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!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Oh dear. Where to even start.

I've been on the run, with my children home for spring break and road trips and sleepovers. So, I feel like I'm really falling behind. There is so much that I need to share and pray for...where do I even start?

Carrington is doing great! She's been in the USA for a week now, and in the hospital for a week now, too. She gained a little weight and lost some which is not completely unexpected. It seems that her little body doesn't really know what to do with the nourishment that it is getting.

How can this be? Unless...

We really don't know how and what the doctors and caregivers were caring for her at the orphanage. It's entirely possible that she was only getting one meal a day. It's possible that with her severe reflux that it was all coming meal a day or more.

But then again...we know of more than one, or two, or three children who have come out of this particular place in bad shape. It's difficult to make sense of it. I knew that Carrington was ignored but I never expected to see her in such awful shape.

I was just made aware of a newly listed child in this orphanage. She is in the grouppa for the most severely ill children. It's a good bet that she's in her crib 24/7. She's probably never been outside. It gives me chills to think. More about her later.

And then there is Kiril, who was denied a family by a prosecutor and judge in Eastern Europe this week. You can read more HERE. I'm so heartbroken for his sweet family who has faithfully jumped through hoop after hoop and spent tens of thousands of dollars to bring him into their family.

Please pray for Kiril and his family, that their appeal would be successful and they would be reunited soon. Pray for the other families adopting children with Down Syndrome in the same region who will be facing the same judge soon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thanks all!!

Thank you and more big smooches to everyone who participated in Andrey's chip-in event here. We raised a fantastic $460 for his grant fund! My fundraising goal is ALWAYS $20,000 for an adoption grant fundraiser, even if I'm only giving away a book or some other small prize.


Well, that is the amount of money that it would take for him to be considered "fully funded," meaning that his family would have most of their expenses covered. That's what I want for his family...the peace of mind that comes from not having to worry about whether you'll have all the funds in place when it comes time to travel.

I just randomized my list of entries and then chose a random number. The winner of The Boy from Baby House 10 is....
Wendy G. has an interesting connection to Andrey. Here is a note she left for me on the chip-in site:

Hi Stephanie, This is Wendy (Andrea G.'s mom) here and I want to thank you for
your dedication to special needs orphans and for loving this little guy enough
to do something about rescuing him. He became so special to Andrea while she was
in Ukraine and as a result, special to me as well. God bless.

Thanks again!

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Carrington.

I didn't get to talk to Shelly about Carrington today, but I did send her the first set of grocery/restaurant gift cards from the chip-in. Awesome! I love how we pull together when one of us needs some help!

If you look to the right you will notice that Carrington has a button to take you to her very own blog. You can get regular updates there in case I fall behind here.

Carrington is finally tolerating some feeds. Only 10cc per hour, but it's way better than what she's had for a long while. She did lose half a pound since she was admitted, but didn't lose any more last night. She didn't gain either, but not losing is still a really big deal at this point.

Please continue to pray for the family. I can tell you from personal experience how difficult it is to finally get your child out of institutional care only to find them right back in institutional care, however much nicer it is. It's time for them to be together as a family, adjusting to their new normal, getting to know each other, but no. That's the goal and it's just out of reach. Frustrating.

SMOOCHES!!! Last Day!!

Big sloppy smooches from Andrey and me!!

Thank you for your generous gifts to Andrey's adoption grant fund. I love you all and your heart, but you know what gets me? It's those $5 donations. They almost bring me to tears sometimes because I always imagine that $5 is really ALL they could do, and it's not much but they did it anyway...ya know?

And then some of those gifts are from folks who are desperately raising funds to rescue their own children. May God bless you and take your gifts and multiply them like the loaves and fishes!!

This is the last day for this chip-in for Andrey. I'll end it at midnight central time tonight. Then I'll draw a name for the hardcover copy of The Boy from Baby House 10 that I'm giving away.

Maybe next time I'll give away something really exciting. You KNOW there will be a next time, right?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Carrington says "Hello!"

Carrington says "Hello!"

"Thank you for praying for me. I'm much more comfortable and relaxed today than I have been in a very long time. My mommy is even feeling more settled. Please keep praying for us both."

Miss Carrington is a total princess. Isn't she beautiful? Here she is in her swing, which she LOVES. She's blown through a set of batteries already! She's been sleeping a lot, too. Which is probably good, right? Do you think she knows that she has finally made it home? Where she is loved? And cared for? And now she can let her guard down a bit?

I think so.

I'm sending out some gift cards to Shelly tonight. I'll continue to send them as long as folks want to contribute. When your child is in the hospital, the last thing you need to think about is what to make for dinner, right?

More updates tomorrow...

Look who it is!

Look! It is Andrey! He's the little boy with his hand in his mouth standing at the rail. And watch for him to pull his bootie off at the end. CUTENESS!

Oh, he's just as precious as I imagined from his pictures! And he can stand! Isn't that fantastic news?!

One more day for Andrey's chip-in. Please, someone save this child now.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Support a hurting family...

OK, I've heard from enough people that want to help so here it is:

I know from experience how difficult it can be to care for a family while running back and forth from the hospital. And I know how hard it can be to ask for help after being on the receiving end for a time.

If you have any other specific ideas to help Carrington's family, please share them with me in the comment section. I'm open to suggestions!

Not out of the woods...yet.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for Carrington. You saw the photos so you know she is in really terrible shape. After talking to her new mommy today, it sounds even worse than even I expected.

She is getting the best available medical care in a large, big city hospital. And has been for a few days now, but she is not out of the woods yet.

Here are a few of the facts:

1. Carrington weighs only 11 lbs at age 3 1/2.
2. Her echo cardiogram showed no defects BUT but they couldn't complete the test because she is too emaciated.
3. She does not have HIV, but still waiting on some other tests including an MRI.
4. NG tube feedings were started but Carrington started to reflux at 11cc per hour so those feeds have been stopped for now. (11cc is less than half an ounce)
5. She has been sleeping finally, 16 hours straight at one time!
6. Though her hips are not dislocated, something about them is not right so an ortho consult is in the works.

The doctors say that Carrington has been slowly dying. The can't even do surgery to help her reflux because she would not survive it.

This girl was in the same room as Zhen last summer. There are other smaller than average children in there, but no others in that same sort of awful condition. Not that I know of anyway. Most of the children in that particular room are quite chubby and healthy, like Anna and Zhen. It doesn't make any sense.

I noticed her last summer...slumped over in a high chair when I arrived to pick Zhen up for our visit. When I brought him back over an hour later she was in the very same position. No one could even be bothered to straighten her out? I was so relieved when her family committed to her. I was just sure that she was pretty much always ignored.

I could say more. Later perhaps.

Please remember Carrington's mommy. She's completely frazzled after an emotionally charged two month long adoption journey. She missed her children at home terribly. She has been stressed and sick and at the end of her rope.

I know EXACTLY how she feels. She's home but she's not home. Her daughter was rescued from one institution but now she's stuck in another institution. And after being on the receiving end of so much support over the past few months it is impossible to ask for even more help. Come back tomorrow - I hope to share a few ways you can help, if you are so moved.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Update on Carrington

Sarah has an update on Carrington HERE.

Carrington is very fragile right now. It's a complete miracle that she made it home alive.

Carrington in February 2010. Note the layered, fluffy pajamas. :(

Reintroducing proper nutrition to a child in her condition can be very dangerous. Her blood chemistry is likely out of whack. Please pray that her body responds to treatment.

This is why I will not stop screaming and begging for you to pay attention to this orphan crisis. It's a continuous emergency. I will not rest...

I know it's not an IPad...

Hey all! Andrey's chip-in ends on Monday! Wow! Where did March go?! I'm actually still wondering what happened to January, *grin*

I just can't get this little cutie off of my mind. He looks like pure love to me. My children say he looks a lot like Theo.

There are a lot of really needy children right now. And there are a lot of needy families right now. I just want to encourage you to chip-in a 5-spot for Andrey. Think of it as a couple of loaves of bread, or a bucket of ice cream, or a bag of oranges or anything else you can buy for $5.

If you can't toss in a few presidents, would you please pray that a family would rescue him ASAP? He's going to be a huge blessing to them. HUGE.

I know I'm not giving away an IPad or anything fabulous like that...I'm just doing what I can at this moment in time. And I'm asking you to do the same for Andrey or whoever else captures your heart. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Under the fluffy pajamas...

Look at those beautiful chubby cheeks! Isn't she a total doll? She's almost 4 years old.

And those luscious, chocolaty brown eyes? How could you not love this sweet child?

But, appearances can be deceiving. What you see is not always what you get. This little jewel was lost and starving, abused and neglected, like so many other children around the world. She was the very least of the very least. The bottom of the barrel.

Despised (sound familiar?) by those who were charged with caring for her.

But then...

...she was rescued.

Thank God that Carrington was rescued! She now has a name and a family to call her own. And someone to love and tenderly care for her for the rest of her sweet life.

But the cute cheeks and the fluffy pajamas were hiding the terrible truth. Carrington is in very bad shape.

We don't' really want to know the truth, do we? We would really rather not know some things at all. You know, the whole "ignorance is bliss" thing, and all.

We really must confront this, though. This does not have to happen to any child. Anywhere. Still, I'm encouraged, because Carrington is on a plane right now headed for her new home America. PRAY for her and her mommy as they make their way home today...and then straight to the hospital. I look forward to sharing her physical and emotional restoration with you.

Let me suggest that if this reality makes you feel uncomfortable...

...or guilty

...or tearful

...or angry

then perhaps God is calling you to do more than sit on the sidelines.

You men. When are you going to stop responding to these children like a sissy? Let your manly heart be broken and then put on your full armor and fight for them! This is one of God's precious, beloved children and if her condition breaks HIS heart then it had better break yours.

And you ladies. Are you so comfortable in your perfect, orderly world, enjoying your blessings and luxuries that you are unwilling let go of any one of them?

And you churches. Are you addressing the orphan crisis? Are you equipping families to adopt? To foster? Are you regularly sending mission teams to orphanages? And why not? Isn't adoption one of the central themes of the gospel of salvation?

Let me encourage you all to get in the game! Pray-give-go!

Pray - pray for the children, for their hearts and minds and bodies to be preserved and protected. Pray for families, that they would be courageous to keep and raise their children, no matter what their imperfections may be. Pray for the families that God has called to rescue the abandoned children, that they would hear the call and follow with conviction. And there is so much more to pray for, isn't there?

Give - financially assist an adopting family or give to a waiting child's grant fund. Give your time. Babysit for an adoptive family. Hold a fundraiser for them. Clean out junk from your closets and donate to their garage sale.

Go - go adopt a child and give them a chance to reach their true potential. Go visit an orphanage. Many churches and organizations offer short term mission trips to orphanages around the world.

Just go.

Just give.

Just pray.

Just do it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I was never a HUGE fan of his:

But there is a new rock star in my life. I love, love, LOVE this guy!

Theo's hair is getting to be ridiculous, I know. But, knowing that he lived 4 years with a shaved head, I cannot bring myself to cut it.

In the US, we spend a collective $19 billion on hair care services each year.! We must really care about good hair. It feels good to shake it. It feels good to run your fingers through it. It frames our faces, reflects our style, and helps make us uniquely identifiable.
In Theo's baby house all the disabled children have their heads shaved regularly. Year round. Girls and boys alike. I'm sure there may be practical reasons for this, but is dehumanizing and demeaning. You can actually tell which children are favored by the caregivers because they may have a little fringe of hair left untouched by the shears. It is as if, somehow, these imperfect creatures deserve to be stripped of this little piece of identity.
I've been thinking about suffering and what a universal experience it is. There are suffering, hungry, abandoned children all over the world. What is it about the disabled orphans of Eastern Europe that has so captured my heart?
Could it be that these children are set apart, hidden away, abused, neglected, and stripped of their humanity because of the very way that God made them? What a slap in the face to our Lord. What an impoverished mindset.
I'm going to let Theo's hair grow as a form of protest against that mindset that would have kept him stripped of his humanity and identity for the rest of his life.
And because he is a rock star!
PS - don't forget Andrey. His fundraiser ends on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21st. See the chip-in at the top of the page.

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