Luck for the Luckless

I dare to believe that the luckless will get lucky someday in You.  You won’t let them down: orphans won’t be orphans forever.  Psalm 10:14b (the Message)

Those of you who knew me before I began blogging over here at Blogging Barefoot might remember that about this time last year, I started advocating for a sweet little HIV+ orphan named Annabell.  Oh my goodness, she had the chubbiest cheeks and sweetest little smile you could imagine.

I can’t believe a year has gone by.

Last summer Annabell disappeared – that is to say, the country she lives in determined her ineligible for international adoption.  She was ‘too healthy’ to make the short list of physical ailments allowed by her country to be adopted by a foreigner.  At least until she turned five, at which point she would be old enough to be considered undesirable for adoption within her country.  The irony of that is the fact that because she’s HIV+, she’s already ‘undesirable’.  The stigma associated with HIV in her country will most likely damn her to a life in an orphanage unless a foreign family chooses to adopt her.  And since the older a child gets, the less likely they’ll be adopted, that’s an option her country all but took away from her last summer.

I was unprepared for how hard that would hit me.  I cried a lot.  Not just for her, but for the many (and we’re talking thousands – including her little brother, who I’ve never been able to find much information on) of kids like her.  Unwanted children with special needs of every imaginable kind lost in the bureaucratic red tape of their countries, never to know the love and warmth and security of a family all their own.

There’s no adequate term for how simply wrong that is.

I’ve wondered for awhile what my role in helping these precious ones could be.  After Annabell disappeared, it was hard to want to commit to helping any specific child at all…to get attached, only to have any real way of helping them be yanked from my grasp at any moment.  It felt like setting myself up for failure; opening my heart to guaranteed heartbreak.  If that sounds weak to you, it’s because it is.  Believe me, I’m well aware that in comparison, any heartbreak I might feel in the process of helping these helpless ones is minuscule in comparison to the largely loveless life they lead.  But I don’t think it’ll do anybody a lick of good if I try to lie and pretend that I’m some kind of strong warrior on behalf of the Orphan.  Because I’m not.  I’m weak, and I’m selfish.  And let’s be honest – I’m a tiny little fish swimming in a ridiculously giant ocean.  My voice, though louder than the voiceless, is still a soft, timid whisper in the noisy din of the world around me.

When I found out I was pregnant with Little Miss Took, I had all kinds of conflicting emotions.  Overwhelming joy at the thought of another Shafer bundle arriving in less than a year…and overwhelming guilt at the thought of all the sweet lovies waiting in desperate situations for a home, when my own home was healthy and flourishing.  It was a crisis of faith that I didn’t expect, and it took me a while to really claim the beliefs I’ve stated to myself and others time and time again:

Each child is created with intention and purpose – whether or not their parents planned their birth, and whether or not they’re born without what the world deems as ‘defects’.

Each child deserves the right to be born and thrive.

Each child ought to be welcomed home into the arms of a loving family – whether through genetics, or adoption, or whatever.  Every child deserves a family that will love them and protect them.

There are no exceptions to this.  Each and every child is precious, priceless.

And that includes my child, born into a loving home in a prosperous country.

So, I took several months off from advocating at all.  I needed to let the truth of those statements sink in for me and my family.  I needed to be okay with bringing another child into a world where there are still so many sitting, laying, waiting, without hope, in situations so devastatingly horrific most of us honestly can’t fathom.  I know I sure can’t.

But now that Little Miss Took is nearly here, I’m feeling the pull again – to do something, no matter how small, to help be a voice for the voiceless.  I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to look yet.  Probably just a post here and there to start.

But for now, I’d like to direct you to a place called Reece’s Rainbow.  They are a fantastic organization that has dedicated themselves to helping special-needs orphans find their families.  Please, look through the waiting lists.  The pictures aren’t always easy to see.  For many of these kids – especially the older ones – time is running out.  Once they age out of their country’s system, they become ineligible for adoption, domestic or foreign, and put into ‘institutions’ – the equivalent of mental asylums – where they’ll be confined the rest of their lives, never knowing the love of a mom or dad or siblings or grandparents or aunts or uncles.  To say it’s a bleak reality would be putting it kindly…and it’s one that’s easier to ignore than to face.

I don’t really have a goal in mind with this post, other than to open a window to a world many of us simply don’t know exists.  I heard someone once say (with their tongue firmly planted in their cheek) that poverty doesn’t exist if you don’t see it.  All of us know that’s not true; but it’s easy for so many of us to live like it is because it’s not in our face, staring us down.  The same is true for so many of us when it comes special needs orphans.  It’s not something that’s often put in front of us for us to see…

…and so we live as if they don’t exist.

I hope you’ll take the time to stop by Reece’s Rainbow and let the precious faces you’ll see there open your minds and hearts a little.

Lots of love,

Myndi

23 thoughts on “Luck for the Luckless

  1. I wanted to adopt that tongue-in-cheek comment that “it doesn’t exist if I don’t look.” I didn’t want to start my morning with heart-wrenching pictures.

    Your words had already wrenched my heart.

    I had to brace myself to take the leap (in this case, link), and was SO glad to see there are a plethora of options to help this worthy cause. My pal, Pay, and I hopped on board. Turns out, I don’t need a new pair of shoes this month after all.

    Bonus. I can add prayers for free.

    Nest. Rest. And, get ready for your new baby. You have such a big heart. Your children are blessed to have a rocking, loving, caring Mama.

    • I felt that way the first time I went to their website, too. It took repeated prompting from someone I was following on Twitter to get up the courage – ’cause once you SEE it, how can you not care, you know? Thanks for sharing your resources with these little ones, and you’re totally right – prayers are free, and POWERFUL. *hugs*

  2. I am humbled by people like you. Children like this break my heart – everything like this breaks my heart, I even cry over the stupid ASPCA ads. Everyone deserves love, especially children, and though your voice may be tiny, at least you speak up for them. If more of us did we would no doubt have a better world for it.

    Thanks.

  3. Myndi, you have a beautiful heart and I am certain that your new daughter will have the same beautiful heart and will grow up to make the world a better place.

    I wrote a long entry about the heartbreaking pictures at Reece’s Rainbow and WordPress ate it, so I will just sum it up by saying that I will be praying for those precious babies, and I’ve added them to the list I keep that my husband and I use when we are able to pull together a little money to give.

  4. Very powerful post, Myndi. I can feel your heart aching, which validates how wonderful you are. I follow the No Greater Joy blog (found her through you) and I pray constantly for these voiceless children. It’s such a constant test of faith to try and understand why some kids are so ‘unlucky’ and accept that everything happens for a reason.

    Thank you for the links that will give people information on how they can help since there are many ways! I love what Gloria said above, we can offer prayers for free.

    • Absolutely. Prayers are free, and POWERFUL. And a few quiet voices gathering together can turn into something loud and un-ignorable. I love how God can take little things and make them mighty.

      No Greater Joy Mom is one of the most gut-wrenchingly beautiful blogs I’ve come across. She and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, but her heart for orphans is astounding.

  5. You wrote this post with so much heart it was as if you were sitting right here with me where I could see you holding a tissue in your hand and a look on your face that shows the world what a wonderful person you are.
    Little Miss Took is very lucky to be coming into such a loving family. I’m sure she is going to be a giving individual with the determination to do what she can to make the world a better place. Just like her momma does. ;)
    My husband works in the NICU dept of a local hospital. They deal with the preemie babies and the ones with medical challenges. Unfortunately, he also sees all the babies that are born addicted to drugs. You would be amazed how many there actually are. Its so sad to hear about how little they are and how many problems they already have even in their first day in this world. There are several that are given up for adoption (thankfully!) and some that go into the system. But what is so shocking to me is that there are some that go right back to the mother. A mother who doesn’t come visit, who doesn’t take advantage of the hospital’s offer to “live in” while their child is in the NICU, and who didn’t care enough to get the help she needed to ensure her baby wasn’t born addicted. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the mother is being treated before the baby is born and sometimes a mother will stay or at least visit daily. But those seem to be rare occasions.
    As mothers, I think it really tugs our heartstrings to see children being left behind or uncared for and we just want to wrap them up with hugs and kisses and show them they are loved.
    My thoughts and prayers go out to those children.
    So glad you shared this, Myndi!

    • I can’t imagine the things that happen inside NICU. I’m so grateful for people like your hubby who invest their lives in that – I’ve had more than one friend end up there with very early preemies, and owe the lives of their children to the skill and loving care of the people that work there.

      I think the thing that really hits me is that every child is born so innocent. So HELPLESS and dependent on the world around them. To be tossed aside and forgotten for any reason is just heartbreaking and wrong.

  6. Reece’s Rainbow is such a good org. I love what they do and how they do it. My girls like to keep change and sometimes they’ll give it to me “to give to the kids with no moms and dads.”
    I cannot be on the site long without crying, it’s definitely so hard. But the other option–forgetting it–is even worse. I grow especially attached to the blind kids, and am specifically praying for one of them until he’s adopted.
    Love this post.

    • My kiddos do the same thing. It was really hard for them when Annabell fell off the grid…she’d become a sweet part of our family, and a regular topic of conversation. It stings, that we can’t keep tabs on her anymore, but it’s been beautiful to see how her loss has lit a fire under my kids – the boys esp – for the plight of the orphan.

      I love that you’re praying for a specific kiddo. Do you have a link for his profile? Our family will join you!

  7. “Every child deserves a family that will love them and protect them.

    There are no exceptions to this. Each and every child is precious, priceless.”

    Thank you for your very emotional and meaningful post, Myndi. We can feel how big your heart is. I’m going to your links right now to support in whatever way I can.
    Keep talking about it and we will help.

  8. Right here in the US there so many abandoned children. They end up on the streets as teens and then fall through the cracks. I am sure there is an orphanage right in your area.
    It does tear my heart out every time I hear of child abuse resulting in death in the news…

  9. My sister has four daughters, the youngest of whom has a rare genetic brain disorder that keeps her bound to a wheelchair and unable to speak. And you know what? She brings so much joy to the world around her, and vice versa.

    Thank you for bringing light to these important issues. Every child counts, and they all deserve loving homes. Keep listening to that huge heart of yours!

  10. Myndi, this is a beautiful post, for more reasons than I can comment on at the moment.

    Would you mind if I added this to the list of posts in the #GoWithout campaign? I noticed that Gloria mentioned donating instead of getting new shoes, which is exactly the idea behind GoWithout. I’d love for people to have the opportunity to learn about Reece’s Rainbow and consider donating the next time they feel like foregoing their Starbucks runs for the week.

  11. You have the biggest heart Myndi! You know where my weaknesses are! I feel for those unwanted children also. You’ve made my heart ache. All I can say is that they are not forgotten by our creator. He loves each and every one of them! :)

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