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!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More miracles...

It's been a whole week of miracles for Theo. This amazing little boy has really come so far from the day in July that we met a little tiny bag of bones. There are still some uncertainties and I can still feel his hip bones through his jammies, but what good news I have received this week!

Firstly, Theo had an appointment with a specialist for a condition that was going to require surgery. Now, we are not in a small town by any means, but this specialist only comes here once a month. So I guess he is pretty special! ha! It took some time to get an appointment.

Surprise!!! No surgery needed. The doctors in Ukraine were wrong. Heck, the doctors at the children's hospital here in the USA were wrong, too. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was flabbergasted!

Later that day we got Theo (Zhen and Ralph, too!) fitted for some ankle/foot orthotics. Theo's going to walk one of these days, I just know it. We are going to give his feet and ankles all the support they need to make it happen. The good news here? All of Theo's deductibles and co-insurance limits have been met, so there will be no out-of-pocket expense for these braces.

Yesterday was the long awaited pediatric dentist appointment for my little man. I was quite certain that very few of his teeth would be salvageable. I felt a little, ok a lot, odd walking in carrying him in an infant car seat. Everyone was so kind though that I soon felt at ease. The hygienist was able to scrape a ton of strangely colored tartar off many of Theo's teeth, with me holding him down. All of a sudden his mouth didn't look so scary.

The dentist came and examined him shortly after and found no problems other than a couple of enamel defects. In fact, she pointed out some positive things about his the nicely spaced lower front teeth. There is plenty of room for adult teeth to come in without crowding. Again, I was blown away. I was pretty certain he would have multiple teeth pulled. Great news, huh?!

Last night Theo and I stayed up late together like we normally do. After his injection he gets a little hyped up. I put him in the high chair and let him eat some little baby puffs. He did great scooping them up and getting them into his mouth without any assistance from me. Then after the puffs ran out I decided to see what he would do with a cracker. See?

He did a fantastic job of munching on his crackers and moving the food back in his mouth to swallow. Very little food that went in came back out again. He's learning to eat!!!! Without feeding therapy! I knew that he would learn with opportunity and a little time. Still, I call it a miracle.

Next week...preschool evaluations, sedated hearing test and MRI. Looking forward to the many more miracles that are to come!!

2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pie Warrior

Zara. Most certainly not her real name.

No photo. No face. No grant.

An orphan with no name and no face and no money.

I had some grand plans to raise big money for her adoption fund when I signed up to be her Reece's Rainbow Christmas Warrior. But, life with our two newly adopted boys has gotten in the way. It's the story of my life...over promise and under deliver.

Not much I can do about "life" right now. I mean, we still are trying to get doctor appointments for Theo and Zhen. But, there are a few things I can do.

When we were preparing to adopt I made enchiladas for donation until my hands turned orange. I was really happy to make something instead of just asking for gifts. I was happy to use good quality ingredients and provide something that people would enjoy.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I had the opportunity to hone my pie making skills. I have not used shortening or margarine for nearly 10 years. Yes, we quit hydrogenated oils long before it was cool, so my pie crust was made with butter and unbleached flour. The pies were so delicious, the crust so crispy that I was compelled to make more pies on Saturday. I was fighting off the children just so the pies could cool off!

So...even though Thanksgiving is over and done for the year...'tis still the season! I'll be making high quality pumpkin and pecan pies for local people for the next month. If you are in the Wichita area and you'd like to give one a try leave me a little comment and I'll get right back to you! I'm covering the cost of the ingredients and donating my time so that I can donate 100% of my proceeds to Zara's Angel Tree fund.

Enjoy a creamy pumpkin or crispy sweet pecan pie for a donation of $15. I'll even deliver! Save yourself a few headaches and let me make the pies for your holiday events. And together maybe we can help Zara have a Merry Christmas next year!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No turning back!

So thankful today that Theo and Zhen are home with us. Thankful to God for his great work of deliverance! What a blessing they are to our family! It just feels like such a privilege to be entrusted to care for them. Honestly I feel that way about all my children, but it's different with those two new boys.

Watching Theo grow stronger every day makes my heart want to burst with love and appreciation for him. I often think of the four years he spent lying in a crib 24/7. It's hard to wrap your head around that, isn't it? He's energetic and loving his freedom these days. No turning back!

Psalm 107:14-15 (New King James Version)

14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh goodness! Lookie!

You should know that Theo cannot yet pull up. He cannot get into a sitting position. He can't crawl. But look...

He can stand for several minutes!!

He's getting noticeably stronger every day! And I think he's growing, too.

Sweetie! He's a true miracle!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The nannies would be proud...or not so much.

Yesterday I took the kids to the park downtown for the annual Turkey Trot race. Richard ran in the 10 mile race and Thomas ran the 2 mile race. It was chilly and I was afraid that Zhen might get cold riding in the stroller.

Here's Zhen in his coat and hat. I did have him completely zipped up with the hood and mittens on. But, that didn't last as long as I thought it would. ha!
It's Kansas, so the day was fairly windy. By the time we got home his poor little cheeks were bright red. A little lotion helped a lot. I tried to teach him how to rub it in, but he didn't seem to care.
Tomorrow: appointment for orthotics!! We are going to get these boys walking!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Please pray...

You simply must read what my friend Julia has written HERE.

In fact, for your convenience I have decided to post the entire thing here for you. Because we know what we know and we have seen what we have seen, we have a great responsibility.


A few weeks ago I posted about a vote on a bill that would put a moratorium on adoptions in Aaron's former country. The bill passed once, but needs to pass a second time before it goes to the President and is signed into law. If the bill stays as it is written then adoptions in that country will come to a screeching halt. I've heard a lot of differing information, advice, thoughts etc. about when the second vote will take place. It is very possible that the vote will take place next week. Thanksgiving week. Some say November 22 and some say November 24. Some say it will not happen until spring. Only the Lord knows when that vote will take place. It is an extremely serious matter and we need to be praying hard that this bill will either not pass or that the wording of the bill changes so that adoptions, especially the special needs adoptions, will not be hindered. Consider the following:

  • Next Thursday is the LAST day this year when that country will be accepting dossiers until the end of February. This is a normal process that takes place each year. Those families who are not submitted in the next two weeks will have to wait until early next year for submission.

    If the bill passes and if it is signed as it it currently written:

  • Then those families who have been racing against time to get their dossier to that country by the cut off date will find all their work to have been done in vain.
  • All the families who are currently in that country and have met their child BUT HAVE NOT HAD COURT will be sent home.
  • All the families who have bags packed, plane tickets in hand and are ready to walk out the door to go get their children will not get to go.
  • All the families who have had all their paperwork submitted over there and are just waiting for a travel date will be left hanging.
  • All the families who have mailed their dossiers and are praying they will be accepted either this week or next week by the agency that processes adoptions will not be submitted.

There are about 30 Reece's Rainbow families in the above situations. 30 families who are hoping to bring home over 40 children. FORTY. There are over 40 other families who are working hard on their paperwork in order to be submitted early next year. We are talking over 100 SPECIAL NEEDS children who have families right now willing to sacrifice everything to get them home.

It is a battle. A spiritual battle that needs to be won. Four years ago these children were hidden from society. They were unwanted. They were dying in their cribs. Alone. But God has raised up an army of loving families who want these kids. They want the unwanted ones. They are shocking the orphanage directors, the nannies, the doctors and the social workers. Each time one of the 'least of these' is selected, they are making a powerful statement to the powers that be in this country and others that these little ones have value. They deserve life, love and families. They don't need to be discarded at the hospitals. They can grow and learn and thrive. Hearts are changing and the powers of darkness are not pleased. It is a spiritual battle. As the church is waking up, realizing its call in this forgotten realm, the battle lines are being drawn.

Pure and simple - we need to pray. We have on our side, a Mighty God. He is the One who has called the church to action and He is the One who is leading this battle. I have in my house the sweetest little guy because God placed it in on our hearts to GO GET HIM. Our call did not end when we walked off the plane. One child whisked out of darkness is not enough. We need to battle with the rest of the families who are fighting against the odds to get these children out. They have been called by God and we need to stand with them in prayer that NOTHING will prevent them for fulfilling His plans.

Pray church. Pray that the bill either doesn't pass or that it is reworded. Pray that God will continue to move in the hearts and minds and souls of each and every orphanage and institute director. Pray that the doors of these places would be flung open and that the church would be able to march inside. Pray that through the testimony of every single family who goes over there, that the system of discarding the special needs children would come to an end. Pray. Pray for the vote. Pray for the people God has put in place who are working around the clock to address the issue. Pray for the families. Pray for God's peace to reign in their hearts as they journey in this unknown. There are numerous other families who are trying to adopt in Aaron's former country who are also deeply affected by this vote. They are not Reece's Rainbow families but they are just as much in need of our prayer covering. We know many in this group and we agonize with them also. They too desperately need our prayers. This vote affects thousands of children stuck in a very harsh system. Pray not only for the families, but for God's call for you. Pray for discernment as you wrestle with whether God is calling you to adopt. Pray hard, church.

Those who are unable at this time to rescue a child, you are not off the hook. You are called to support the families who are going. You are called to GIVE. You are called to be an encourager, a supporter. You are called to pray. So pray. And lest you forget for whom we pray:

**I left the photos on Julia's blog. You can also see the hundred's of waiting children at Reece's Rainbow. **

All of the precious little ones pictured above need families. I can't look at their faces without wanting to cry. They are helpless, needy and desperately in need of your prayers and support.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Zhen and the racoon

Zhen has been afraid of stuffed animals for as long as I have known him. We are working on this! I know this looks a little mean, but of course I didn't get the camera out soon enough...

He was so curious and he really wanted to play. We were practicing giving the racoon high fives and he would crack up every time...and then cry for a second...and then do it again!! What an awesome kid. I love to watch him open up and try new things. Even if I have to push him a little bit.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coming Down

Sitting here tonight feeling so very blessed. And yet, so very dissatisfied.

Lately at night I've been watching some documentaries about climbing Mt. Everest. (I gotta be up to give midnight meds.) Did you know that most of the deadly accidents on expeditions to the highest peak on earth occur on the descent? On the way down?

Traveling to Eastern Europe and bringing home our boys was a definite spiritual peak. I walked closely with my Lord through some very dark places and days. I was fearless. What a high place!

Now that we've been home several months I'm on the way down from that peak. Coming down isn't nearly as exciting. Especially when you find yourself doing face plants! I'll get through it, but no one really talks about how to get down. We all struggle and scrape to get up...but then what?

I'm feeling very powerless and weak. I feel like a failure some days. Especially when it comes to advocating for the children we left behind. I left a huge chunk of my heart behind when we left. I can't just sit here enjoying my blessings. I've got to DO something.

Anyone else have trouble getting down from the mountain? How did you manage?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sometimes things are not working but you keep doing the same thing anyway. This is how feeding Theo has been going. Each day we have a goal. A minimum number of calories for him to take in. Every day he was falling short.

If we had to leave for an appointment or a day trip it was just a disaster! I thought it was me. It seemed like all I would do all day is feed that beautiful boy. And it was.

I didn't understand what was going on. After nine babies you would think I'd know a thing or two, right?

It was the bottle.

I didn't feel like washing his bottle the other day and so I gave him a different style bottle that I had in the cabinet. He sucked his 6 ounces down in about 5 minutes, burped and was ready to play!! He hadn't had time to play for a long time. Playtime is so important because that is when I work with him on conditioning.

He has not started physical therapy or any other services yet, but I know a thing or two. He is getting stronger. He is getting around! He is getting in trouble!!!

I've got to get some video of him "inch worming" his way around! This kid is SO much fun.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eating - orphanage style

Zhen takes his food very seriously. He doesn't lose interest in eating until the food is gone. He eats like a champ!

I have made a point to feed him whenever possible. It is a sweet way to show him attention and affection. However, he is quite skilled with a bowl and spoon!

Tonight he is using the metal bowl and an extra large spoon. We call this eating "orphanage style."

Actually, it could easily be called Eastern European style. Every time I ordered soup or stew over there I was given a HUGE spoon. Mmmmm. I could go for a big bowl of borscht right about now!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I wanna go back...

I had a dream the other night where I brought my sons back to their Eastern European orphanage for a visit. I have a super duper overactive imagination so it was really...umm...surreal. The children were having art lessons for pity's sake! I knew where I was even though it was unrecognizable.

I don't put much stock in this type of dream. I think of it like housekeeping for the mind. More like purging! I don't consider this dream to be any sort of oracle or calling. But...

It makes me want to be there. There is a chunk of my heart missing. I'm pretty sure it broke off in that stuffy upstairs grouppa room.

I never had a difficult time sharing what it was like over there like other people I know. Maybe it just wasn't that bad? Maybe my heart is a little harder than it could be. Now, nearly three months out, I'm starting to forget. I'm wondering if it really changed me or not. I need to go back.

Crazy. There are a few children I'd go back for.

If I had to. If no one else goes. No one else seems to be interested. My goodness, could I even pull that off again?

OK, rambling here. Must be bedtime!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Whoa!! Man, that flash is bright!
Hey look at me! I can actually sit up by myself like a big boy. Do you recall the photos from the orphanage where I was shown how to tie him to the playpen bars so that he could sit up and play? No more of that nonsense.

People say that they can tell Theo is growing. I can't see it. Not yet anyway. I need numbers to look at. I do see that he is filling out a little bit. I love to get my hands on his squishy little thighs! It's better than squeezing the Charmin!! This is a very welcome sight compared to just two months ago.

Theo's teeth are growing too! Isn't that cool and strange? It seems as if he was in suspended animation for a few years and now he's picking up where he left off. He still breaks my heart and I have many concerns, but we have new hope each day! Love this little dolly with all my heart.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Angel Tree is here!

I'm a Christmas Warrior for ZARA

An adoption grant fund is a Reece's Rainbow orphan's best friend. That is until their family finds them...but then one thing leads to the other. And when their family finds them they are no longer orphans, are they?
Theo's grant fund made it possible to adopt him, and it wasn't a moment too soon. Zhen's grant fund made it possible to bring him home as well. The only thing that keeps the children featured on Reece's Rainbow from being adopted
A Reece's Rainbow orphan's second best friend is a cute photograph. It's just a fact that the kids who get chosen first are the ones with an adorable picture.
Sadly, my Angel Tree child has neither! No photo. No money. Yet.
But, she's only 20 months old! What a blessing it would be to get her home in time to benefit from early intervention services, which end at the age of 3. A blessing for her and for her family, too.
For each gift of $35 or more you make, you will receive a beautiful Reece's Rainbow Christmas ornament. Please consider Zara...for all the other nameless and faceless orphans out there.

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