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!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just you wait and see.

Today I'm grateful. And I'm angry. How is that possible?

I'm grateful to live in the United States of America. What an exceptional place! I never knew how wonderful it was until I got a look at some other places. For one thing, I'm grateful that we have the finest of medical care available.

Theo and Zhen, my two children adopted from Ukraine, were in the hospital this week. Theo was in shock on Sunday for an infection that had escaped attention too long. Zhen had outpatient surgery today for a congenital cataract. Both are doing great! I'm so pleased!

Yes, there were some inefficiencies and staffing issues with the hospital. However, on the whole both boys received great care. Theo's bloodwork showed liver and kidney damage on Sunday. I shudder to think what would have happened to him if he was living in the institution when he got sick. He might not have had a happy ending.

And Zhen would have NEVER had his eye surgery in his birth country. What for? That is the attitude. Why fix his eye? He is an invalid, he will never read or do anything.

So wrong.

The so-called invalid is presently experimenting with ways to get the tape off of his face. His tongue is nearly long enough to do the job!

So I'm angry, too. The surgery that Zhen had today to remove a congenital cataract, is generally done when a child is very young. It is done early so that the brain can develop normal vision. We do not know if Zhen will ever be able to see out of the eye that was fixed today. No guarantees at all.

He will have his good eye patched for 6 hours a day for the next 5-6 years. Yes, I said years. All to force his brain to use the previously unusable eye. How do you think he will tolerate this?

This aggravation could have been completely avoided if he had surgery as a baby. But in Ukraine, children with Down Syndrome and other differences are not receiving even the simplest of necessary medical procedures. If they live, they live. If they die they die. If they develop, great. If not, who cares?

So I'm angry.

And I'm going to do something about it. Just wait.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Update from TLOT

Will you join me in support of The Least of These? Here is a quick update from the director:


The matching funds are coming in VERY slowly!!!! We still need almost $18,000 to meet the matching grant. The first camp starts June 6th in Kerch. It will be the most expensive. Our budget for that camp is about $23,000. Our second camp has a budget of $9,000. The outreaches in Simferopol and Belogorsk should cost about $5,000.

We are trusting God that He will provide. I also believe He will and does use people like yourself to HELP!!!!

Summer 2011

June 6th -15th Camp Hope
June 16th ­ 18th Kid's crusade Kerch
June 19th Church at Pastor Homenko
June 20th - 22nd Camp preparation at River of Joy
June 23rd ­- July 2nd Camp at River of Joy
July 3rd Church
July 4th - 6th Take break
July 7th -22nd Outreaches in Simferopol and Belogorsk

God bless you for your help.

Now, you could potentially adopt a child for $20,000, and that's a great thing! But think of the hundreds of lives that could be changed this summer through the efforts of The Least of These. To donate you can click the Paypal link on their website here, or you can mail gifts to:

The Least of These
914 SW Coast Hwy, Suite 101
Newport, OR 97365

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Least of These

Adoption was a fantastic opportunity for our boys, Zhen and Theodore. Without a doubt, they would not have had access to the medical care they needed so desperately. They would not have had access to the top notch education that they are enjoying. Good for them right?

But what about the children that we left behind? The ones who are forgotten, overlooked, or lost. The ones who are too old to adopt, too rough around the edges, or too much trouble. Who is going to care for these children? Who is going to tell them about Jesus?

While I believe in adoption with all my heart, the truth is that most of these children will never be adopted. The church has not yet awakened. We're working on that, right? So in the immortal words of Mr. Rogers, let's think of something to do while we're waiting. (The link to Mr. Rogers is for you, Jessica)

I'm going to share a couple of groups that are caring for these children. Tonight I'll start with The Least of These. They are ministering to the lost and forgotten children in the poorest of regions in Ukraine. They are working in the preschools, the internats, the sanatoriums and the invalid homes to reach people for Christ.

The Least of These is providing hundreds of needy and hurting children the opportunity to attend a completely Christian camp this summer. Just think about the many lost souls that will find their salvation at camp this summer! They will be adopted into an eternal family. What could compare to that?

Are you able to go? Team members are needed for the summer outreach in June.

Are you able to give? Funds are needed to operate Camp Hope in Kerch, the town where Theo was born. Gifts to The Least of These are tax deductible as allowed by law and are currently being matched dollar for dollar.

Are you able to pray? Please hold the volunteers and staff of The Least of These up in your prayers as they continue to reach out to the children and youth of Ukraine. Pray also that their current needs may be met. And check out the album of outreaches and testimonies dating back to 2003.

I hope that you will remember the ones we left behind by prayerfully supporting The Least of These.

My Easter horror story.

Here is the view from where I'm sitting right right now.

Crazy huh? Theo became very sick yesterday. Scary sick.

He had been running fevers off and on for a couple of days. A dose of ibuprofen and he would be good to go for the rest of the day...sometimes well into the night! Yesterday was different.

James and I were at church for all three services so grandma sat at home with Theo for us. When we got home, she told us that he had slept until 11am and then didn't want to eat when he got up. She was rocking him when I walked in. He looked odd, but I couldn't put my finger on what was different.

There was no time to get an Easter dinner on the table in time for our hungry crew, so we went ahead and took Theo and the rest of the kids out for Chinese! Nice Easter dinner, huh?

I held Theo for a while and he was heavy and floppy in my arms. But, when he saw my plate of food he sprang to life just long enough to grab some mushroom beef and stuff it in his mouth! I decided to put him into a highchair so that I could sit less than three feet away from the table to eat.

Theo kept slumping over sideways in the highchair. I would straighten him out and he's start crumpling over again. Occasionally his eyes would roll back. He didn't look good at all. Not only did he not look good, he looked different in a way that I couldn't quite figure out. His face. Hmmm.

He was so limp in my arms when I lifted him out of the highchair to go home that I asked James if we should take him to the doctor. He was breathing strange, too...a couple of regular breaths and then he would stop...and then come up for air a few seconds later. Why does stuff like this always happen on a weekend?

As soon as we got the crew back home, I put a call into our doctor's nurse line. She recommended that I take him to be seen. So I put Theo into a nicer, cleaner pair of jammies and headed out to the minor emergency office, all the while wondering what they would think of this 24 pound almost-five year old child with Down Syndrome.

Can you guess? Yep, the minor emergency office was closed for Easter. Dang. I would have to go to the hospital ER and pay a $200 co-pay. Ouch, right? But, for Theo it's nothing. :) The cool thing was that the ER was dead and we got right in. I was acquainted with the ER physician, that was also nice.

Looking at Theo lying on the big white cot I suddenly noticed the delicate line of his jawbone. He looked different.

He was hooked up to an O2 sat monitor and I was shocked to see him in the upper 80's. Not cool. I asked the nurse to start him on oxygen right away. She agreed with me. I went to the waiting area while they started an IV, drew blood and did a chest x-ray. I've seen enough medical procedures and I don't have anything left to prove. I can't stand to see him hurting. As it turned out, one of the blood samples clotted too quickly and had to be redrawn. I stayed in the room this time and he only grunted a bit while the vampire rooted around for a vein. Poor sweetie.

This is getting long, but I don't want to forget these things. After Theo's IV was started and he had a couple bags of fluid pumped into him he started to perk up. Then it dawned on me...his face. It was pink and plump again. I could no longer see the obvious line of his jawbone. That bony jaw was looked like it did when we brought him home in emaciated condition.

Theo weighed 22 pounds yesterday at the ER. He was 25 pounds in Kansas City two weeks ago. That just goes to show how fast a little guy like Theo can go downhill. He was in shock when we arrived at the ER. I'm more frightened now than I was at that moment, now that I understand what I was seeing and couldn't process.

Here's the best news of the day, and I firmly believe it is because of all the prayers on his behalf: Theo is doing great!!

He's been moved out of ICU to the pediatric floor. He's not hooked up to a bazillion monitors and oxygen anymore. He's just been snoozing hard. God willing, his bloodwork improves some more tomorrow and we can go home in the afternoon. Please let it be so!!

Look at my peaceful little angel.

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. I love you. Yeah, you.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New chapters, new books.

I'm quite happy to report that Carrington Burman is home with her family. She is beginning a whole new chapter!!

I've talked with fellow adoptive moms about kids like Carrington, Yana, and Theo, and I've come to the conclusion that no one has written a book about our kids. What they will and will not do, what they can and can not be expected to do...all of that is unknown. No book about Down Syndrome, no book about adoption, no book about orphans, no book is really relevant. We are writing it as we live it.

What we do know is that we are blessed with amazingly resilient children. How they survived their years of neglect is a mystery to me. They amaze me.

And we also know that these children are part of an elite club. The lucky few. They were adopted.

Of the more than 100,000 orphans in Ukraine alone, somewhere around 2000 were adopted last year. Less than 2%. And you can bet that only a fraction of the children who were adopted had significant special needs.

So as we witness the turning of a page and the beginning of a fresh new chapter in the life of Carrington, we must not forget the children who are left behind. As we continue to write the Book of Theo we can't forget that we are also contributing to the stories of all the other lives that we touch.

Most of the children left behind will never know the love of a mommy and daddy. In the days and weeks to come, I'll be sharing with you new ways to help these friends of Theo and Carrington. This is going to be a real page turner!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

***Ukraine Adoption Notice***

I just received this information from Orphan Justice Center:

On the evening of April 7, 2011, President Yanukovych signed a Decree transferring all functions of, the State Department for Adoption and Protection of the Rights of the Child (SDA– the current central adoption authority of Ukraine), to the Ministry for Social Policy. We do not yet know how the implementation of this transfer will affect processing of adoption cases. Whether SDA will be able to continue processing currently filed cases remains unclear.
The Presidential Decree will become effective immediately upon its publication in the Government’s official newspapers, which may be as early as Monday, April 11.

According to SDA, there are now 134 U.S. families registered with the SDA, some of them already in-country. We are asking all American families that are currently in Ukraine or have appointments with SDA during the next few weeks to send their contact information to the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine’s Adoption Unit at: Families should contact their local adoption service provider for further updates and details.

We will keep monitoring the situation and will provide updates as they become available.
Disabled persons in Eastern Europe are not valued. Their situation is and has been dire for many decades. For many of the children, their only hope of reaching their potential and for a good life is international adoption.

Adoption is not enough. But it is a start. We hope to affect cultural change by demonstrating the value of differently abled persons. That is why we beg and borrow, skimp and save.

Let us pray that this development does not adversely affect the many families in the midst of adopting from Ukraine. Let us pray that it turns out to be a positive step in the right direction.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Two Princesses

I don't have any new information about Carrington that you can't find on HER BLOG. But I do have a new photo of the little princess in the arms of her beautiful sister! It appears that the littlest princess is feeling so much better that she has experimented with being naughty! hahahhaha! Those are no-nos on her arms. They are arm restraints that keep her from being able to reach her face and yank out any tubes. You go Carrington! Give 'em heck!! Show 'em what you are made of!! Tough stuff, that's for sure.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


This was a great weekend for Theo. Oh my stars! He's so fun. And every single day he gets more fun! How can it be? He started moving forward in his walker on Saturday. He wants to be a big boy. He wants to GO places!

Theo is strong enough to stand with help balancing; however, he has never indicated that he understands he needs to move his feet to go anywhere. Sometimes I will ask one of the kids to help him balance while I move each leg as if he is walking.

For Ralphie we hung him in a harness over a treadmill! Same idea. But Theo's feet always remain stuck to the ground when I'm working with him.

Then on Saturday night when I was preparing to put him in the bathtub with Zhen and Ruby, he got so excited! He started freaking out while I was removing his clothing. When I stood him up he actually started moving his feet as if he would run to get in the tub. And I do mean RUN! WoW!!

He is a HOOT in the tub. He is so talented at splashing that I'm drenched and the bathroom floor is flooded in a matter of minutes! It's just pure joy!

Today I needed to stop by the pre-school to pick up some paperwork. As I opened the door I saw my little love in the hallway...

standing in a gait trainer...


Walking is not even in Theo's IEP. It has been pushed pretty far into the back of my mind. But it just goes to show the kind of healing and progress can be made by even the sickest, most neglected child. He is smashing my expectations every single day.

Which reminds me of Carrington. She's up a couple of pounds since coming home last month. Her bubbly personality is making an appearance! Her doctors want to do a few more tests before they schedule her surgery for reflux. They are also trying to coordinate things to get her poor ruined teeth taken care of at the same time.

I'll wager that Carrington will smash all of our expectations as well. In addition to her physical and emotional restoration, she is inspiring people to go beyond, to do more, pray more and love better. I hope to have some specific stories to share with you soon. And photos of course! :)

Hi Reagan!

I've been quite down lately and I don't feel like I have much of value to contribute. I don't like to be cryptic so even thought there is lots going on, it's just easier not to share. But here is something I can feel good about sharing with you!

I still feel like thanking everyone who prayed and contributed toward bringing this girl home. Remember Tori? She's officially called Reagan now and just look at that smile!! Reagan loves to talk, talk, talk! Her biggest brother doesn't always appreciate that and he will hold up his hand and say, "girrrrr-ll!!" Like, girl give me a break! haha! And she is so very bright. Her new mommy has her doing some worksheets already.

Reagan's little sister, Carrington, is doing OK. She's gained a little weight but is still battling reflux. I expect to hear more about her possible scheduled surgeries sometime tomorrow. If you are not already keeping up with Carrington's blog you can find it HERE.

When I think about Carrington and Theo and Hailee and some of the other really tiny and neglected children that have come home from Eastern Europe over the past year or so, I can't help but wonder how many other children are wasting away...waiting. I can't help but think about how unlikely it was that these particular children were plucked out of that existence. I could never have imagined these events. I always thought that adoption was for rich people! It almost seems like a fluke.

But, it wasn't a fluke. It was a response to our own redemption. We were adopted into the family of God when we accepted Christ. It's a beautiful thing.

I want it for you.

And the children we had to leave behind?

I want it for them.

There are more Carringtons, and Theos, and Hailees. They are laying in lonely cribs right now and they don't even know what they are missing.

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