the page.

Your gifts of encouragement, time, prayer, and yes, funds, mean so very much to us. We could not accomplish this without you. Thank you for helping to save and transform the lives of two special boys. We look forward to caring for them as sons and helping them reach their full potential!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Good news! Bad news.

What do you want first? The good or the bad?

OK, the good.

I wanted to tell you before now, but this week was just nuts! The combination of heat, humidity and baseball is sapping my strength!

Here it is: Our dossier was submitted on Thursday! This means that all of our paperwork was translated (I'll bet that was fun!) and turned over the adoption authorities in Alec and Zhenya's country! We should be given a travel date in a few weeks. I like to think of it as an invitation!

The bad news isn't that terrible. We only have a few (3-6?) short weeks left to come up with the rest of the money we need to travel. We have instituted austerity measures here at home, such as oatmeal for breakfast. ;) We are planning on traveling as cheap as possible. No fancy hotels and taxis for us, nope. Studio apartments, public transportation and much walking is in our future.

I'm still making enchiladas if anyone is interested! I figure if I make and sell 300 dozen we'll be good to go! ha!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yesterday was the last time...

Dear Alec,

Yesterday was the last time that your birthday will be forgotten. Well, maybe not forgotten, but it was almost certainly not celebrated. I say not forgotten because, surely the director of your orphanage recognized that yesterday you turned four years old. That's the age when the non-typical children in your orphanage are transferred to an adult mental institution; sometimes they are even moved on their very birthday. :(

You undoubtedly do not know this, darling, but this will be a very special year for you. Your life is about to change completely, but for the better. Your daddy and I are working feverishly to come up with the last of the money we need to travel to your country and officially make you our son forever. Please know that we are coming as fast as we can!

I'm working on fixing up a room for you and two of your brothers, Ralphie and Zhenya. Next door to your room are your sisters, Rosie and Ruby. Down the hall is Wesley's room. You are really going to like him. His room is full of treasures and knick-knacks for little kids to mess with!

Mommy and daddy's room is on the other side of the house, but don't worry. I will always come when you need me! The rest of your brothers live downstairs. Down there is a great big playroom for you all. I can't wait to show you the playhouse and the slide. We are going to have such fun together! I think we will have to buy some new toys when you get home. Call it a late birthday present!

More than that, though, I cannot wait to teach you how to snuggle, and hug, and receive love. You will not suffer from a lack of affection in this house. I cannot wait to prepare and feed you nutritious food. You may have as much as you need to be satisfied. You will not feel the pain of hunger anymore.

Whenever you are comfortable and secure in our family you will start school! I know! The schools here are great and they are for everyone. I know that you are capable of learning. Has anyone called you stupid or dumb? That's a dirty lie! There is so much that you can learn and do and become.

Most of all, I cannot wait to introduce you to our Savior, Jesus. It is because of His example that we were able to find you and have the courage to come get you. Oh how He loves us!

Next year? Cake, ice cream, presents. The whole enchilada, OK? It's gonna be great!

With love,

Mommy
 


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