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!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sweet Nikita

I always loved this sweet face. I suspect he was sedated and struggling to get his eyes open all the way.
Sweet little Nikita had a family on the way to adopt him, but he died a couple of days ago. Leukemia. Cancer sucks. The fact that he had no mommy and daddy sucks. The whole situation sucks. Please think of and pray for his heartbroken family who were working so hard to reach him.
When I say that we reached Theo just in time, that's exactly what I mean. There are orphans all over the world. There is suffering everywhere. But the brutality and inhumane treatment of disabled babies and children in Eastern Europe is particularly disturbing. It's a real crisis.
Things are getting better. Things are changing. The testimony of the parents who adopt these rejected and unwanted children is being noticed. Just not in time for Nikita.
Please, sweet Jesus...when will you make things right? Will you please send a family for Andrey...and Maxim...and Mila...and Pauline...and Eddie...and you get the picture? Will you send champions to defend these children and keep them from harm?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The boy from baby house 14.

Just to be crystal clear...

I'm giving away my nearly-new, hard-cover copy of The Boy from Baby House 10 to help this little boy from baby house 14*:

*FYI - Baby house 14 is a random, made up number used by Reece's Rainbow

Check out those baby blues! And that sweet little pouty mouth! I'm in love. *sigh*

See? He can smile and laugh!! This little boy is going to be a HUGE blessing to his family. Could that be your family?

Someone you know?

Someone you don't know, but knows someone that you know?

Do you see where I'm going with that? Thanks for sharing this!

Gifts of ANY size to Andrey's grant fund are appreciated. Your name goes in the virtual hat for each $5 gifted.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Are you old enough to remember the not so kind and gentle days when the P.E. teacher would choose two team captains, two handsome and physically gifted young people no doubt, and those two team captains would build their teams by alternately choosing classmates to play on their team?

Well, I am. And I do.

Because I was always picked last. Or second to last.

Maybe that's why I'm compelled to root for the underdog.

Andrey is a classic example of an underdog. He is at a huge disadvantage in his country in Eastern Europe. He is considered inferior. He's weak and expected to be a loser.

Andrey has seen parents come, choose other children and leave. He's still waiting to be picked. He's an underdog and he's going down.

Andrey is already four years old. But, he can't sit up for long by himself anymore. He cannot stand anymore, even with help. He used to be able to do these things. He is regressing. His caregivers don't have time to work with him. They think he is a worthless imbecile.

This from Andrea, who spent several months volunteering at Andrey's orphanage:

"...Andrey is quite neglected at the orphanage. Because he doesn't really sit by himself, he spends pretty much all of his time alone in a big crib-like playpen. The workers compare him to the other children with DS and often say things like, [Johnny] has down syndrome but he is smart, not like Andrey..." I have been told that I was wasting my time with him and one day when Andrey & I were in the visiting room with [Johnny] & his parents the head secretary came by and told [Johnny's] parents that they had made the right choice..."

Andrey's caregivers are wrong. He is priceless. As the least of the very least, he is royalty in God's kingdom. The Underdog Prince Andrey! How we treat him and think of him is how we treat and think of our Lord.

Again, from Andrea:
"He is such a sweetheart, so cuddly and generally a content little guy...even
just spending a couple hours a week with him, I saw a big change in him during
the few months I had with him. He learned to pull himself up while holding my
hands and started pulling himself up on the side of the crib whenever he saw me
coming. He also became much more playful and interactive with me. He has a real
sense of humour and would love to drop toys on the ground and make me pick them
up again. He also thought it was very funny to take his booties off. He would
wait 'till I turned my head, pull one off and then when I caught him he would
laugh and laugh."

So why is this beautiful child sitting in an orphanage? I can't pretend to grasp the magnitude of pain and suffering in this world. It weighs me down at times. It crushes me at other times. However big the problem is, there is just no way that I can do nothing. How could I live with myself?

As bad as things are for Andrey, things may get worse when he is transferred to a mental asylum. By law, that is where he will go to live at a certain age, sometimes 4 or 5 years. This tiny boy who is losing his ability to even sit up will most certainly be assigned permanently to a crib. A tiny little jail cell for a tiny little inmate. Game over for my little underdog.

If he loses his ability to feed himself or hold a bottle he may be in real danger. Some children are tube fed at the baby houses, but I don't know about the institution. I feel that this precious boy is losing his will to live. He needs a yesterday!

I've tried, and miserably failed, to adequately convey the hopelessness and boredom the children with Down Syndrome and other disabilities suffer in the baby houses and asylums in Eastern Europe. Some things are not easy to put into words. Not simply because they are awful, but because I don't have the frame of reference to fully understand the things I witnessed.

The hopelessness is crushing and the boredom is not leisurely, it's brutal. I was reminded of this after finally reading The Boy from Baby House 10 this week. The book is an amazing true story. The first four chapters left me with my mouth hanging wide open. I could have sworn that the authors had been with me visiting Theo in the room for the "incurables."

Please, won't you help me help Andrey? Before he regresses any further? Before he is transferred to an institution? He absolutely must have a family if he is to survive and reach his potential.

The only thing standing in the way of Andrey finding a family is money. Of course. Children with large adoption grant funds get families sooner. It's just a fact.

In honor of the Underdog Prince Andrey, I'm going to give away my copy of The Boy from Baby House 10. I'll draw names from the chip-in on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st. Names go in the hat once for every $5 gifted. Please consider a tax deductible gift of any size to Andrey's grant fund through the chip-in posted here:

The Boy from Baby House 14

Monday, February 21, 2011

3 more on my heart...

Masha has a family committed to her. And as a bonus, the family has promised to adopt Christopher, too! It has given me such a peace to know that these two little lambs will soon be loved and cherished. I hope that this family contacts me, as I have more photos and videos of Masha. They don't belong to me anymore. :)

Some of my most favorite Reece's Rainbow children have recently been matched with families. Peter for instance! He always reminded my of Ralphie. I showed his photo and description to Ralph's cardio nurse several years ago and she always asks about him. I can't wait to tell her the good news! Peter is reported to be very ill, however. Pray that he can hold on long enough for his family to get him home and get him the medical care that he desperately needs.


There are three more. My special three. I'd like to check them! Families for each!

I often think that if I could just see these three particular children find their place in a loving family that I could let my heart heal a little bit. Maybe then I could let go of the pain that I carry around. Maybe?

1. Mila

I spent a lot of time observing this girl last summer. I tried to get a nice photo but she was always glued to a caregiver and photos were absolutely forbidden. So I had to be content to watch and wonder.

Mila's a good girl. She follows instructions. She helps pick up toys. She's friendly! One day James and I were walking down the driveway of the orphanage after our visiting hours were done when Mila and her nanny were walking back to the building. She must have sensed a unique opportunity because she took my hand and turned to leave with us. ha! I had to gently lead her back to her nanny with a completely broken heart.

Mila is no dummy. She has seen mommies and daddies appear and then disappear with her friends for four long, boring years. She wants a mommy and daddy of her own. She needs them.

2. Andrey S.

I honestly don't care for this photo. His old photo was much nicer. It showed off his blue angel eyes! Here he is stuffed in lacy pink girl jammies. What is it with the girl clothes? Zhen is wearing a pink t-shirt in his immigration photo!

Andrey is one of those children that I can't believe no one has scooped up yet. He really couldn't be any cuter. Lots of Reece's Rainbow children have been adopted from his baby house and no one wanted him?

It is obvious that he is regressing. Without stimulation and therapy he may continue to withdraw. He needs a reason to live. A reason to love. A family would do the trick. I just know it. I just don't know how long he can wait...

3. And I saved the best, most special child for last...drumroll...


Ok, so his eye turns in a bit. Ok, a lot. :(

Try this...cover up one eye with your pinky finger and look how sweet his face is!! Or, if you love him like I do you don't have to cover up anything at all. I imagine that Theo may look a little like Maxim when he is bigger.

What can I tell you about Maxim other than he is special to me. I love him. I want him to have the best possible life. To run and play and be free. He is 6 years old, but he seems quite small.

My friend Melissa had the opportunity to meet and play with Maxim last fall. HERE is what she had to say about him. We are both crazy for him and will work like mad women to help raise money for the family who commits to him. You have our promise in cyber-ink!

So there they are. My special three. (I actually have a top ten list. Does that even surprise you?)

Is there anyone out there who loves them like I do?

Is there anyone out there who has room in their heart for one of these children?

Don't be afraid.

It will be the "best good deed" you will ever do. (hat tip ~ Rob Nalle.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It's been a week.

How many families with glowing reports about her cuteness, intelligence, and personality does it take? Five is not enough?

Even the orphanage speech therapist loves her so much she is willing to let other families play with her and take *GASP!* contraband photographs!! Does this mean nothing?

How much free money for adoption expenses does it take? Is $17,000 is not enough? That kind of money will take you a long way in Masha's country!

Someone make me understand why this child is still waiting for a committed family. We hear it all the time...only money is keeping all the Reece's Rainbow children from loving families. Prove that.

I'm just taking this pretty personally. I love her. I'm not the only one, am I?

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Key - a Call to Prayer

Here is the official word: Masha WILL be transferred to the mental institution. It will likely happen next week.

Oh, my heart.

I have failed her. She's the one.

She is the one child for whom I was bent on finding a home. I was certain that someone would be touched by our story and be inspired to rescue her.

Like Theo was rescued.

There is still a chance for Masha.

And Tori is the key.

Tori, soon to be renamed Reagan, was transferred about a year and a half ago to the same institution that Masha will soon call home.

This coming Monday morning in Eastern Europe there will be a meeting. A very important meeting. An American couple wishes to adopt Tori and has received her referral. They will show up at Tori's institution and meet with the director.

Now, I have heard conflicting reports about this director. Some say the director is difficult and some say the director is agreeable. Some say the director is opposed to adoptions. This director has the power to say "yes" or "no."

We must pray for this director. For a soft heart, for a willing spirit. For Tori is the key. If she can be rescued then there is still a chance...

for Masha,

and Eddie,
who both have grants that could cover their WHOLE adoption! And the countless others who have been and will be sent to this place.

So please pray now. Let us storm heaven for the sake of the inmates (yes, this is what they are called) of Tori's institution.

If you wish to pray during the actual meeting, set your alarms...Monday morning. Early. 1 a.m. - 3 a.m. Central Time, USA, I'm guessing.

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. ~David Platt, Radical

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Please keep sharing...

The past week has been so insane that I have neglected to update properly.

Of course, you know about Masha...she's been on my mind all time. This girl is really something special. I did not advocate for her during the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree season because the focus was on children with Down Syndrome. I felt terrible about that knowing that she would turn four years old in January.

In fact her birthday is the same as my Zhen. Never did I expect this to happen quite so soon, but she is being prepared for her transfer to a mental institution. Imagine plucking a child out of your family and dropping them off at a hospital to live. She will be removed from the only home she has ever known. As dysfunctional and cold as orphanage life is, for all practical purposes, that is her family...her brothers and sisters and mommies.

She is the size of a one year old baby. An easy mark. Who will make sure no one hurts her? Who will make sure no one steals her food? Who will encourage her to walk and talk and learn new things? Will she be afraid? Will she be cold? Will she lose her sparkle?

Knowing that transfer day was possible I started a chip-in fundraiser for her at the beginning of the month. I was supposed to draw winners on my birthday...but...I ended up out of town. I had an opportunity to attend a Down Syndrome conference in Kansas City. I got home late on Saturday and Sunday morning my husband was ushering at church so I had to get nine kids ready to go.

Monday morning was eye appointments for Zhen and Theo at 8am. 8AM!! The news for Zhen was not good. He needs surgery and even then may not regain sight in his bad eye. Tuesday I found out about Masha's imminent transfer and scheduled my 18 year old son for knee surgery the next day. Wednesday was his surgery plus four parent/teacher conferences.

Today was...NOTHING!!! YAY!!

So now I have time to update properly. I decided over the weekend to extend Masha's chip-in fundraiser because I was just so busy and there weren't that many contributors anyway. Now I'm glad that I did. BUT...since a generous benefactor has donated $17,000 to her grant fund, I'll be ending the chip-in and drawing names on Saturday.

God willing, she will have a committed family very soon. Will you continue to share her story so that her family will find her?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wow!! Look what has happened!!

What a day!

I woke to find that Masha had received a $17,000 grant! How very exciting, right? She needs someone to step forward right away. Still praying like CRAZY!

After making breakfast and answering a few emails, I took my 18 year old son to the surgery center to have his knee fixed. Four hours later we headed for home. He was still pretty dopey when we left. He kept telling me how great his girlfriend is and that he really likes her! I've had to repeat his care instructions several times. Too funny!

When I got home it was time to rush out the door for parent/teacher conferences. Four of them. I have great children who are doing awesome in school, by the way.

Home. Dinner. Jammies. Babies to bed. Bath. Ahhhhhh! Time to sit down and update the blog. Oh no!

My computer is nearly dead. It's not charging and I'll have to take it in for fixing. Now I'm self medicating with cheesecake and writing on an iPod so pardon my typos and word choices. This is far from ideal. Haha!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Time. Time for me to beg. One last time.

I wish I had time to write and ponder and edit and muse over what I'm about to say. I'll probably miss a few things and I won't be very eloquent. I don't have time. Time is a luxury.

Time is nearly up.

For Masha.

I got a call from the school district at about 5:30 am today to tell me that school would be cancelled. Do they really think I needed to be woken up on a day that I don't have to GET up so early? Anyway, I took the opportunity to check my email and this is what I found:

"We saw Masha today and were playing peek a boo with her and laughing with her etc. Oh my gosh the doctors from the institution were there to give her a physical for her transfer to the institution."

Days. Days people! She has a few days left at her baby home, the only home she has known. In the dead of winter she will be loaded in a van with the other dear children that are out of precious time and taken away to an even more loveless and hopeless environment.

I think it would be possible to delay this. There are people who might possibly have the influence to delay this. Oh, it's such a long shot that I hate to even write it down!! But, I have to. She's special to me. Ya know? My heart is breaking and I can't stop crying. She needs a family in the next day or so.

If there is one thing I've learned over the years, and trust me I've learned A LOT, it is that things are not always what they seem. Why? Because we are walking by sight and not faith. Masha is not only what you see in her description. She is a living breathing doll. EVERYONE who has seen her and played with her has fallen in love with her. She has something special and not ONE SINGLE fiber of my being believes that she is destined to live out her life in a mental institution.

OK, I'm using a lot of caps, huh? I just don't know how to convey how awesome she is and how devastated I am. Please, I'm begging you to help me help last time. Can you email, tweet, blog, and FB her face and her story? I know she has a family out there.

And don't give me the "you can't save them all" and don't EVEN give me the "maybe it's God's will" crap today.

I will never stop trying to save them all.

And God's desire for orphans is abundantly clear in his Word:

Proverbs 24:11 - Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

James 1:27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I could go on and on...but time's up.

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