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, June 30, 2011

This is the kind of child...

Meet Reagan. This is the kind of child...

...who lives in mental hospitals in Eastern Europe. Bright, intelligent, beautiful. Just like your own children I'll bet.

It's not fair. Reagan was condemned to a life without a family, without love, without comfort because of a medical condition. When her poorly funded invalid home would run out of soap and diapers she undoubtedly went without...well you can probably imagine.

Reagan's story has a happy ending because she was recently adopted by the Burman family. Her adoption was likely the first international adoption to take place from her institution. We'd love to see many more!

But what about the children who are still left behind? The bright and beautiful children? The slow or mentally impaired children, who are every bit as loved by our Creator? Can we simply go on with our busy lives and forget about them? God forbid.

This is where Project TLC comes into play. Your tax deductible gifts to Project TLC will go a long way toward improving the lives of the children at Belogorsk. We pray for loving families for them all, but if that never happens we will have done our best to make their lives more comfortable and meaningful.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pray for Victoria and her sweet family...

The firework stands are open for business in our little town. June is nearly finished. Project TLC has just a few more weeks to raise funds to distribute aid to Belogorsk in July. We are starting so small, but have high hopes. God will provide. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Tonight I would like to turn your attention to sweet Victoria. She was recently adopted from Ukraine and came straight off the airplane to the hospital. You can read more about her family's journey on their blog HERE. She's severely malnourished and dehydrated. Sound familiar?

I don't know if you can imagine the disappointment and difficulty they are going through right now. After having mommy gone for weeks and weeks, she's still not home. Dad HAS to go to work. When I was in Ukraine for 40 days last year, the outpouring of support and love was so amazing that I was afraid to ask for help when I found myself stuck in the hospital with a emaciated and malnourished Theo.

I don't even want them to have to ask for help. Let's show some big love and care to this beautiful family. Check Carrington's BLOG to find out how you can help.

Friday, June 24, 2011


I really got a kick out of Zhen at the zoo this week. The American Farm exhibit made this boy quite nervous. He is suspicious of stuffed animals. Hand puppets horrify him! But, he didn't cry or whine like I would have expected a few months ago. He simply kept his precious toes away from the hungry sheep in the petting area.

I often wonder what his life would have been like after transfer to a mental hospital or "invalid" home as they are sometimes called. I doubt if a trip to the zoo would have been on his itinerary.

Then I happened upon an article from a Ukrainian charity's website. Read this account detailing a zoo field trip for some residents of a Ukrainian invalid home.

This is just the sort of enriching experience I wish for the disabled children of Crimea. A zoo field trip is going on the Project TLC bucket list.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Field trip!

Theo and Zhen have been to the zoo before, but they haven't really experienced it yet. Yesterday the weather was so nice that we just had to make time to visit the zoo again. This time the boys had a more meaningful experience.

Theo was excited by the sheep! She how his legs are sticking straight out? And toes pointed? That is classic "excited Theo" posture.

Zhen was not too sure about the sheep. I can just imagine what thoughts might be running through his head.

"Oh no! Too close. What the heck is that fluffy thing?"

Theo was overstimulated after visiting the farm animals so our visit was short. He just couldn't stop fussing and crying. It always makes my heart ache when I can't figure out what he wants.

On a more positive note, Theo watched me making his bottle of Pediasure today and started clapping his hands. He may be quite delayed but he keeps making progress and showing new skills. I don't always give him enough credit.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Theo hurts.

Theo tried some new things today! He's really grown so much!

We must have spent an hour in the bounce house! He loved being jiggled! He crawled around and looked out the windows. Precious!

He's doing so well. So much better than I imagined when I met him. And yet, he struggles. We struggle. I don't talk about it much. I don't even really think about it much because I'm so in love with him.

It's nearly midnight here and Theo has just now settled down to sleep. He had a difficult time tonight, like many nights. He flips and flops and cries out. My mommy instincts tell me that he is in pain. Is it reflux? Is it growing pains? Is it fear?

He can't tell me. And that breaks my heart.

I don't know why I wanted to share this tonight. Perhaps I'm frustrated with all the romance surrounding adoption. It's all warm and fuzzy and lovey when you are striving to accomplish the adoption. Then reality hits you.

And I haven't even touched on Zhen's issues. I want to be real with you, so I'm pledging not to sugar-coat our experience. So many families are not properly prepared for the realities of post-institutional children. It's work. Hard work. It's heartbreak. But, honestly...I believe...

it's worth it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Check out this beautiful ministry video for Project TLC:

I'm so pleased with the way Project TLC is falling into place. We have an amazing leadership team and amazing supporters. I cannot wait until we have some success stories to share with you.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What a darling little baby! Look how peaceful and serene he appears. I'll bet that his momma would have really enjoyed him. If only...

I ofter contemplate Zhen's birth mother and father. As a nurse married to a port worker, they strike me as solidly middle class, or as middle class as you would likely find in Ukraine. Both parents with solid, well paying, skilled jobs.

I'm certain that Zhen was a "wanted" baby. What a tragedy for him to lie in an orphanage crib uncuddled, unkissed and unloved. Just being, existing, living in an orphanage is detrimental to a baby's development. When you add Down Syndrome to the equation, the problems are compounded. It is a tragedy.

But, it is also a tragedy for his birth mother, father and brother. They are also victims. Their dreams crushed by a society that doesn't value individuals with any sort of differences. I want to remember to have compassion for them. I want to remember to have compassion for the other parents who were compelled to give up or even abort their babies to satisfy their societal norms...all over the world.

Look at the beauty they are missing.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Once upon a time, in a faraway land...

Once upon a time, in the faraway land of our cold war enemies, a baby boy was born on the second day of June. In a city by the sea, this baby boy entered a mean world. A society which would make no accommodation for him. A society which would not accept him.

His young mother, a full twenty years younger than her husband, in her distress, fled. She ran away from the maternity hospital, as if she could escape from the reality of her son's apparent imperfections.

You see, the little baby boy was born with 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46. This little microscopic addition to every cell in his body sealed his fate. No mommy. No daddy. He would serve time in a lonely crib, to pay for the crime of being born with Down Syndrome.

I cannot tell you about his so-called life for the next four years. Those years remain a mystery except for one thing. A woman, an angel to me, visited this little boy's orphanage grouppa in 2008. The little boy caught her eye with his big beautiful melancholy eyes. She took his picture. She made a little video. She left.

By and by, I saw this photo.
His sad eyes spoke to my soul. I recognized him as my son. Today that little boy is officially my son. He is officially a U.S. citizen. He is writing a new life story. Ten months after arriving home...
barely escaping the faraway land with his precious life... son, the little boy with the sad eyes, is five years old. Happy Birthday dear Theodore. And many, many more.

Many more trips to the zoo.

Many more swings.

I'm so glad you are mine.


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